Today, there are a wide range of glass and framing systems that are just as fire-resistive as conventional solid walls. These clear, new glazing solutions are also impact safe, an important consideration in schools. Using this new category of fire-resistant glazing, designers can create walls, doors, interior courtyards and other interior spaces that use large areas of clear transparent fire-rated glass. Not only do these new products give architects greater aesthetic design flexibility, but they help bring light into deep interior spaces, reduce energy use, reduce noise and improve security. Below are some examples of how architects used fire-rated glazing to create spaces that combine light, vision and aesthetics with maximum fire safety.
Exterior Fire-Rated Glazing for Property Lines and Wildfire Protection
While it is more common to use fire-rated glazing in the building interior, there are instances where the threat of fire comes from outside the building. This happens when a particular part of the building is in close proximity to property lines or when a building is in an area prone to wild fires. Using fire-rated glass in these applications allows for natural light to illuminate the space while providing unobstructed views to the outdoors. Fire-rated glass can also be insulated with low-e glazing to keep heat gain at a minimum.
In the case of the San Francisco Jewish Home, SuperLite II-XL 60 IGU meets property line requirements. SAFTIFIRST provided a custom-designed glass curtain wall that freely spans an area almost 30 feet high. The top lites were sandblasted to provide a soft filtered lighting effect and create a calm environment where the occupants can relax.
For the Serra Mesa Library in San Diego County, the architect wanted to provide views and use as much daylight as possible to illuminate the space. However, fire protection was also a concern because the area experiences frequent wildfires. To meet all the design team’s requirements, SAFTIFIRST supplied SuperLite II-XL 60 IGU to enable light and vision into the space and provide maximum life and property protection in the event of a fire.
Interior Fire-Rated Glazing to Connect to Outside
There are also instances where the interior fire rated glazing is required to match the look of the exterior non-rated glazing system. This offers greater transparency, better penetration of natural light and an unobstructive visual connection to the outside.
In the case of the new recreation center at California State University, Fullerton, SAFTIFIRST provided a 2-hour separation wall with 90 minute pair doors using SuperLite II-XL and GPX Framing to protect the exit enclosure against fire, smoke and radiant heat. The design of the fire-rated glazing system matched the exterior non-rated glazing system beautifully, achieving all of the architect’s performance and aesthetic requirements.
Transferring Daylight from the Skylight
Another strategy that architects employ is maximizing the daylight that comes through a skylight and flows into corridors, lobbies and other parts of the building. At the heart of the architect’s design for Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was a huge skylight that was intended to let as much natural light into the space as possible. Since the interior courtyard wall required a 2-hour rating, SAFTIFIRST supplied SuperLite II-XL 120 to meet the fire safety requirements of the code and allow the daylight coming from the skylight above to penetrate into the classrooms and other adjacent areas of the school.
Shared Lighting Between Occupancies and Exits
Designers incorporate fire-rated glazing into walls, corridors and stairwells that separate occupancies and exits in order to provide shared light in interior spaces, decrease lighting and cooling loads and increase security with visibility.
In the case of North Layton Junior High School, Salt Lake City, Utah, the architects used SuperLite II-XL 120 to enable the light from the library to migrate into the exit corridor while still providing a safe path of egress in the event of a fire.
In addition to shared lighting, fire-rated glass can also be used to provide additional security in areas that are tucked away from view. Stairwells can be areas where attacks occur, because are often closed off, with very little or no transparency. For Reece School in New York, the architects selected SuperLite II-XL 120 to share the light between the corridor and the stairwell and to provide visibility, security and a greater sense of openness.
If you would like to learn more about the many ways that architects use fire-rated glass to optimize aesthetics, lighting, security, and energy efficiency while meeting code requirements, please do not hesitate to contact SAFTI FIRST at 888.653.3333 or via email.