Future of Learning and Learning Centers

As one form of giving back to the community where he grew up, Tiger Woods has built a $25-million educational facility in Anaheim, CA, that combines not only the latest learning technology inside, but also the latest building technology outside.

To realize the famous golfer’s generous vision, architectural firm Langdon Wilson designed the Tiger Woods Learning Center (TWLC) to be powered by both a rooftop solar array and also a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) curtainwall engineered by Wausau Window and Wall Systems. The uniquely shaped, gently sloping curtainwall on the learning center’s 200-seat auditorium’s southwest corner intrigued guests at its opening in February, 2006. In its first year, nearly 3,000 4th-12th graders are anticipated to take advantage of the 35,000-sq.-ft. facility and its interactive learning environment.

Culminating a four-year construction effort, achieving TWLC’s desired look and the BIPV system’s proper performance demanded close collaboration between all the building team’s members. Designed by Solar Design Associates (SDA) in Harvard, MA, and installed by The Carvist Corporation of Placentia, CA, Wisconsin-based Wausau engineered and manufactured TWLC’s energy-generating curtainwall system. According to SDA, the BIPV system will produce 3,800 kilowatts of energy per year.

“We are particularly excited by this system because it is the first of its kind in the United States to be installed as part of a building envelope,” says Marcie Edwards, general manager of Anaheim Public Utilities.

To span the 21-ft.-high by 65-ft.-wide opening, the building team selected Wausau’s SuperWall system using photovoltaic (PV) modules from SCHOTT North America, Inc. The vertical mullions that fully enclose the building’s structural steel were specially fabricated to integrate the wiring of the PV modules. Wausau’s engineer Tom Mifflin says that the project’s BIPV curtainwall was tested and certified for safety by the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) and also complies with the seismic requirements of California’s building code.

Steve Fronek, Wausau’s vice president, elaborates“We brought a unique combination of disciplines to ensure a safe, code-compliant, façade-integrated PV array that met the project’s unique power, aesthetic and installation criteria. At the same time, we ensured the weather resistance, structural integrity and performance standards.”

“This project pushes the envelope, and everyone seems very pleased with the outcome — how it looks, how it performs,” says George Ness of The Carvist Corporation. “It came together the right way.”

Helping accomplish this, the wall system was carefully sequenced and shipped “knocked-down” in 11 vertical ladder frames for accurate assembly at the site. Each framing unit contains five lites and, due to the curtainwall’s sloping and splayed design, each lite varied in size. The lites also varied in opacity and power-generation: the top panels of the PV array produce 72 watts each with an opacity of five percent, while the lower panels offer 25 percent opacity and produce 60 watts of energy. The bottom and largest lites in the framing system are clear vision glass. SDA’s President Steven Strong observes the effect of this shaded transition across the auditorium’s two-story height resembles that of a car’s graduated windshield.

In addition to TWLC’s auditorium, the school includes seven classrooms, a computer lab, a multimedia center, a student lounge and a café, plus a driving range and an 18-hole putting course. Its students receive extra training in reading, math and science in a high-tech, wireless environment. Career exploration, good sportsmanship and community involvement also are part of the educational opportunities offered at the TWLC. Supplementing and enhancing the curricula of other school programs in the area, the center’s full-time educators teach day, after-school and weekend classes.

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle predicts, “The Tiger Woods Learning Center is going to have a great impact on the youth of Anaheim and their families.” At the celebration on February 10, 2006, Tiger Woods himself stated, “My goal for the TWLC is to provide students with a place to explore their dreams and open doors to new opportunities and potential career paths. This is their center, and I hope it serves as a launching pad to great success.”