The decades old skylights on the roof of Sibley Hall had frosted over and faded with time, greatly reducing the amount of natural daylight coming into the building. The exterior steel frame of the building was in extremely poor condition and leaked. And, after many years of housing the weight of the Fine Arts Library, the top of the building had begun to spread apart and the exterior walls were cracking.
Architects knew that intelligent use of natural light would be a significant design element to modernizing the repurposed third floor space. However, renovating a 122-year-old building brings special challenges when it comes to staying on budget.
Today, the long rectangular room is filled with natural light from the skylights and can be cooled simply by opening the ventilating modules.
After conducting extensive research, LEVENBETTS chose the VELUX Modular Skylight (VMS) system Longlight to replace the existing skylights. The design called for two VMS Longlights each of which run 50 ft. length × 9 ft. width, with 25 panel modules. “It’s a really well built, well detailed, high-thermal performance skylight,” said Andrew Feuerstein of LEVENBETTS. “And it’s quite affordable because it’s modular.” From pre-plan to completion, the project took five years, but a crew installed the 50 skylight modules in less than two weeks, including the demolition of the older skylights. Because the skylight system was prebuilt in the factory, VELUX was able to provide an accurate estimate of hours for the installation labor.
Four of the skylight modules, above offices, open to allow airflow for natural ventilation. These venting modules have rain sensors to monitor and control the skylights during inclement weather. And because wind gusts are a precursor to storms, sensors also detect high wind changes and close automatically. The skylights are set to close during winds in excess of 20 mph, or at the first drop of rain, whichever comes first. They can also be opened and closed manually.
VELUX worked with the project team to ensure a smooth installation. “I can attribute the easy installation to VELUX,” said Davenport, Cornell University FS Engineering & Project Administration.