Glazed addition modernizes Brutalist library

The 50,000 sq. ft. addition responds to the needs of an open, collaborative, & sustainable library

AIA partner Guardian Glass explores how the renovation and expansion of the Forsyth County Central Library in North Carolina transformed two awkward concrete buildings into a modern, light-filled community space.

glass facade of building

Forsyth County leadership considered many sites for a new library before deciding to renovate the existing Forsyth County Central Library. The facility in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., was a complex of two Brutalist-style concrete buildings constructed 30 years apart and connected at a single point of circulation, awkwardly splitting the library program in two. RATIO designed a renovation and expansion that transformed the structure into a seamless, open plan of daylight-filled spaces for the community. Dysfunctional parts of the existing buildings were demolished, functional areas were renovated, and an addition was constructed to respond to the library’s 21st-century needs.

Multiple studies have shown that occupants benefit from natural light and views, such as better test performance, improved productivity, and feelings of well-being and better moods. RATIO’s design leverages daylighting in several spaces, and the design allows that light to penetrate deep into the interior. To best utilize natural light while managing energy performance, RATIO selected two Guardian Glass products.

Guardian SunGuard SNX 62/27 coated glass on the building’s northeast elevation provides a high visible light transmission of 62% with a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.27 to maximize the amount of natural light coming into the structure while providing transparency and connectivity, an important goal for a facility that strives to be a hub for the community.

“Guardian SunGuard coated glass provided the right performance to meet the energy performance goals for this project, while providing abundant visible light tempered with solar heat management,” explained RATIO Principal Kevin Huse, AIA. “The glass team worked with RATIO to combine Guardian SunGuard coated glass with acid-etched glass in some insulated glass units (IGUs), and a 40% white dot frit on other IGUs. Combined with IGUs that used Guardian SunGuard SNX 62/27 coating on clear glass, these three looks allowed us to get the coloration and tinting just right, bringing the pattern we envisioned to life on the façade.”

On the southwest elevation, SunGuard SNX 51/23 coated glass combines a visible light transmission of 51% with a low solar heat gain coefficient of 0.23 on clear glass to make sure daylit spaces do not result in too much heat distracting the patrons and employees and taxing the facility’s HVAC system.

The glass was fabricated by Press Glass and installed by Pfaff’s Glass. The result is a project that earned RATIO a 2018 Community Appearance Award from the City of Winston-Salem, and the project was also included in American Libraries magazine’s 2018 Library Design Showcase.

Visit Guardian Glass to learn more.

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