Architects' Choice is a monthly series in which ARCHITECT asks industry professionals to recommend products they have specified in their own projects. The category cis assigned each month, but products must adhere to consistent guidelines: they must be suitable for commercial buildings, available for purchase in the U.S. market, and released within the past two years (though some categories have exceptions).

8750XD Unitized Curtain Wall, EFCO
Part of Monett, Mo.–based building product manufacturer EFCO's XTherm family, this fenestration system reduces thermal conductivity through a patent-pending Duracast thermal break design that uses pultruded fiberglass components to separate internal and external aluminum extrusions. Highlighting the product's energy efficiency and fiberglass' comparable durability to aluminum, Brad Prestbo, AIA, a senior associate at Sasaki’s Watertown, Mass., office says, "Fiberglass is over 37 times less conductive than aluminum, [while] structurally, fiberglass is almost as strong as aluminum, making it a perfect pairing." The dry glazed system has a U-factor of 0.30 and provides 3-inch sightlines as well as integrated zero-sightline vents.

Rendering of the Student Pavilion at the Arizona State University in Tempe.
Courtesy HGA Rendering of the Student Pavilion at the Arizona State University in Tempe.

View Dynamic Glass, View
In May 2016, Minneapolis-based HGA Architects and Engineers was tasked with designing a Student Pavilion at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Ariz., that not only took advantage of the site's stunning mountain views, but also would serve a net-zero energy building. To help fulfill these requirements, the firm incorporated View Dynamic Glass, by Milpitas, Calif.,–based glass manufacturer View, throughout the 74,653-square-foot structure. The glass—made up of thin layers of metal oxide that form an electrochromic, ceramic coating on the interior—can be stimulated by a small electrical charge that allows users to change the tint of the window through a remote smartphone application. "The product admits natural daylight while rejecting solar glare, thus reducing annual energy costs," says Russell Drewry, AIA, senior project architect with HGA's Milwaukee office. An additional perk, he notes, is that "students can see how the technology is helping the university reach its goals for climate net neutrality [through monitors installed in the building]," making it an interactive learning experience.

Courtesy CannonDesign

Uniquad - Unitized Long Span Translucent Panels, CPI Daylighting
CannonDesign wanted its design of the 92,000-square-foot Maryland Heights Community Center in St. Louis to incorporate daylight, but also be acoustically shielded from an adjacent highway—a quality that conventional glass building products might not have. Senior associate William Schenck, AIA, and executive director of design David Polzin, AIA, specified CPI Daylighting's Uniquad. The system, composed of exterior and interior extruded polycarbonate panels, has a U-factor of 0.22 and—with the addition of customized, transparent, sound-reducing panels—a Sound Transmission Class rating of 34. "Careful selection of each component resulted in a façade that met all aesthetic, acoustic, and energy performance criteria,” the architects say.

Courtesy SmithGroupJJR

Heat Strengthened Glass, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope
Areas the experience high seismic activity require more resilient buildings and building materials in order to keep the structure sound and the inhabitants safe. Slated to be completed in 2019, the California Pacific Medical Center's 13-story Van Ness and Geary hospital in San Francisco, designed by SmithGroupJJR, utilizes Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope's Heat Strengthened architectural glass to introduce a durable, predominantly glass building to an area with "an abundance of mid-rise, precast concrete buildings with punched-out windows," says design director David King, FAIA. The heat-treated glass—which is strengthened by heating it up to 150 C and then rapidly cooling it down—is twice as strong as annealed glass, and is available in thicknesses ranging from 0.12 inches to 0.75 inches.

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