Windows provide light and safety at D.C. psychiatric facility

"While patient safety remains a primary consideration in psychiatric applications, facilities like Saint Elizabeths are creating a more home-like atmosphere with natural light and unrestricted views to the outside," Lisa May, health care market manager, Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis.

The basics: Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., the first large-scale, federally run hospital for people with mental illness, opened its new facility in April 2010. The $140 million, 450,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility relies on sustainable design, including daylighting, to promote the highest quality patient care. To provide necessary natural light, the building features 373 psychiatric-grade window units.  

The players: Owner, District of Columbia, Department of Mental Health, Washington, D.C.; architect, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering, Washington, D.C.; construction manager, Gilbane Building Co., Laurel, Md.; general contractor, Tompkins Builders Inc., Washington, D.C.; glazing contractor, Clyde McHenry Inc., Hyattsville, Md.; glazing systems manufacturer, Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis.; glass fabricator, Viracon Inc.; Owatonna, Minn.; glazing systems finisher, Linetec, Wausau, Wis.

The glass and systems: Psychiatric windows, furnished with interior polycarbonate glazing, that are human-impact resistant to prevent unauthorized egress or passage of contraband. Wausau's 3250-DT Series windows were specified with 5/8-inch, between-glass blinds. The integral blinds reduce the potential dangers of exposed cords and slats. Concealed hinges and tamper-resistant locks secure the opening during normal operating conditions. In the event of an emergency, the operable windows allow rescue personnel to enter the building or to open a series of units for rapid fresh air circulation. The windows were finished with a dark bronze anodize.