Most Innovative Curtain-wall Project

Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, HKS Inc.

Photos by HKS Inc.

Children’s Health System’s desire to differentiate the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children from the institutional-looking University of Alabama Birmingham medical center led to the creation of a predominately glass curtain wall, expressed as cantilevered planes of glass framed by white concrete.

Designed by architecture firm HKS Inc., in cooperation with GA Studio, the building façade features different glass types and patterned glass to subtly add variation to the curtain wall. The variegated façade consists of four glass types that incorporate two spandrel glass color variations, vision glass and vision glass with a fritted dot pattern. Fabricated by Viracon, all of the glass types are insulating units with a low-emissivity, low-reflective coating. The curtain wall provides each patient room with an expansive glazing area that features both fritted and non-fritted vision glass.

To introduce a playfulness to the façade, HKS also incorporated vertical bands of colored metal panels framed into the curtain wall and illuminated by LEDs integrated into a custom vertical metal fin extrusion. The vertical fins accentuate the subtle curve of the building by becoming more visually prominent when viewed at an acute angle. The horizontal mullions are butt-joint on the exterior.

“The great use of glass [and metal] to introduce color, warmth and variation, and humanize the of a massive children’s hospital facade [makes this a winning project],” says Glass Magazine Award Judge BJ Katz, principal/art director for Meltdown Glass Art & Design Inc.

Several studies were done early in the design process to develop a pattern for the different glass types and colored metal panels, according to HKS. A mock-up was built on site to review the curtain-wall construction, glass types, colored panels, and precast concrete and metal panels that compose the building’s exterior. The building team also reviewed the LED lights in the vertical metal fins on the mock-up.

The 750,000-square-foot, 12-story Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children received Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, and represents the largest medical facility expansion in the history of Alabama, according to hospital officials.

Physical Security LLC supplied and installed the curtain-wall system. Alcoa Architectural Products supplied the Reynobond metal panels. Hoar Construction and BE&K Building Group Inc. were the construction managers for the project.