Architect Dennis O'Beirne on Kalwall Translucent Insulated Glazing

July 01, 2007 |

Kalwall's translucent fenestration system is a structural composite sandwich panel formed by permanently bonding (under heat and pressure) fiberglass-reinforced translucent faces to a grid core constructed of interlocked aluminum-composite, thermally broken I-beams. Millions of prismatic glass fibers imbedded in the faces refract sunshine and even overcast daylight, providing a balanced, diffused wash of natural light without glare and UV rays.

Dennis O'Beirne, architectural manager for Southfield, Mich.-based architecture and construction firm Giffels, specified Kalwall glazing for more than a dozen of substation renovation projects for Detroit Edison. The glazing replaced hundreds of rusted steel sash windows in the 90-year-old buildings.

Why Dennis O'Beirne specified Kalwall glazing for Detroit Edison:

“The aluminum framing has excellent weathering capability and is available with a thermal break to complement the glazing system's high energy efficiency. The U-value of the base system is 0.29, a huge improvement over the poor, 1.05 U-value of the single-pane glazing in the original buildings.”

“The standard system has very good impact resistance, especially compared to glass. A high-impact option is available for projects where vandalism is a concern, like tough neighborhood locations.”

“The product was specified as a cost-effective solution over alternative approaches originally considered by the building owner, such as glass block. The glazing allows a daylight light transmission factor of 20% for the standard white panels. We used clear plastic glazing vent units to provide substation operators with a line of sight and operable units for building ventilation.”


Dennis O'Beirne, AIA

Manager of architectural services, Giffels, Southfield, Mich.

O'Beirne joined Giffels in 1979 as manager of architectural services. He is responsible for architectural design and development, including organizing and maintaining administrative controls for the architectural group, especially technical quality control.

O'Beirne also has experience in project specifications, sustainable design, code compliance reviews, and contract negotiations for architectural building projects, and has lectured about sustainable design at several universities, including Harvard and Michigan State University.

O'Beirne holds a bachelor's of science and a BArch from Lawrence Technical University, and an MBA from the University of Detroit.
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