Volume 23, Issue 3- May/June 2009


MEDITECH Southcoast Building, Fall River, Mass.

Situated in southeastern Massachusetts with a panoramic glass façade, the Medical Information Technology Inc. (Meditech) Building, also called “Meditech Southcoast,” is a four-story, 122,000-square-foot structure located in Fall River, Mass. The building is located on a 17-acre site that also features a pond—a key amenity that Payette architects Jeff DeGregorio and Matt Bandzak considered when designing the structure. Through the use of multiple types of glazing, both the internal organization of the program and the development of the facades are open to views of the pond.

DeGregorio and Bandzak are well versed on designing with glass.

“Glass is a huge part of most every project on which we work,” says DeGregorio. “We specialize in designing major technology buildings, laboratories/healthcare facilities. These projects are places of intense habitation where there may be many hours spent inside so our idea is to promote the outdoors as part of the indoors [and that can be done through the use of glass].”

Bandzak adds that sustainability is another reason they often use glass in their designs.

“Glass allows you a way to control the environment,” says Bandzak.

The Meditech project is a prime example of how glass and glazing can be used to create a sustainable structure. To meet the state’s stringent thermal requirements, the façade integrates products designed to provide advanced energy performance and indoor environmental quality.

“Depending on which side of the building you’re looking at, each side has a different appearance because [different glazing systems] are used on each side,” says DeGregorio. This was done as a way to optimize solar orientation. Kawneer Co. Inc. served as the window and curtainwall supplier, while Prelco was the glass fabricator.

The south elevatioin features a curved glass wall and side roof overhangs that were installed to shield summer sun, but allow in the low winter sunlight. The curtainwall is hung from the roof to allow for a highly transparent butt-glazed opening. Thin steel plate beams and tension rods were also used at each floor level to resist only the wind load.

The north elevation features repetitive windows constructed with triple-glazed insulating glass to minimize heat loss at openings within the rainscreen terracotta façade. The windows are also contrasted by three large glass slots that provide views of the building’s three communicating stairways.

The east and west ends are clad in zinc and aluminum panels and extend the use of the rainscreen wall from the north façade.

Tower Glass Co. of Woburn, Mass., served as the contract glazier for the project. Rob Nickerson says that while the job was pretty well designed by the time his firm was awarded the contract, he was heavily involved with waterproofing issues and detailing and glass make-up designs with performance criteria.

“Validation of the thermal performance values of our systems was a demanding endeavor,” says Nickerson, who adds that the project as a whole was also very challenging at times. He said the curtainwall shop drawings actually went through three reviews before receiving final approval. Considering the complexity of the project, such attention to detail was critical.

“The architects’ design performance and aesthetics proved to be excellent and that’s the reason this project has gained the notoriety it has after completion. They really looked out for the owner’s interest,” said Nickerson. AG

Owner: Medical Information Technology Inc.
Architect: Payette
General Contractor: Ford Construction Corp.
Contract Glazier: Tower Glass
Status: Completed in 2008

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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