Decorative Glass Brings Historical Figures to Life in High School Library

Across the nation, high school libraries are undergoing transformations from rooms full of books to centers of technology. How-ever, learning remains the core purpose at school libraries. One way North Stafford High School in Stafford, Va., is enhancing students’ education at its newly renovated library is by highlighting major historical figures through digitally printed glass.

“We wanted to define each room as unique. At first we focused on different colors, but we wanted it to have an educational purpose. That’s when [we] decided to apply graphics of important people with historical significance to the glass,” says Kyle Hopkins, project manager at Stantec, the architect.

The school sent a survey out to students, allowing them to pick the seven people they wanted represented in the library. Maya Angelou, Ellen Ochoa, Katherine Johnson, Booker T. Washington, John Glenn, Clara Barton and Jackie Robinson were the seven figures chosen by North Stafford High School students.

Each figure’s portrait was printed on large glass door panels, approximately 36 inches by 120 inches, from Pulp Studio, based in Gardena, Calif. Vertical photos were chosen for the smaller rooms, while horizontal photos were chosen for the bigger rooms where groups can meet. A plaque with information about the featured per-son was placed on each door.

The use of glass was important, as it would still allow teachers and staff to see the students while they are using the work rooms. Despite graphics covering much of the glass, visibility was still achieved.

“We wanted some sort of transparency, but not so transparent that it doesn’t feel like they’re in a room. It should block out sound,” says Hopkins.

Transparency was also important to the North Stafford High School staff.

“The idea morphed from just knowing we didn’t want drywall or brick and mortar to wanting it to be open. But we didn’t just want it to be glass, we wanted to take the extra step to educate students about people who have made a difference in the world,” says principal Daniel Hornick. “We wanted it to match the openness of the rest of the library. Before, the front of the library was all cinderblock. There was only a door coming in; there wasn’t nearly as much light and openness. We wanted a certain percentage of it to be open to match the overall openness of the environment.”

According to Hopkins, applied vinyl was considered as another option, but architects were worried it would peel off of the glass.

Pulp Studio used direct-to-glass printing for this project. “In direct-to-glass printing, we use techniques in the art creation part of the process to make the artwork more archival and sepia-based,” says Bernard Lax, president of Pulp Studio. “We were involved with Stantec from the very beginning in the selection and development of their artwork.”

The project began in the summer of 2016. The architects toured other libraries before starting construction in June 2017. The library opened to students in December after a ribbon-cut-ting ceremony.

“The glass creates an identity for the library itself. When the community and students from other schools see it, they’re going to identify the glass with this school itself,” says Hopkins.

“This has raised the entire vision of what North Stafford is, and the students will take ownership in that,” adds Hornick. “It’s gorgeous.”

To see a video news report on the project, visit the April 2018 Newscast at

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