Comfort Zone

I think by now most people working with glass in their designs and construction plans know for certain that glass has a lot to offer their projects. Luckily, we’ve all come a long way from thinking that glass was there simply to provide a nice view and protection from the rain.Aside from the energy-efficiency that glass can provide, studies have also shown that glass can play a significant role when it comes to the overall comfort level of those working inside the building. As the Department of Energy’s website states: “The quantity and quality of light around us determine how well we see, work, and play. Light affects our health, safety, morale, comfort, and productivity.” With this in mind, in recent years we’ve seen an increase in the number of projects designed with daylighting effects in mind.

Take, for instance, the Helen Diller Cancer Research Building, which you can read about in the upcoming May-June issue of the Architects’ Guide to Glass. Located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, the project was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly to maximize the interactions among everyone working there. This was done by using glass extensively; most significantly by way of an atrium that is visually and physically accessible from surrounding areas and exterior terraces.

As project manager Bethany Lundell told me, “We’re trying to stimulate the researchers and the way they operate … there are different types of light in different spaces and we wanted to provide daylight in tough spaces … because it really does make a difference in terms of how you experience and enjoy a space.”

It’s true; you can’t very well have natural light when bricks and concrete are your primary building materials. With glass you not only get the benefit of visible light transmittance, but nice aesthetics, too. Tell me about some ways you’re designing with daylighting in mind.