Glazing Details Stand Out on MIT Media Lab

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Arts and Sciences Building’s new research laboratory features glass walls and silver-hued sun shades. Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed the $90 million MIT Media Lab in association with Boston’s Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Communicating a sense of Modernistic transparency and connectivity, floor-to-ceiling glass and aluminum curtainwall clad the steel-frame building. Exterior aluminum screens constitute a second layer of the façade design.

Illinois-based Doralco Architectural Metal Solutions manufactured the vertical sunscreens from 100-percent recyclable aluminum. These were used to reduce unwanted solar heat gain, minimize HVAC demands and costs and control glare for occupant comfort and productivity without sacrificing views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline.

Linetec painted more than 66,000 square feet of recycled aluminum in a 70-percent Kynar® coating called Maki Silver, “in honor of the architectural firm that specified it,” says Tammy Schroeder, Linetec’s marketing specialist.

She continues, “For the MIT Media Lab building, the sun shade segments were finished at the largest possible size. Some were up to 27-feet long. Although this length is not unusual for extrusions, it is for fabricated parts. These significant lengths required extra supports for structural integrity. Extra time and attention also were required to insert 25,000 end caps. These foam plugs go into each [to] keep out bees and other pests.”

More than 28 miles of 3/4-inch diameter, extruded aluminum pipe is utilized within the sunscreens’ assemblies. These mount directly onto the building’s structure using a series of custom-engineered, steel anchor and outrigger assemblies. Created by Doralco, this system integrates with the surrounding curtainwall and façade systems.

Glazing contractor Karas & Karas Glass Co. Inc. installed the finished, recycled aluminum sun shades under the guidance of general contractor Bond Brothers Inc. Construction was substantially completed in 2009 and the lab officially opened in March 2010.