Shading in Glass

Daylighting with hermetically sealed computer- controlled louvers between lites
By A.S. Berman
August 1, 2007

A little privacy please
Louver-integrated windows aren’t just handy for energy savings. Unicel Architectural Corp. in Longueuil, Quebec, has built a successful business marketing its Vision Control line of windows to hospitals throughout North America, such as the Children’s Hospital in Boston, and as far away as Japan and Saudi Arabia.

The units feature extruded aluminum louvers sandwiched between two lites, from simple low-E treated panes to the lead glass used in X-ray procedures to shield health-care workers.

“Because it’s a hermetic seal, there’s no need to clean the blinds, so you increase infection control,” says Viviane Chan, director of sales and marketing for the company’s Vision Control products.

Unicel supplies Vision Control units for some  exterior curtain wall projects, including the Ohzma Gakuen building in Tokyo (below). However, the bulk of its sales are for interior doors and partitions, Chan says, more than 100 projects each year. Ninety-five percent of those are in the United States.

Though the company offers options for blind automation, it sells more manually operated units than motorized, Chan says. Costs range from $50 to $300 per square foot, depending on whether a unit is motorized and what type of coating is applied. “You get total privacy when you need it,” she adds, “and vision when required.”


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The author is a freelance writer, Scottsdale, Ariz.,