Great Glazing: Jerome L. Greene Science Center

The basics: Columbia University’s 10-story Jerome L. Greene Science Center features a striking 175,988- square-foot building envelope, consisting primarily of floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The façade system incorporates six wall types, including high performance structural façades, double skin walls, and a series of metal and glass canopies and vestibules. The center is the first building completed as part of Columbia’s Manhattanville campus expansion, which was selected by the U.S. Green Building Council for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Design pilot program. The project is the result of collaborative design-assist and designbuild delivery processes.

“The [design-assist] process was integral to the project success. We would meet every two weeks, go over design solutions, address design issues on each wall type in succession,” says Mic Patterson, Enclos’ vice president of strategic development. “The collaborative workflow provided a great opportunity to develop relationships among key members of the project team, relationships that benefited the project through the entire building process to final installation.”

The players: Architects, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, SOM; construction manager, Lend Lease; façade design, fabrication, contract glazing, Enclos Corp.; glass fabricator, AGC Interpane.

The glass and systems: Six wall types in all, including a double-skin system consisting of an outboard skin of laminated glass (two ¼-inch lites with a PVB interlayer), a 16-inch cavity, with a cast stainless steel bracket that separates the two skins, and an inboard, insulating, laminated unit with a low-emissivity coating. The blastresistant double-skin façade features large units—each spanning two floors and consisting of three modules— measuring 7 feet 10 ½ inches by 29 feet 6 inches and weighing about 4,500 pounds each. Operable units on the interior skin allow for easy maintenance of glazing and shading systems.

“The primary motivation for the double skin was noise mitigation from a nearby rail line that is within 60 feet of the building,” Patterson says.

The systems were designed to allow easy removal of the shades without any tools required. “The units were completely assembled at the factory, including the interior shading devices within the cavity of the doubleskin units,” Patterson says.