Most innovative storefront/entrance system

LAUSD High School # 9 >> Enclos Corp.
September 28, 2009

LA Central High School #9, the new flagship campus of the Los Angeles Unified School District, highlights its emphasis on visual and performing arts with a 1,000-seat theater that features a prominent, street-front public entrance of a protruding glass and metal façade.

“The theater entrance to the campus is sited right along one of Los Angeles’ main thoroughfares, providing a dramatic street-level focus to the campus and grand entrance to the theater,” says Mic Patterson, director of strategic development for Enclos Corp., Eagan, Minn., the entrance system designer, fabricator and installer.

The Enclos design team worked closely with the architect to develop a unique yet economical design. The glass façade is faceted into a progression of angular planes that enclose and provide entry into the theater lobby, and 13 unique faces span the lobby at different angles and slopes.

While the entrance was geometrically complex, the design phase went fairly smoothly for the Enclos team. Designs were made from 3-D model geometries rather than conventional drawings, requiring a symbiotic relationship between Enclos Corp. and the architecture team.
“Fabrication and installation were more challenging, especially installation,” Patterson says. “The structural systems are layered, with primary and secondary structural systems by others [mainly Maya Steel, Los Angeles, the structural steel provider]. Our system involved a third level of steel framing that supported an aluminum framing system that held the glass.

System tolerances were thus a concern all the way through the process, and anticipating the required field tolerances at the design stage was problematic.

“The ‘nose cone,’ as it came to be called, ended up requiring a construction mockup based on actual field dimensions, which was used as a template to build the final production piece. There was thus a high level of craftsmanship required in the fabrication and erection of the system,” Patterson says.

The glass-fixing system was designed around an off-the-shelf sloped glazing system from Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga., capable of economically accommodating the façade’s negative slopes. An architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) backer system was then designed to support the Kawneer system.

“Installation was further complicated by the logistical requirements for handling such large pieces of glass on a highly constrained site, and the fact that the entire system had to be erected using man lifts exclusively. The geometry of the structure effectively precluded the use of scaffolding to facilitate installation, with the form of the structure blocking access,” Patterson says.

The custom entry façade comprises 5,600 square feet of sloped glazing and 313 feet of skylight glazing. The system features laminated glass from Glaspro, Santa Fe Springs, Calif., that consists of two lites of ¼-inch low-iron glass sandwiching a .060-inch PVB interlayer.
Coop Himmelblau, Australia, was the architect, and HMC, Los Angeles, the executive architect. PCL Construction Services Inc., with a location in Los Angeles, served as the general contractor.