University of Washington expanded its biology and STEM programs with its new Life Sciences Building, featuring Solarban 72 Starphire glass.
When the University of Washington decided to expand the facility serving its biology department and the state’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, the school charged the local office of Perkins+Will with designing an engaging and highly sustainable building that befit its prominent location on campus.
“They wanted great daylight and views for their offices where they write their research grants and collaborate with colleagues and graduate assistants,” explained Devin Kleiner, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, senior project architect, associate principal, Perkins+Will, who worked closely with department faculty to deliver a building that met several key criteria. “They also requested that daylight penetrate through their offices into the open lab zone in the floor plate center so all researchers could have access to natural light.”
To fine-tune the window-to-wall ratio (WWR) and thermal performance of the building, now known as the Life Science Building (LSB), Perkins+Will conducted advanced energy modeling, computing the solar heat gain for each orientation and the specific uses of each interior space. This validated the decision to design an all-glass wall on the northwest elevation which, because it is shaded by an adjacent building, has less demand for solar heat management. In addition to showcasing the building’s open staircase and large landings, the glass enhances views of the local landscape and Olympic Mountains. “Having low-iron glass and using a minimalist spider clip connection to the main structure was critical to meeting the project’s goal of enabling the occupants to feel immersed in nature while inside the building,” Kleiner added.
Kleiner and his team identified Solarban 72 Starphire glass by Vitro Architectural Glass as the ideal glazing for the 7-story structure due in part to its exceptional transparency. The glass also helped the design team achieve aggressive sustainability requirements, which included LEED Gold certification as well as compliance with the 2030 Challenge for carbon-neutral buildings. Featuring an advanced triple-silver, low emissivity (low-e) coating on a premium, low-iron substrate, Solarban 72 Starphire glass offers a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.28, visible light transmittance (VLT) of 68% and U-Value ratings of 0.26 in the summer and 0.28 in the winter.
On the northeast side of the building, an all-glass wall fabricated with Solarban 72 Starphire glass is suspended by a point-supported system from Novum Structures. The same glass is featured in extra-large, 5-foot-wide by 14-foot-high glass panels, reinforced by cables instead of frames. On the southwest façade, 11-foot-high windows made with Solarban 72 Starphire glass serve two purposes. The first is to bring daylight deep into the floorplate—including the open laboratories that sit behind the offices. The second is to anchor a series of photovoltaic (PV) fins by Onyx Solar, which generate enough energy to power the facility.