Bendheim channel glass enlivens childrens hospital facade
Sept. 22, 2016 – The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is putting the finishing touches on a major retrofit, featuring a new Lamberts channel glass façade by Bendheim Wall Systems Inc. The vibrant, ceramic-fritted glass units rise along the building’s 10 stories and a 2-story-tall ‘lantern’ cupola. The striking colors of the glass are visible from a distance in the day or night, while the smart technical design of the system makes this project truly stand out by answering a number of unique design challenges. It is the first and only installation of vertically-unitized, multi-colored ceramic-fritted channel glass in North America.
The redesigned hospital exterior seeks to improve the patient experience. The translucent glass channels are visible from within the rooms, bringing children and families comfort and a sense of playfulness through color. The positive experience of the space reflects current attitudes and research into enhanced healing through sensitive clinical architecture and design.
Overland Partners, the architects charged with the project’s exterior, developed a range of criteria for the new glass façade elements: durability, structural capacity, custom colors, translucency, back-lighting ability, and ease of installation, among others.
They selected Bendheim’s channel glass – a three-dimensional, U-shaped architectural glass – for its remarkable structural qualities, light-diffusing surface texture, and vast range of translucent hues.
“The Children’s Hospital borders the Zona Cultural, a downtown district that is rich with history and culture distinct to San Antonio. The use of bright and vibrant colors is extensive in the area,” said Kris Feldmann, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Overland Partners. “The inclusion of color in the façade of the transformed hospital further solidifies it as an important institution to the cultural fabric of downtown San Antonio.”
The precise glass color selection was based on the hospital’s 8-story-tall mosaic mural, “The Spirit of Healing,” by local artist Jesse Trevino. Bendheim Wall Systems was able to expertly match the colors of Trevino’s mural with its colored ceramic fritted channel glass.
The translucent frits are fused into the glass under high temperatures. Unlike paint, an applied coating, they deliver durable, weather- and scratch-resistant hues that can stand up to the elements.
One of the main design challenges for The Children’s Hospital was creating tall and light façade units that could sustain high wind loads. The unique geometry of Bendheim’s channel glass allowed it to achieve continuous vertical spans of 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 m) in relatively lightweight ¼-inch (7 mm) glass thickness – weighing only 4.5 lbs. per sq. ft. (22 kg/m2) – a feat unachievable through conventional flat glass.
Another technical challenge was the installation of the glass assemblies on the building’s slim concrete eyebrows, located on the south and west façades. Speedy installation was essential, as well as avoiding the need for scaffolding, which would normally be required.
Bendheim Wall Systems’ technical experts met the challenge by working with Overland Partners and the installer, Sharp Glass, to develop a custom vertical unitized channel glass system.
“The close collaboration between Overland and Bendheim in the development of the colored glass panel system was key to overcoming the technical challenges of installing on existing facades with numerous unique conditions,” said Kris Feldmann of Overland Partners. “Bendheim’s technical expertise and willingness to roll up their sleeves to help figure out solutions for each application also gave the design team and contractor the confidence to lobby for the colored panels as an integral component of the project.”
The custom unitized channel glass system enabled the installer, Sharp Glass, to pre-assemble the glass units in its facility, transport them to the hospital, and hoist them into place as each floor became ready. A proprietary attachment mechanism allowed each unit to be easily pivoted and lifted into place, perfectly aligned, and secured to the structure.
“Our experience with Bendheim on The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio was nothing short of great,” said Alan Sharp, CEO of Sharp Glass. “Delivery schedules were met and the quality of the finished product was never an issue. Bendheim helped us with the pre-assembled panel design, which saved us thousands on the installation and allowed us to beat the schedule.”
Bendheim’s adjustable unitized system enabled the glazier to install, on average, an entire floor per day, without the need for costly, unsightly scaffolding. The speed and precision of the installation marked a significant achievement in the construction field.
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio unveiled its newly enhanced facilities on May 25, 2016.
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