Most innovative curtain-wall component

Intertec Sunshades for the MIT Media Lab, Doralco Architectural Metals


The MIT Media Lab in Cambridge ,Mass., is known for many things. Recently praised for innovations such as the robotic ankle and the stackable electric city car, the tenants' new building is equally creative. Knowing the sunshades defined the look of the building, glazing contractor Karas & Karas Glass Co.'s decision to use Doralco's Intertec Sunshades for the MIT Media Lab was critical. "Everyone loves an opportunity to show what they can do," says Tom O'Malley, vice president of sales, Doralco Architectural Metals, Alsip, Ill. "When Karas & Karas [South Boston, Mass.] brought us in to create the sunshades that would become the skin on the glass of this building, we couldn't resist."

More than 20,000 square feet of 100 percent recyclable vertical sunscreens cover the exterior of the building, creating an array of diffused light patterns within the building throughout the day. More than 28 miles of ¾-inch diameter extruded aluminum pipe is utilized within the screen assemblies.

Catwalks for access around the perimeter were designed into the unique sunshades and attached directly to the outriggers, providing functionality to the modern design. The screen assemblies are directly hung off of the building structure via a series of custom-engineered steel anchor and outrigger assemblies that integrate within the curtain-wall façades.

The curtain-wall facades feature a mix of 1-inch insulating glass units from Viracon, Owatonna, Minn. Half of the units incorporate ¼-inch clear glass with Viracon's Solarscreen 2000 low-E coating on the No. 2 surface. The remaining units feature ¼-inch low-iron, ultra-clear glass with a custom dot pattern silkscreen, and Viracon's Solarscreen 2000 low-E coating on the No. 2 surface. All of the glass was heat-strengthened or fully tempered where required by safety glazing codes.

"This project had all of the right elements to create outstanding architecture: creative architects, passionate contractors and quality suppliers. We are excited to be such a dynamic part of it," O'Malley says.

Japan's Maki Associates and Boston's Leers Weinzapfel Architects were the architects for the project, and Bond Brothers Inc., Everett, Mass., was the general contractor.