Glazing Helps Keep a Glass Box Cool for Students

May 2013

The newest shades, screens, and glass technologies help control solar heat gain and glare throughout the year without sacrificing access to light or views.

By Rita Catinella Orrell

Exterior and interior views of the western facade of the Morgan Library Study Cube at Colorado State University in Fort Collins
Image © Kevin Eilbeck Photography

Exterior and interior views of the western facade of the Morgan Library Study Cube at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

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Colorado state University built the Morgan Library Pavilion, an addition to an existing 270,000-square-foot library on its Fort Collins campus, to create a transparent, inviting space for students. Completed in late 2012, the all-glass building was designed by Denver-based Studiotrope, which collaborated with sustainability consultants YR&G to incorporate various efficiency strategies. Also known as the Study Cube, the project achieved LEED Silver certification in March.

According to Daniel LeBlanc, senior sustainability manager at YR&G, the high-performance Serious Glass on the north, south, and east facades, along with electronically tintable glass from Sage Electrochromics on the west facade, helps lower solar heat gain and reduce peak loads, even on hot days when the building is fully occupied. LeBlanc, whose team used Autodesk Ecotect modeling software to study solar radiation on the facades, says SageGlass was “exactly what we needed for the design goal we were trying to achieve—a transparent cube without a lot of distraction.” Keeping the two-story, 5,000-square-foot cube transparent was also important for security, as the space is open around the clock.

Sage manufactured 74 unique pieces of sensor-controlled SageGlass for the western facade, ranging from 22” x 28” to 39” x 59” in size. The glass wiring was routed through a cast-in-place cantilevered concrete bench and wall, and then down through the concrete floor slab into a crawl space near the control module. “That was a great, clean solution for everyone,” says Betsy Podbelski, project manager at Sage Architectural Solutions.

Vertical custom steel fins wrap around the building. While the sunshades were originally conceived as a design element, the client was attracted to them as an extra layer of sun control, says Matthew Edmonds, project manager at Studiotrope. But after daylighting modeling studies confirmed that external fins would not help control glare or heat, the client had already fallen for the aesthetic, says Edmonds, so they remained. Reaction to the Cube has been positive, he says: “It's rewarding to see an all-glass box in Colorado that has stayed comfortable from a thermal standpoint.” circle 200

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