Volume 27, Issue 3 - May/June2013

From the Editor
The Future’s So Bright

If studies hold true, taking advantage of natural light in architecture is ideal not only for improving comfort levels and energy savings, but also improving occupant performance and productivity. Research on natural light in schools, for instance, suggests children learn faster and do better on standardized tests in classrooms with more daylight. Reports also have indicated that learning rates go up in day-lit classrooms. So, if children are indeed the future, and natural light can enhance their learning abilities, why would we, as a society, not take every possible effort to ensure their success?

The shootings last December in Newtown, Conn., were devastating. Since that time many jurisdictions and school boards have raised concern over the safety levels of schools throughout the country. For some, the question to answer has been this: should glass and windows simply be removed from schools? For some, that’s not an easy one to answer.

Limiting, reducing or eliminating glass usage in schools—not necessarily for the better—could absolutely change the way by which schools are designed and built today. My high school was nearly windowless. Over the years, however, as glass and glass technologies have evolved, so, too, has the way architects design schools. Many newly-constructed schools around the country take full advantage of glass. And just because glass is a significant building material it absolutely does not mean the schools will be any less safe had they been constructed predominantly of brick and mortar. Those advancing glazing technologies have also brought stronger glass and window products; safety films are available; hardware systems, too, have evolved. Yes, you can have glass, natural light and beautiful aesthetics while still providing a safe, productive environment.

This is a topic the architectural industry cannot ignore; I expect to see more and more discussions raised. Turn to page 30 to read an in-depth look at what the future could hold for school designs. You can also visit our sister publication USGlass online at and see the May issue, which was dedicated entirely to school safety. AGG

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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