Published by:
October 16, 2019

Overcoming Daylighting Challenges

While large skylit atriums and lobbies can be spectacular, contrary to popular thought, they are generally not the most effective daylighting engines. “The optimal aspect ratio, shape and throat size are typically suboptimal to deliver functional daylight more than two stories,” relates Jacob Dunn, LEED AP, BD+C, Associate Principal, ZGF Architects, Portland. “Additionally, circulation space typically wraps the atrium, which puts critical daylight-deserving spaces even further from the source.”

As such, the daylighting approach needs to shift to balancing surface brightness in the occupants’ visual field, direct sun and thermal control, he says. This works best when shape and orientation is determined early in the design process, for example, shaping the volume of the atrium with strategies like terracing floor plates.

Between WELL and pure aesthetic design goals, large daylighted spaces and large window-to-wall ratios aren’t going anywhere, but they can make it more challenging to meet code. It requires a mix of technology, effective products, architectural considerations and good old-fashioned creativity, to ensure great-looking-and-feeling spaces will always lie in the public domain.

Below are a few solutions we’ve highlighted that specifically address daylighting challenges.

New & Noteworthy

Skylight Fits Flat for Low-Pitch Roofs

An edge-to-edge curve to skylights is bringing in more daylight, while producing a sleek, modern roof aesthetic. CurveTech Skylights combine elegant design with exceptional daylighting for design- and quality-conscious architects. Designed for use on flat or low-pitch roofs, the curve allows rain water to disperse off the glass while installed on a zero-degree pitch roof.

More product info

Climb Every Mountain

Effectively simulating a natural outdoor environment thanks to Solatube Daylighting Systems, climbers are flocking to the indoor Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center in San Diego. A combination of amplifiers, diffusers and daylighting systems are thoughtfully designed to throw light in different directions creating a natural depth perception.

More product info

Restoring Order to the Courthouse

The Fayette County Courthouse was once the shining jewel of Lexington, Ky. Constructed in 1899, the Richardsonian Romanesque-style building was one of the first fully electrified structures in the city. Its heralded central dome used electric lighting to create a star-like ceiling. But, in the 1960s, a central elevator shaft and hvac equipment obscured all view.

More product info

Greenlite Glass Systems

Architect Donald G. Copper LEED AP, of G|R|E|C Architects’ design for a residential tower in a dense urban neighborhood in Chicago brings unexpected daylight into the building. The 15-story, 199-unit apartment building is in a dense area of Chicago with very little green space, guiding the desire for incorporating daylight as a design priority.

More product info


Elegant, Simple, Automatic Liquid Soap Dispenser

Elegant design, simple maintenance: Bobrick’s B-824 SureFlo Automatic Liquid Soap Dispenser is conveniently top-filled with non-proprietary, bulk liquid soap—instead of costly, wasteful proprietary cartridges—to save on operating costs and reduce post-consumer waste by over 57%. No more costly, awkward under-counter servicing of screw-on cartridges or empty soap vessels, often a laborious task in the dark.

More product info

An Authentic, Reliable Steel Replication Window

Graham Architectural Products’ innovative SR6700 Series window, designed for the Starrett Lehigh building, replicates big steel windows, which enjoyed widespread popularity from their debut in an American factory in 1907 through most of the 20th century. These windows were popular with mills and foundries since they combined durability with low flammability and rigidity against wind pressure. Thin sightlines provided maximum daylight, and the large ventilation area provided air circulation. The SR6700, with an available floating vent, large openings, minimal sight lines and applied grids, brings modern performance to this classic design with such authenticity, it has helped numerous projects attain National Park Service approval.

More product info

Clearly Different

With Guardian UltraClear low-iron glass, the difference is clear. An innovative process reduces iron oxide content—achieving stunningly clear glass that transmits abundant light. In standard glass, iron content creates a greenish tint at the surface, along the edge and in views on the other side. UltraClear glass offers beautifully transparent results, no matter the glass size or thickness.

UltraClear glass can maximize light, defy boundaries and render colors with impressive fidelity. The possibilities are endless. Combine with Guardian SunGuard low-E coatings for high-performance in commercial façades, or get the green out for interior applications.

More product info

VT Industries Architectural Wood Doors -Durability

When you source a high-impact resistance door from VT, you can be confident it’s built to the highest of standards. Palladium Doors are constructed to withstand the most demanding environments including; healthcare, educational, hospitality, and other high-traffic facilities while maintaining an attractive decor. Available in more styles and finishes so you can find the perfect match for your facility. More durable. More Beautiful. There’s more to a VT door.

More product info

Precision Series Tiles in Shades of Green add Visual Pop

The addition of glass curtainwall and a protective overhang clad in copper-toned metal tiles create a real visual pop in the middle of the airport’s runway area. The Miller Dunwiddie team chose a lively arrangement of metal PAC-CLAD Precision Series Tiles from Petersen in a palette of four Kynar finishes. The tiles’ cupped profile enables a unique play of light and shadow that creates a sense of movement across the facade.

More product info