Volume 36, Issue 1, January 2001

Skylight Extravaganza
Skylight Companies Keep Busy with Latest Innovations

By Penny Beverage

Once often seen strictly in residential applications, skylights are now making their way into commercial applications, popping up in theaters, hospitals, gardens and even shopping centers. Skylights come in all shapes and sizes, from the world’s largest to the mini-skylights seen almost everywhere these days. Read on to check out some of the latest news in the world of skylights and ponder the unanswerable question: where next?

Metcoe Brightens West with Skylights
Metcoe Skylight Specialties of Gardena, Calif., has been busy recently. The company has taken on two large construction projects—one in San Francisco and another in Albuquerque, N.M., both of which Metcoe has completed with its innovative skylights.

In the first of these projects, the company designed and engineered a skylight for a botanical garden in Albuquerque, N.M. The skylight is composed of two separate atrium skylights supported by a special aluminum space frame. Then, the skylight’s slanted design required custom-engineered fastenings to the aluminum space frame to prevent any unusual movement and load distribution to the space frame modes. Both skylights were assembled on the ground and attached to the space frames. Once assembled, the entire unit was hoisted onto the steel columns. Metcoe itself installed the glass and skylight.
Viracon of Owatonna, Minn., supplied the 15/16-inch-thick VE2-55 insulating, laminated, low-E coated glass for the skylights. The entire unit was composed of more than 12,000-square-feet of glass and 425 individual pieces. Each aluminum extrusion was then painted with custom Kynar finish after the entire skylight was fabricated to prevent the possibility of exposed aluminum edges in the installation, according to Metcoe.
The skylight was originally designed by the architectural firm, Mazria Associates. Bradury & Stamm Construction oversaw the skylight’s construction.

In Metcoe’s San Francisco project, the company equipped one of the San Francisco International Airport terminals with an intricate skylight system. According to the company, it composed and installed the skylight using almost 3,000 pieces of insulating laminated glass in the elliptical-shaped custom metal framed skylights, including a 700-foot glass canopy in the west end of the terminal. Altogether, the skylights are composed of 40,000-square-feet of glass.

While planning for the skylights’ construction, Metcoe built a full scale 90-foot by 30-foot wide prototype of the project in an effort to understand and plan for the independent geometric design of the five roof skylights. The skylights are framed by 3/16-inch thick aluminum panels, which have a Kynar XL silver metallic finish and were designed, engineered and fabricated by Global Architectural Panels in Gardena.
For more info, circle card #59.

Naturalite Equips Children’s Hospital with Solarium
Naturalite Skylight Systems of Terrell, Texas, has installed three skylight units at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. The company installed a 68-feet wide by 7-feet high solarium with a spiral entrance. In addition, Naturalite constructed and installed two other skylights. The first is 3-feet by 47-feet and is a single slope segmented skylight with a 45-degree pitch. The other is a segmented ridge unit with one fanned end, 29-feet wide by 72-feet long with 75 LF of variable slope connected to a high roof.
For more info, circle card #60.

ASC Begins Installation of World’s Largest Unitized Skylight
Architectural Skylights Co. (ASC) of Waterboro, Maine, is currently building what the company says will be, upon completion, the largest unitized skylight in the world. The structure will serve as an integral part of Philadelphia’s Regional Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled to open in fall 2001. ASC assembled the skylight’s 1,512 pieces in its factory and transported them by truck to Philadelphia from the Waterboro plant. Although the actual installation of the skylight, which was originally designed by Rafael Viñoly of Rafael Viñoly Architects PC, has not yet begun, the company hopes to complete its installation in August 2001.

The vaulted skylight consists of 36 smaller skylights arching over the vault. The structure is 175-feet wide, 358-feet long and 90-feet high. It is composed of 130,000-square-feet of gray laminated low-E coated glass, supplied by Viracon of Owatonna, Minn. ASC will utilize more than 80,000 fasteners and 15 custom extrusions, finished with 30 new dyes created just for this project, by the time it completes the installation next year. In addition, 2,281 tons of reinforcing steel bars, 61,048 linear feet of structural steel tubing to support the glass roof, 1,400 tons of steel, and 66 tons of weights were used in the construction of the center and in support of the giant skylight. ASC will install the skylight itself.

The skylight will cover a 2,500-seat concert hall and a 650-seat recital theater. To view the progress of the center’s construction, visit the center’s website at http://www.rpac.org. The site is updated every five minutes via live camera on the construction site.