Maximizing the potential of exterior views depends on unobstructed sight lines and comfortable occupants. When these two objectives are in direct conflict, architects must find a creative solution, ideally one that aligns with the aesthetics of the space.
This was the situation that West Hollywood architecture firm Tag Front encountered when it began work on 71Above, a one-of-a-kind restaurant space situated 1,000 feet above ground on the 71st floor of L.A.’s iconic US Bank Tower.
The restaurant’s location offers spectacular 360-degree views of Los Angeles, the mountains, and Long Beach Harbor. Naturally, an open floor plan would allow the restaurant’s guests to experience these views in a memorable fashion.
But summer temperatures in L.A. regularly exceed 90 degrees, bringing heat gain and glare that would have made the space intolerable. And the most common solution to this problem — adding mechanical blinds or shades — would have disrupted the views of the surrounding environment.
“Solar control was a major factor for the overall design of the space,” said Mandi Rafaty, managing principal of Tag Front. “We needed to maintain unobstructed views from all vantage points while blocking harsh sunlight and intense heat at the same time. SageGlass’s innovative technology made this possible.”
SageGlass® dynamic glass helps create an optimal balance of daylight, exterior views, and interior comfort while significantly reducing both heat gain and glare. Tag Front specified more than 3,000 square feet of the material for the restaurant’s façade.
Under the firm’s guidance, glazing contractor Giroux Glass installed 192 insulated glass units as well as 48 tableside vents. These vents allow diners to get a dose of fresh air at their discretion, as well as listen to ambient street sounds.
“Our restaurant allows the people of Los Angeles to enjoy a dining experience that is unlike any other,” said Emil Eyvazoff, owner of 71Above. “Guests can pick out their neighborhood or simply enjoy the sights. This couldn’t happen if the views were obstructed. The best part is our guests don’t even notice the glass.”
Because SageGlass is electrochromic, it tints automatically to control sunlight, minimize heat gain, and reduce glare as the outside temperature and angle of the sun change. So even during lunch in the middle of July, guests at 71Above can dine in complete comfort while enjoying clear exterior views. Or the glass on the west side can be tinted during a spectacular sunset so that the sun on the horizon is fully visible but the glare is virtually nonexistent. Meanwhile, the glass on the east side remains clear to let in the late afternoon daylight. Manual controls also allow SageGlass to be adjusted to meet the specific needs of weddings, corporate functions, and other events.
“SageGlass is changing how people experience interior environments,” said Alan McLenaghan, CEO of SageGlass. “It gives architects remarkable flexibility to think differently about the visual opportunities within a space and pursue ideas that would not be possible with other kinds of solar controls.”
In addition, SageGlass conforms with local green building and sustainability initiatives intended to reduce energy usage through efficient design and sustainable energy practices. For example, installing dynamic glass in 71Above will significantly reduce the space’s total HVAC load.
Most important, SageGlass fits well with the look and feel of the space at 71Above. The restaurant opened in July 2016 to rave reviews, earning a nomination for L.A. Weekly’s Best New Restaurant Award and winning Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants list.