Smooth Like Silk

Krishna P. Singh Center for NanotechnologySleek is one word you could use to describe the newly opened Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) campus in Philadelphia. The high-tech research facility and laboratory features 18,000 square feet of glazing fabricated by J.E. Berkowitz (JEB). New York City-based architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi of Weiss/Manfredi designed the acid-etched and silk-screened glass-clad, 78,000-square-foot building to accommodate UPenn’s work in nanotechnology.

According to project manager Todd Hoehn, of Weiss/Manfredi, “The crystalline façade overlooking the central courtyard was critical to the project. We were able to create a custom effect by combining five matching, but offset acid-etched and silk-screened patterns in insulating glass units (IGU).”

“The most interesting aspect of this project was the fabrication and assembly of the two custom components for each IGU,” adds Darrell Cherry, project manager for JEB. “Each lite had to be precisely aligned to achieve the desired window blind effect. The result is fascinating.”

National Glass and Metal Co. Inc. of Horsham, Pa. served as contract glazier for the project. JEB fabricated the 1-5/16-inch IGUs with ¼-inch interior lites featuring silk-screened patterns by the company. The exterior lites used acid-etched patterns by Walker Glass Co. of Herminie, Pa., which was laminated with ¼-inch lites of high-performance low-E glass by Guardian Industries.

“The artistic glass façade created a building skin that appears to be made of layers of glazing due to the use of acid etching and silk screening,” says Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass marketing for Guardian Industries. “The project used Guardian SunGuard AG 50 low-E on UltraWhite low-iron glass to help reduce glare and solar heat gain while providing a public space filled with natural light.”

Krishna P. Singh Center for NanotechnologyAccording to a statement from R.A. Heintges & Associates, the curtainwall consultant for the project which included a 30,000 square foot cladding area, “The design for this new building housing a nanoscale research center at the University of Pennsylvania utilizes a wall system of opaque metal panels to wrap the delicate research laboratories at the north side of the site. The interior includes a glass atrium that offers interaction with the landscaped southern lawn, and an ascending spiral of multi-use spaces that culminates in a public forum overlooking the campus.”

Completed in October 2013, the Krishna P. Singh Center has already received design recognition by winning the Chicago Athenaeum’s 2013 International Architecture Award and the 2013 American Architecture Award.

According to the center’s website, the building also contains a courtyard, public galleria, forum space and high-profile conference rooms along with its labs. Additionally, it says “the building is targeting LEED Silver Certification, a ‘green’ building program for energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”