Glass Innovations: Glass Reaches New Heights

September 4, 2012

Dynamic glass tames the sun in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center.

Philadelphia’s iconic Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has transformed a once nearly uninhabitable rooftop garden terrace into a comfortable glass-enclosed social space with the help of SageGlass® dynamic glass.

The Kimmel Center is a city-block-wide collection of performance halls and open spaces enclosed inside a soaring 150-ft-high barrel-vaulted glass roof. Atop the center’s highest elevation—on the roof of Perelman Theater—sits the Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden Terrace, which offers stunning views of the cityscape and overlooks the entire Kimmel Center complex. But the barrel vault roof made the terrace space too hot in daylight and reflected noise from events, interrupting other guests below.

Today, the new Hamilton Garden Terrace has been transformed into an elegant glass and steel structure that effectively manages both the noise and environmental problems of the original space. The new $14 million renovation features a vibrant ballroom-type space for weddings and events, and food service run by celebrity chef Jose Garces of the Food Network’s Iron Chef.

The new glass enclosure limits event sound propagation while SageGlass serves as the structure’s 2,100-sq-ft rooftop, taming the sun without blocking the cityscape views. SageGlass is electronically tintable dynamic glass for windows, skylights and curtain walls that tints or clears to modulate light, heat gain, and glare. Rather than using conventional sun controls (such as mechanized window shades, blinds and louvers) that tend to block sunlight and views, SageGlass provides a solution that enhances occupant comfort and enables unobstructed views of the outdoors.

“We initially designed in motorized shades that would be pulled during the hot times of the day because we knew the solar load would be so intense,” said Donna Lisle, an architect with BLT Architects. “But motorized shades are expensive, often break or won’t close evenly, and you can’t see out through them. The glazing contractor, APG International Inc., suggested we look at SageGlass as an alternative, which has worked out perfectly for the project.”

Lisle said that SageGlass also helped them achieve a “wow” factor that the building owner wanted in the architectural design.

“When the SageGlass skylights fully tint, they create this big defined square of clear cobalt blue that is stunning to view from the plaza below or outside from the street,” she said. “The building owner also wanted the design to enhance the rental appeal of the terrace as a ‘sky room,’ which was characterized by its connection to the day and night sky and the unique perspective of seeing the cityscape from above. Being able to maintain those views with electrochromic glass helped us achieve those objectives.”

Edward Zaucha, CEO of APG International, the glazier who installed all of the glass in the terrace roof, said he was glad that they had SageGlass in their product lineup when it came time to bid this project. “With its barrel roof and extraordinary amount of daylight, the Hamilton Garden Terrace presented us with some interesting glazing challenges. For solar control, SageGlass delivered a solution that no other glazing could provide,” he said. “In this way, SageGlass helped us solve a problem for our customer and at the same time helped us differentiate our business from other glaziers.”

About SAGE Electrochromics Inc.

SAGE Electrochromics is a leading manufacturer of electronically tintable glass that can be tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass controls the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. SageGlass can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%.

The company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry.” SAGE is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain.

For further information, visit

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