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Fire Rated Glass Makes Visual Connectivity Possible, Beautiful and Affordable at Campus Housing

The design limitations of fire rated ceramic glass have finally given way to a truly clear alternative that meets all fire, safety and hose stream requirements at a fraction of the price.


Project Name:  The Quad at the University of Houston in Houston, TX 
Architect: EYP
Glazier: Haley-Greer Inc.
Products Used: SuperClear 45-HS-LI (patent pending) in GPX Architectural Series Frames and GPX Builders Series Doors

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November 12, 2020 |
UH Quad

SuperClear 45-HS-LI in GPX Architectural Series Frames (pictured above) enables natural light to flow from the outside, through the lounge and into the corridor.

One of the architectural features that students love about the new 1,197-bed Quad on the University of Houston campus is visual connectivity. Nearly every common area is a showcase of light. By day, natural light floods interior spaces and connects students with one of five beautifully landscaped courtyards. 

By night, students returning to their $124 million ‘home away from home’ behold study rooms and lounges alive with light, a visual connection with the vibrant social and scholastic world within. The Quad greeted its first students in late August under the University’s strict pandemic protocols.

“We try very hard not to have visually dead-end corridors where there’s no natural light,” explains Andy Albin, the project executive and a principal with EYP, the architect of The Quad. “It’s all about visual connections.”  Achieving that requires a lot of glass.  

“It’s a really important material to us,” says Albin. “Not just the amount of glass, but the quality of glass. We push for as much glass as we can. Classrooms. Hallways. Lounges. Study rooms.” 

 

SuperClear 45-HS-LI in GPX Architectural Series Frames and GPX Builders Series Door (pictured above) uses low-iron glazing for superior optical clarity that even expensive, premium polished versions of ceramic cannot match.

Their design emphasis on transparency through glass has made the design team particularly critical specifiers. If you stake an aesthetic on a material, it had better be a good one.

The project called for a large amount of 45 minute fire and safety rated glazing.  At that time, ceramic glazing was specified.  But it had an aesthetic drawback: a noticeable tint, which is sometimes amber, sometimes greyish-green. “That industrial tint interferes with the transparency we strive for,” Albin says. 

Safety is also a concern.  Ceramic glass is brittle, and breaks easily on impact.  For it to meet CPSC safety glazing requirements for doors, sidelites, and other hazardous locations in the IBC, it would have to be either filmed or laminated – which adds to its already high cost.  

How do you meet all fire and safety code requirements, including the hose stream test? Is there a way to address life-safety and aesthetic concerns? 

In 2019, SAFTI FIRST introduced SuperClear 45-HS-LI (patent pending), a clear, low-iron, 45minute, specialty fire protective glazing product that meets all fire, safety and hose stream requirements without any wires, tints, films or laminates.  It is listed by both UL and Intertek in large sizes for use in 45 minute interior and exterior applications. SuperClear 45-HS-LI is proudly USA-made with fast lead times and costs significantly less compared to imported filmed and laminated ceramics used in the same 45-minute applications. 

Knowing the aesthetic demands of the project, SAFTI FIRST worked with Haley-Greer, the awarded glazier, to present SuperClear 45-HS-LI as a clear, code-approved solution for the 45-minute glazing used in this project.  SAFTI FIRST prepared product samples, UL and Intertek listing reports, and other product data for Haley-Greer’s project management team to submit to EYP.  SuperClear 45-HS-LI was submitted with SAFTI FIRST’s GPX Architectural Series frames for the interior and exterior openings and GPX Builders Series for the interior and exterior doors.  

“This was as clear a glass as you can get [Visible Light Transmittance rating: 90%]. The frame comes in a very low profile which adds even more to the aesthetic. Our lead architect told me, ‘This is the best product out there,’” Albin says.

Because of the product’s superior aesthetic, performance and documented testing from UL and Intertek, SuperClear 45-HS-LI received quick approval and is featured throughout The Quad.

 

UH CampusSuperClear 45-HS-LI in GPX Builders Series Door and GPX Architectural Series Sidelite (pictured above) meets all the fire, safety and hose stream requirements without the need for films or laminates. UL and Intertek listed.

“This is a project of which we are extremely proud. It achieved the architect’s vision exactly,” says Tim Nass, VP of Sales at SAFTI FIRST. “It’s not often that a VE option is an upgrade for architects, but in this case, it absolutely was.  With SuperClear 45-HS-LI, they got an affordable, USA-made, aesthetically superior product over ceramics that 100% complied with code and their specification.”

If you have any current or upcoming projects that could benefit from SuperClear 45-HS-LI or any of SAFTI FIRST’s comprehensive line of USA-made fire rated entrances, openings, storefront, curtainwalls or floors, visit www.safti.com or call us toll-free at 888.653.3333

 

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