Duke University in North Carolina, USA, regularly ranks among the top 20 best universities worldwide. The quality of teaching is not the only reason for the excellent reputation of the institution. The spacious campus is also impressive. Over 250 buildings are located on the almost 35 square kilometre sized site. Some are organized along urban principles, some are scenically embedded in the picturesque parks and gardens of the university. The students, inspired by the primarily Gothic Revival architecture, like to call Duke “Gothic Wonderland”. Architects from Shepley Bulfinch have now completed the glass “Penn Pavilion”, planned as the inaugural project within the scope of a broader initiative to update this wonderland.
The architects have employed the vernacular design and materialism of modern glass construction as a sensitive response to the Gothic Revival environment. The structurally glazed system provides a light, transparent counterpoint to the sculptural stone façades of the older buildings and their era. Parallel to this, the plinth of the Pavilion, constructed from the same local stone as used for the adjacent façades of the West Campus, integrates itself into its surroundings.
From the outset the architects’ plans were designed to allow the Pavilion to be adapted easily and quickly to changing usage requests. The building will be used as a temporary substitute dining facility. The floor space of approx. 2 300 square metres provides seating for 450 diners. The long layout allows the building to be repurposed for optimum, flexible use in the long term – either as a single event space without dividing walls for up to 700 people or three smaller partitioned spaces. Building services, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, as well as artificial lighting systems and daylight planning have been designed to be integrated into the fabric of the building in such a way that functional reconfiguration of the interior space can be achieved with minimal effort.
The entire outer façade (837 m²) has been constructed using SCHOLLGLAS products and ensures a visually homogeneous exterior shell despite the varying requirements dictated by each installation location. The self-supporting façade at the front of the building is particularly impressive. The concave glass shell seems almost to disappear, allowing views from the inside out and vice versa. It also integrates the solid grid-like façade of the existing structure into the surrounding wood- and parkland. This maximum transparency was achieved using frameless glazing and vertical silicone joints which are only 15 mm wide. The sheets of glass are horizontally layered with only one subdivision across their height, making it possible to achieve panes which are approx. 4.19 m tall and have varying widths up to approx. 2.15 m.
They were manufactured using modern GEWE-therm® heatinsulating glass, of which individual components are combined using a range of glass refining processes. The products used include laminated safety glass and thermally toughened single-pane safety glass which were subjected to heat-soak testing. In addition to this, a highly selective sun protection coating has been used on the south side of the building to prevent overheating. The special coating has a high light transparency of 65 % while only allowing 34 % of the total energy to pass through. This coating combination ensures maximum daylight penetration into the interior of the room while simultaneously keeping heating of the glass façade to a minimum. A screen-printed stripe pattern has also been applied to some of the glass elements, bringing rhythm and structure to the design of the façade.
The demands made on the glazing used for the post and beam façade at the rear of the building are very different. In this case each of the panes, in formats up to 4.41 m in height and 2.10 m width, are mounted on two point fixings concealed inside a horizontal silicone joint. They are held in place by vertical façade connectors. In order to ensure that the Pavilion is energy efficient GEWE-therm® heat-insulating glass from SCHOLLGLAS has been used. The glazing thickness of just 32 mm offers an extremely slim structure which nevertheless provides the required thermal insulation.
The design concept of printed panes with a light grey stripe pattern continues across the post and beam façade and has been expanded to include additional all-over screen printing. This has made it possible to guarantee the privacy of the sanitary facility and technical rooms of the building, which are not visible from the outside, while still including them in the overall glass façade design.
With the fully glazed “Penn Pavilion” Shepley Bulfinch have not only created an eye-catching counterpoint to the surrounding stone buildings but at the same time illustrated the technical and physical construction developments which architecture has undergone since the Gothic Revival era with its small, slim window openings. The Pavilion furthermore expresses the active environmental commitment of the Duke University as regards construction activities and has been awarded LEED Silver certification.
Object Penn Pavilion, Duke University, Durham (North Carolina)/US
Architect Shepley Bulfinch, Boston, Houston, Phoenix/US
Client Duke University, Durham (North Carolina)/US
Façade Roschmann Steel and Glass Constructions Inc., New Haven (CT)/US, made by Roschmann Konstruktionen aus Stahl und Glas GmbH, Gersthofen/DE
Glass GEWE-therm® multi from Schollglas Sachsen GmbH, Nossen, OT Heynitz/DE