Windows of Learning

The revitalization of a historic school started with the creation of a single window.
August 11, 2010

 

Windows of Learning

The revitalization of a historic school started with the creation of a single window.

A historical renovation, an immediate-if-not-sooner prototype need, and a tight delivery timeline: Any one of these situations would set the stage for a demanding project, but add extremely specific window unit requirements and the project becomes the sort of challenge that Marvin Windows and Doors is uniquely capable of accomplishing.

Sacramento, California is home to dozens of notable historic buildings, with the city taking particular pride in the work of local architect Leonard Starks, whose firm designed California landmarks including the Fresno Bee Newspaper building in Fresno as well as the Spanish Renaissance Arnold Bros. building and the Fox Senator Theater in Sacramento. When Starks’ legendary Alhambra Theatre was demolished in the early 1970s to make way for a supermarket, Sacramento citizens realized the importance of historic preservation and accelerated efforts to protect other buildings by Stark.

 

As the second-oldest school in the city and a showcase of Starks’ Classicized Moderne style, theC.K.McClatchyHigh SchoolonFreeport Boulevardhad been named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Built in 1936 as one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration Projects, the building originally cost $800,000 to build, and had only received one renovation in its history—an earthquake retrofit 25 years ago. Named after local Sacramento Bee newspaper publisher C.K. McClatchy, the school has a façade that features impressive columns and is a handsome example ofCaliforniaarchitecture.

When originally approached for a 2004 renovation project that would completely revamp and restore the high school, the Marvin Signature Products and Services department faced an immediate task: The creation of a prototype unit built to the project’s unique specifications. All of the school’s 350+ windows, each from the original construction, were in dire need of replacement. As a commercial project and a historic space, a specialized blend of capabilities was necessary to fulfill each opening’s needs. The customer had come to the right place: Although the formal existence of the Marvin Signature Products and Services department is only nine years old, Marvin has offered custom window and door architectural services for more than 20 years. The department exists to serve the needs of building professionals and their most creative and challenging projects. Each project that comes to the department receives the personalized attention and craftsmanship of a local millwork shop, matched with the insight and experience of the world’s largest manufacturer of custom-made windows and doors.

The architect’s request was to create an oversized commercial unit (since most openings were 9' to 10' tall) with historically accurate authentic divided lites, custom casing profiles, and interior glazing that allows individual pane replacement. In addition, the project required laminated glass with a high shading coefficient. Four days later, the architect had a prototype in hand, built precisely to every specification.

An accurate prototype is extremely helpful in the early stages of a project, as architects use the sample unit to confirm visual and technical specifications. Approximately 10% of Marvin’s commercial projects require a prototype to be built, with a team springing to the challenge of creating a custom unit ASAP. Typically, it can take as long as two to four weeks to manufacture a sample, but in certain cases a prototype can be constructed in less than a week, such as with the McClatchy project.

The quick turnaround meant that the architects and builders could immediately begin measuring and specifying specific units for the hundreds of openings. In addition, Marvin was able to provide an accurate project estimate within days of the initial request. Most of the window units were awning assemblies, all with special 2" Clad Authentic Divided Lites to meet historic preservation requirements as well as the architect’s vision. Dan Rood of the Architectural Department at Marvin Windows and Doors comments that many different needs had to be met with each window. “The maintenance department for the city of Sacramento was the driving force behind one specification. Since the customer wanted an interior glazed sash with single-glass Authentic Divide Lites plus a clad exterior, we recommended a StormPlus glazing rated to Impact Zone 4.”

“StormPlus products are what we typically use in the Florida market and for other hurricane-prone areas,” he continued. “As Dade County-rated units, we know they will withstand extreme water and wind conditions as well as flying debris. This offers the students at the high school an additional level of safety. In addition, since the lites could be replaced individually, we met the maintenance department’s need for an easy-to-fix solution, as opposed to removing an entire sash for repair.”

As with any commercial project, extensive contract documents, shop drawings and delivery schedules had to be generated immediately. The exacting documentation of the glass specifications had to include information about the custom aluminum casings and subsills as well as the specially created 2" divided lite bar. “The existing 1930’s windows had 1-1/2" muntins including the putty, so the appearance of the 2" extruded aluminum muntins was readily accepted,” commented Rood, “particularly since our profiles accurately matched the original muntins. We also utilized our existing library of custom extrusions and were able to match existing casing and sill profiles.”

Another remarkable facet of the project is the fact that the Marvin Clad Awning product is not usually available with an interior glazed sash or with clad Authentic Divided Lites, making every unit in the project a truly custom-made window. With many window manufacturers, an architect would have to make do with a non-reglazable sash and simulated divided lites, which would maintain the building’s historic aesthetic but not meet the maintenance and lite replacement requirements. Fortunately, the Marvin Signature Products and Services department was able to provide a solution—one that is unique in the industry.

The Marvin Signature Products and Services recommended the use of Solar Cool Bronze Laminated Glass. As anyone who has been in a high school hallway in between classes can testify, there is a great need to minimize the amount of echoes and any surfaces that cause sound amplification. Solar Cool Bronze Laminated glass is designed specifically for sound control, plus has a high outside reflectance which makes it difficult for people on the exterior to see inside during daylight hours.

As with schools across the nation, McClatchy High has to keep lookout for any opportunity to reduce costs. Considering the skyrocketing expense of heating and cooling, Marvin’s capability to minimize the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) through its exclusive glazings made the windows immediately more appealing to school representatives. And while multi-glaze insulating glass was not specified due to the need for easy glazing replacement, the windows’ low SHGC, high shading coefficient and safety features made up for any loss in insulative properties.

Labor costs are another challenge facing school administrators, and the choice of an extruded aluminum clad exterior is the perfect example of a way to prevent future expenses. Extruded aluminum is much stronger and more protective than roll-form aluminum, plus Marvin’s chrome pre-treatment process prepares the thick metal for optimal adherence to the durable finish. The low-maintenance, commercial-grade Kynar ® finish exceeds the industry’s toughest specification—the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 2605-02. The thick finish resists cracking, fading and chipping, and eliminates the need for regular scraping and painting as would be required with wood exteriors.

On June 11, 2004 , school closed for the summer, and as the 2,400 McClatchy students celebrated their upcoming time off, the renovation work on the school kicked into high gear. Hundreds of assemblies needed to be delivered, in perfect condition and in a specific time frame in order for the enormous project to be completed before students returned for the fall semester. The first order for 486 units had been placed at the end of April, giving Marvin Windows and Doors approximately six weeks to provide the first delivery on June 18. That first delivery and the two phased deliveries that followed arrived without a hitch, and Marvin ensured that shipping and on-site damage was prevented by adding extra blocking to the casing and sill.

The smooth, seamless delivery, while no surprise considering Marvin’s considerable commercial experience with historic and large-scale projects, was a result of a remarkable collaboration within the company. Many teams worked together to meet all of the project’s needs, from sourcing to manufacture to delivery, with cooperation between the Architectural Division, Signature Products and Services, Research and Development and Purchasing ensuring the project’s success. In addition, a strong relationship with Cardinal Glass, the Marvin glass supplier, facilitated an exceptionally large amount of laminated glass being available in a very short period of time.

The extensive renovation has been credited with boosting both student and staff morale. The windows provided by Marvin were a component of a $6.3 million renovation, which in turn was part of a multiyear project totaling $20 million in improvements to the landmark high school, with the new windows offering students views into the three redesigned open-air plazas, updated landscaping, and unobstructed views of the sky for the occasional daydream.

         
 

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