A building’s design is very much influenced by the function it performs and the perceived threats that it may face – whether those are from natural disasters, accidents, or terrorist attacks – with the latter being a foremost concern for federal courthouses, embassies, government facilities, and other high-profile buildings. For these types of facilities, building materials are chosen based on their ability to mitigate or minimize the injuries and fatalities to occupants during an attack. Because of these security concerns, trade-offs have been made when it comes to daylighting, energy efficiency, and aesthetics, to name a few. The good news is that today, high-performance security glazing make-ups are available in the marketplace to meet the level of protection needed while continuing to provide natural light and a feeling of openness. These specialized systems can also blend with the surroundings seamlessly to enhance the building’s overall design.

Such was the case with a brand-new public safety facility located on the East Coast. The glass wall between the secure entrance and main lobby had to maintain a 2-hour fire-resistive rating as well as meet Performance Condition 2 of the ISC Security Design Criteria Blast Protection Levels for Windows. Additionally, the assembly had to meet the requirements in UFC 3-340-02, Structures to Resist the Effects of Accidental Explosions; UFC 4-020-01, Department of Defense Security Engineering Facilities Planning Manual; and UFC 4-010-01, Department of Defense Minimum Anti-Terrorism Standards for Buildings.

Given the strict requirements of this project, SAFTI FIRST submitted a certified blast engineering report along with a visual mock-up for the 2-hour fire-resistive and blast-rated system. To achieve the level of fire and blast resistance needed, SAFTI FIRST provided SuperLite II-XL 120 in a custom glass make-up that met the Performance 2 blast criteria. It was supplied with GPX Blast Framing with a specially designed anchoring system. SAFTI FIRST also worked with the design team at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the blast consultants at Weidlinger Associates (now Thornton Tomasetti) to ensure that the entire assembly worked with the surrounding structure to meet the required blast performance.

Since maximum transparency and vision were important design requirements, the fire-resistive, blast-rated SuperLite II-XL 120 units were supplied in large sizes and utilized Starphire® Low-Iron glass for an ultraclear appearance despite the robust glass make-up. The GPX Blast Framing system matched the clean, sharp sightlines and finish of the non-rated systems for a uniform look. For ease of installation, the framing system was shipped pre-welded and pre-assembled in sections to W&W LLC, the glazing contractor for this project.

SAFTI FIRST also provided the large, 10-foot, 90-minute fire-resistive pair doors in the glazed assembly. They were supplied with custom hardware that was compatible with the specified card reader to ensure secure access to the building.

The result is a beautiful and elegant glass wall and entrance system that welcomes building occupants as they enter the facility during work hours, and designed to protect them from fire or blast threats should they occur.

For more information, visit www.safti.com.