Protective Windows for Productive Occupants
Fire-Rated Glass Allows for Benefits of
The San Juan Capistrano school district must be doing something
right. Students in one study of the California-based district progressed
20-percent faster on math tests and 26-percent faster on reading tests
in just one year than those in a control group. The difference? Daylighting.
Studies have shown that natural light can be beneficial to building occupants.
A landmark “Daylighting in Schools” study sponsored by PG&E more than
a decade ago found that end-of-year scores were 7- to 18-percent higher
for students in classrooms with daylighting than in those without.
Hospitals benefit, too, from daylighting. Robert Ulrich’s study, “View
through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery,” published in Science
in 1984, concluded that surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows
allowing lots of natural light had shorter postoperative hospital stays,
received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses’ notes and took
fewer potent analegesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with
windows facing a brick wall.
In projects such as these, the extra security could prove a barrier to
using glass throughout. In these cases, fire-rated glass ensured that
building occupants benefited all around. Fire protection requirements
traditionally have made it more difficult to achieve daylighting goals.
This is no longer true as today’s innovative institutional and educational
projects have found a way to achieve both.
UC Davis Medical Center Surgery
and Emergency Services Pavilion
The $3,000,000 University of California Davis Medical Center
Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion project was the result of a dual
effort to expand an aged, undersized facility and to comply with Senate
Bill 1953, which requires hospitals that have Structural Performance Category
1 (SPC-1) buildings (those that are considered hazardous and at risk of
collapse or significant loss of life in the event of an earthquake) must
be replaced or retrofitted to higher seismic safety standards by 2013.
Central to Stantec Architects’ design was a large skylight that allows
natural light to vertically flow into the atrium area and other light
wells throughout the building. However, the architects also wanted to
let light flow horizontally into the adjacent hallways and rooms.
have shown that natural light can be beneficial to building occupants."
Because the walls in the atrium and light wells have to
meet a 2-hour rating, Stantec Architects approached fire-rated glass supplier
SAFTI FIRST for a solution.
To maximize as much natural light as possible, large portions of the 2-hour
atrium and light well walls were made “transparent” with the use of SuperLite
II-XL 120 in GPX framing. In addition, the doors were made with SuperLite
II-XL 90 in GPX framing to match the transparency of the walls.
The architect also wanted to make sure that the fire-rated systems matched
the look of the non-fire-rated systems in the exterior. This was made
possible by ensuring that the GPX framing used in the interior fire-rated
systems had the same profile and clear anodized finish as the exterior
In addition, the patient waiting rooms also had a lot of fire-rated glass
to provide a feeling of openness and help ease anxieties as patients wait
to be seen. Full vision 90-minute double egress doors were provided in
the triage area to add to that openness. And to help calm patients, the
architects provided a prayer/reflection area. By using fire-rated decorative
art glass, the architect was still able to keep the artistic vision that
he had for this space and still meet the fire-rated requirements.
SAFTI FIRST also worked closely with the glazing contractor, Best Roofing
and Contracting, to make sure that the installation and delivery of the
materials went smoothly. Jeremy Henderson, SAFTI FIRST’s GPX supervisor,
visited the jobsite several times to demonstrate how the system is installed
and to answer questions from the subcontractor.
More than 20,000 square feet of fire-resistive glazing and framing for
this project makes the project one of the largest installations of fire-resistive
glazing systems in North America to date.
Post Road Elementary School
New York’s Kaeyer Garment & Davidson Architects (KG&D) worked
to ensure the replacement facility for Post Road Elementary School in
White Plains, N.Y., was an environmentally responsible, yet functional,
learning environment for children. This included allowing for natural
daylight in typically hard to illuminate spaces such as corridors, workspaces,
libraries and stairwells.
To account for this need, KG&D oriented the new facility around a
courtyard to maximize the benefits of the sun’s rays as they travel across
the sky during the day. Library and art rooms on the south side of the
courtyard receive a soft light more conducive to student productivity,
while stairwells near perimeter walls with large windows help reduce the
need for artificial lighting. Light shelves, and controllable, energy-efficient
fluorescent light fixtures help regulate energy use.
One challenge with the design vision was identifying appropriate materials
for the glazing in interior openings such as doors, transoms and borrowed
lites that were required to be fire- and impact-safety rated by code.
FireLite Plus® and FireLite NT ceramic glass from Technical Glass
Products (TGP) in Snoqualmie, Wash., helped resolve the dilemma. Manufactured
using ultraHD™ Technology, the wireless ceramic glass options feature
a clear and nearly colorless surface to resemble ordinary glass and visually
integrate with the school’s non-fire-rated windows. Utilized in borrowed
lites, as well as in doors, FireLite Plus and FireLite NT helped the architects
and glazier Basec Corp. draw daylight into interior spaces, while protecting
children and staff.
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