Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Creating Dynamic Spaces with Dynamic Glass

Dynamic Glass

Daylighting provides many benefits to students in an educational environment. That is why KSQ made natural light a priority when working on the Residential and Dining Commons at SMU.

When KSQ Design completed the Residential & Dining Commons at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas in 2014 the firm had taken on one of the largest student housing projects in North America and the largest installation of electrochromic glass in the Southwest to date. For nearly two decades the National Institute of Building Sciences has been providing data and supporting evidence on the benefits of daylighting in educational environments, and this project shows how a design team found a way to make daylighting comfortable even in the hot Texas sun.

The 29,658-square-foot Anita and Truman Arnold Dining Commons is a LEED Gold building offering 500 seats and the design pays tribute to Thomas Jefferson’s design of The Rotunda at the University of Virginia. KSQ wanted to add a 3,300-squarefoot glass curtain wall to the two-story rotunda and create a modern take on a classical design.

The two-story dome tops a high-performance wall of dynamic glass that is clear or tinted as needed due to its monitoring of actual conditions and prediction of the sun. It directs solar heat and visible light and has a solid-state coating with nano-layers of metal oxides helping it seamlessly transition through four stages. On the operations side, the system is iPad-controlled and reduces electricity consumption by 20 percent on average.

Thomas Jefferson’s design of The Rotunda was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and, he said, represented the power of reason and authority of nature. Incorporating daylighting into the dining commons design was a decision made based on reasons important to the client, end user and environment. A 3,300-squarefoot glass wall automatically tracking the sun and adjusting for comfort, energy efficiency and optimal daylighting is surely progress the American founding father and architect would approve of.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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