Free flowing

Cooper Union features multiple layers of exterior facade
Sahely Mukerji
April 20, 2009

W&W Glass, Nanuet, N.Y., #7

W&W Glass LLC, whose gross sales went up $3 million from 2007 to 2008, won the bid for the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art project in New York. The new glass building reflects the school’s mission: Peter Cooper's fundamental belief that education of the highest quality should be as "free as air and water" and should be available to all who qualify, independent of race, religion, gender or social status.

The structure, draped in 55,000 square feet of glass, has 37,000 square feet of window wall and 18,000 square feet of curtain wall, says Les Young, project manager, W&W Glass.

“The Cooper project presented very specific site installation issues due to the multiple layers of exterior façade,” says Michael Haber, managing partner, W&W Glass. “These included having a seven-step process where anchors, window heads and sills, perimeter seals, waterproofing, slab edge covers, exterior screens and then windows had to be installed in this specific sequence in order for all components to coordinated properly due to the very limited space onsite to store materials.”

The project's base glass product was VNE1-63 from Viracon, Owatonna, Minn., for all the exterior insulating glass. The exterior stair tower and stair cases feature Viracon’s 9/16-inch HS/HS Laminated glass with a cool white interlayer.

All of the exterior curtain walls are either two- or four-sided structurally glazed in the field. Oldcastle Glass Engineered Products, Wausau, Wis., provided unitized shop assembled frames, which were glazed in the field due to the size and complexity of the units; many of them had to be crane set. The average size of the units was 72 inches by 168 inches.

“The design team was looking for a very sleek appearance, and to accommodate it they wanted as little exterior metal capturing the glass,” Young says. “There were many sloping and undulating surfaces to tackle which could not be done with conventional means.”

The Cooper project was one of W&W Glass’ educational projects that constitute about 30 percent of the company’s business, Haber says.

“The percentage has been stable the past five years as we always seek to keep a mix of project types in our backlog if possible,” Haber says. “I would expect given the collapse of the residential condo market, this project type will occupy a larger percentage of our work. However, it will be dependent on both state and federal aid to both the schools themselves and the individuals who attend through financial aid.”

Given the recent credit crisis, a number of large educational projects were put on hold, Haber says, “but we know the funding has been approved; it is a matter of getting it released.” Lately, “we are seeing an increase in the quantity of educational type projects vs. private or commercial construction projects. It appears that the city or state funded projects are moving forward while the new private or new commercial projects have come to a halt,” he said.


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