The newest iconic building designs are a feast for the eyes, inside and out. Yet the competition is fierce to also offer a technological feast, whether that’s to meet the WELL Building Standard, provide the most digitally integrated building system or more.
Few building products can contribute to a building’s visual appeal and physical comfort in as many ways as glass. Whether design goals include arresting colors, expansive views, high performance or all of the above, this versatile material is a valuable component in an architect’s toolkit. As the application of architectural glass expands and transforms, it can take center stage or provide a virtually clear canvas while working in the background to help in the imagining, design and construction of tomorrow’s signature buildings.
Sacrificing components of an exciting, impactful design to increase a building’s energy efficiency is too often an unfortunate reality. And when the building design team is striving for the latest green building certification, the degree of flexibility and creativity narrows even further. A hard-working product that can be counted upon is high performance glass, striking an effective balance to help meet both performance and aesthetic goals.
Glass performance has an important role to play to help create a comfortable living environment for occupants. Today’s solar control glass, particularly double- and triple-silver coated products, offers very high spectral selectivity – which means they let a high amount of visible light in while keeping out solar heat.
Combining two high performance coatings in an insulating glass unit (IGU), as well as the use of triple glazed units, gives architects a powerhouse building component as they strive to meet and exceed energy performance goals.
Building occupants consciously and unconsciously crave a connection with the outside environment, and as a result they can perform better and feel better – students, employees, patients – with that access. There’s a feeling that nature is beckoning to us, and we feel an inherent need to respond. Clear views only possible via glass can be the way we satisfy that need.
Oversized glass does away with what is considered the “standard” edges of a window and blurs the separation that keeps us from enjoying the benefits of outside: from views that awe us, to the warmth and glow of natural light that cheers us. The difference between a punched window and floor-to-ceiling glass is a genuine wow factor.
By improving sight lines and reducing visual impediments, oversized glass dissolves boundaries to bring occupants up close with the outdoors yet still meets energy performance requirements. And it impresses at first sight, drawing those on the outside in with larger-than-life designs and clear views to inviting, enlightened interiors.
In both exterior façades and interior design, color neutrality offers clarity with no compromise. Low-iron glass delivers with bright, true views.
Low-iron glass is crystal clear because it contains less iron than standard float glass. Iron gives standard glass a greenish tint that is particularly visible at the glass edge.
When low-iron glass is paired with oversized lites, those sought-after clear views are significantly impacted. Incorporating both into designs results in dramatic spans of glass and brilliant, unobstructed sightlines. All without sacrificing performance.
People make buildings come alive, whether they are the occupants living and working within the walls, the commuters moving by the mixed-use building in an urban environment or the children pouring in and out of schools.
Laminated glass wraps the occupant and shields the pedestrian with comfort and safety because it helps:
Color in combinations or one distinctive monolithic look makes for a unique façade. Tinted glass can bring that something extra to the building aesthetic, plus the advantage of stronger solar performance.
Subtle blue or striking grey combined with high performance coatings boosts the solar performance compared to coatings on clear glass. Tinted glass accomplishes this by increasing the amount of solar energy absorbed by the glass. Additionally, tinted glass can also reduce glare.
Bird collisions with glass is a growing concern around the globe. Requirements to deter birds from flying into glass are becoming more stringent. Fortunately, there are many architectural solutions that seamlessly pair safer conditions for birds with high performance coated glass:
Expanding bird-friendly offerings are a work of innovation and the clear answer when seeking high performance glazing that does its part to help protect birds.
The call for environmental stewardship and to find alternatives to new construction and the energy it consumes – not to mention the continued energy use of the resulting building – leads the architecture and construction community to retrofitting, recycling and upcycling options.
In many cases, the value in retrofitting a building goes beyond preserving materials; often there comes a groundswell of goodwill from neighbors and communities to see a cherished structure come back to life or a space being thoughtfully repurposed.
Windows in older buildings are frequently single pane glass without high performance coatings. Replacing this inefficient glass with IGUs containing coated and/or laminated glass adds potential energy savings, safety and security.
Trends evolve and change, and the next big idea that will change skylines lies just past the horizon. Perhaps your next design will feature impossibly vast spans of glass, sparkling clarity, protective laminated glass, a nod to bird safety or an unexpected twist on retrofitted glass. Whether you apply one of these or all of the above, it’s safe to assume the project will be the most progressive example of energy efficient construction.