On the Fly  
For Dynamic Glass, Airports  
are an Intriguing Sector  
b y N i c k S t . D e n i s  
he office, educational and healthcare building  
segments have been primary adopters of electro-  
chromic dynamic glass. The ability to program  
various levels of tint to adjust light transmittance,  
This was the case at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul  
Airport, which recently underwent a retrofit of an  
east-facing façade in one of its terminals. As is the  
situation with most airport projects, the design  
team didn’t have the luxury of positioning the  
facades based on sun direction, as they often are  
at the mercy of runway and roadway orientation.  
“Because of the orientation of the building,  
t
glare and solar heat gain is a welcome amenity in  
these environments, where occupant comfort is at  
a premium.  
But what about a certain type of structure that  
consistently uses massive spans of glass and houses the checkpoint had to be developed in a way in  
large numbers of people every day?  
What about airports?  
which workers would be facing southeast through  
the glass with the sun penetrating directly into  
their eyes,” says architect Greg Maxam of the firm  
Alliiance, which designed the project.  
Faced with this challenge, his team conducted  
solar studies on how it could implement glass in  
Meeting Needs  
It’s kind of a neat, self-contained niche,” says  
SageGlass director of customer experience Derek  
Malmquist. “Every major metropolitan area has an a way that would maximize views and daylight  
airport. And just like what we’ve seen in health- while minimizing glare and heat gain. It ultimately  
care, they’re starting to think more about the ben- settled on using Sage’s electrochromic glass, which  
efits of occupant comfort—for both the employees  
and the guests traveling through.”  
is zoned both horizontally and vertically to various  
tint levels depending on time of day and year.  
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Maxam says the upper portion of the façade  
also includes Solera translucent glazing to maxi-  
mize daylight.  
The combination of using electrochromic glass  
in the view range with a translucent product in  
the upper section was very useful and has been a  
success,” he says. “And we were also able to meet  
other specialty considerations that come with air-  
ports, such as security.”  
It was Maxam’s first project working with elec-  
trochromic glass, but he plans to implement it  
again in future transportation structure designs.  
Its electrochromic glass was recently installed  
at the new Delta Sky Club in the Seattle-Tacoma  
International Airport. The glass allows members  
and guests to enjoy unobstructed views of Mount  
Rainier without glare or thermal discomfort. It  
also enables the facility owner to maintain tem-  
perature at optimal levels and maximize the nat-  
ural daylight by eliminating the need for internal  
blinds and shading structures.  
The Minneapolis-St. Paul  
Airport, which applied  
SageGlass in a façade  
renovation, is a prime  
example of how the  
airport building segment  
is an intriguing prospect  
for electrochromic glass.  
No More Shade  
View, another manufacturer of dynamic glass,  
has seen a rising interest in dynamic glass in the  
airport segment for the same purposes and appli-  
cations. As large expanses of glass continue from  
the entrances into the gates and waiting areas, so  
do the opportunities for the product.  
The ability of dynamic glass to replace these  
devices has been a key benefit of focus, aside from  
the solar control capabilities.  
continued on page 20  
Spring 2017  
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19  
On the Fly  
continued from page 19  
View’s dynamic  
glass was used  
in the façade of a  
new administration  
building at Meacham  
International Airport  
in Fort Worth, Texas.  
0 feet tall, where using blinds and traditional  
You’ll see glass walls anywhere from ten to  
Seeing the Value  
2
Manufacturers in the industry still see commer-  
cial and institutional buildings such as offices,  
hospitals and educational facilities as the top users  
of dynamic glass. However, the airport sector and  
transportation segment as a whole has proven a  
worthy market area.  
shading systems is less desirable,” says Brandon  
Tinianov, vice president of business development  
at View. “In addition to that, airports have  
mandates—either self-imposed or externally—  
to be the destination and representation of the  
future. Pulling down manual blinds in 2020 is  
non-sustainable.”  
Tinianov says another demand driver he was  
surprised to learn about was a plea from mainte-  
nance staff and interior design teams seeking an  
alternative to automatic shading devices. “They  
don’t like the idea of maintaining automated  
blinds,” he says.  
The airport segment provides for a variety of  
applications beyond the main terminal and gate  
areas. For example, View had its dynamic glass  
installed on the facades of a new administration  
building at Meacham International Airport in  
Fort Worth, Texas.  
“The pre-conception of airports is that they’re  
slow and take five to ten years to complete the  
design and construction process,” says Tinianov.  
“But we’ve found they’re more agile than what we  
initially thought, sometimes in the two- to three-  
year window. And even the more long-term  
projects are beneficial.”  
Malmquist adds that the airport sector reinforc-  
es the value proposition of electrochromic glass.  
“Whether you’re considering the employees  
working there all day or the guests coming through,  
it solves the typical problems of heat and glare,” he  
says. “And what’s great is it serves this dual benefit  
for both the travelers and workers. That’s the thing  
about airports that is a bit unique.” AGG  
Sage’s glass was also recently used in a  
smaller airport application at the King County  
International Airport in Seattle. The electrochro-  
mic glazing was applied at its on-site aircraft rescue Glass & Metal. He can be reached at nstdenis@glass.com.  
Nick St. Denis is the editor of Architects’ Guide to  
and fire-fighting station.  
Follow him on Twitter @NickStDenis.  
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Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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