Bright, Open Spaces Abound

When architects with the Atlanta operations of LEO A DALY designed the 90,000‐square‐foot Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) Library in Lawrenceville, Ga., they knew they wanted the structure to be one that would convey a feeling of openness, light and transparency. Built as a “Knowledge Center,” with the Potts Company in Conyers, Ga., as the general contractor and Lithonia, Ga.-based Glass Systems Inc. as the glazing contractor, the library was designed to be the intellectual and social heart of a new college campus, which opened in 2006. The architects chose to express that commitment to knowledge and openness with a transparent façade, which also contributes to the building’s energy and environmental performance.

According to Jerry Voith, the firm’s principal‐in‐charge of the GGC library project, the dual desire to promote openness and to earn LEED certification for the library helped inspire a design that maximizes daylight penetration into the building, while still taking advantage of the outside scenery. The library’s large atrium, for example, provides 90 percent open views to and from the central campus green and walks, while saturating 75 percent of the interior space with natural daylight. Voith said they chose to work with PPG’s glass products, including Solarban 70XL Starphire glass for the atrium and the rest of the building envelope because it provided the optimum balance of transparency and thermal performance.

Likewise, high-performing products from Kawneer Company Inc. were also used. In addition to providing thermal performance, the Kawneer products played a role in integrating daylight for a studious environment while effectively shielding the library’s contents from environmental factors.

The building features a 42-foot tall curtainwall on the north side of the library. Both Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System®1 and 1600 Wall System®2 curtainwalls were used in the space to increase daylight and enhance transparency. The library also has an exterior skin of cold-formed metal framing, sheathing, waterproofing membrane, brick, storefront framing and metal panels. Kawneer’s Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451T framing system was used for thermal performance, while the Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 450 framing system, used at the interior, offered increased visibility throughout. The library also features the company’s 350 Medium Stile Entrances and custom, 36-inch deep 1600 SunShades®.

According to project architect Todd Dolson the curtainwall used is part of an integrated sustainable design strategy that dictated the orientation and arrangement of the library, including the layout of its windows and shading devices.

“The design goals of the project required glass that was as transparent as possible, providing the highest visible light transmittance and greatest thermal performance to achieve the project’s sustainability objectives,” Dolson explained. The glazing component and orientation strategy, together with high-efficiency lighting, mechanical and insulation systems, enabled the library to realize a 32-percent reduction in energy use.

But glass and metal products provided more than just aesthetics, as the library has also been recognized for its energy performance. The library, which earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in 2010, also received an Innovation in Design credit from the USGBC LEED program for its Cradle to Cradle (C2C)‐certification.

In addition to the use of glazing products, the library’s integrated sustainable design strategy encompassed the orientation of the building, as well as the layout of the windows and shading devices, among other features. According to Cecilia Cunningham, the firm’s LEED coordinator, these individual components combined to help produce a 32-percent drop in the library’s energy consumption compared to the code baseline.

“We wanted to use as much glass as we could,” says Cunningham. “The possibility to incorporate open spaces in the building was important for the occupants and the interaction between employees and students.”