Art museum curtain wall offers natural light


Photos by Richard Barnes, University of Michigan Museum of Art

"The curtain wall islike a piece of art in itself, like a transparent canvas draped from the exterior. The system was custom-engineered to accommodate the museum's specific loads and long spans."—Dave DeBettignies, regional sales manager, Wausau Window and Wall Systems.

The basics:Architects of the 53,000-square-foot addition to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, describe the project as "three, cantilevered, structural arms pinwheel[ing] around a ...vertical gallery," according to a Wausau Window and Wall Systems release. The glass, aluminum and limestone addition doubles the size of the museum, and a custom curtain wall and storefront curtain wall allow for a light-filled expanse of galleries, classrooms, museum store and auditorium.

The players: Owner and developer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; architect, Allied Works Architecture, Portland, Ore.; general contractor, Skanska USA Building Inc., Southfield, Mich.; glazing contractor, custom curtain wall system engineer and manufacturer, Harmon Inc., Minneapolis; glass fabricator, Viracon, Owatonna, Minn.; additional curtain wall supplier, Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis.; additional curtain wall finisher, Linetec, Wausau, Wis.

The glass and systems:A 12,000-square-foot, 40- to 60-foot-high, custom, cantilevered curtain wall and a high thermal performance storefront curtain wall. "Like many museums, interior humidity is kept high to prevent damage to art on display. In a cold climate, like Ann Arbor, this high ambient humidity can cause condensation or frost to form on standard curtain wall framing," DeBettignies says. The HP-Wall from Wausau was chosen for its condensation resistance. Glass is Viracon's VE13-2M glass with a warm edge spacer.