William R. Murchie Science Building, Flint, Mich.
ARCHITECT: HED Design
GLAZIER: Glasco Corp.
Keeping pace with increased STEM enrollment, the University of Michigan-Flint recently expanded the William R. Murchie Science Building. Beyond adding 70,000 new square feet to the building, the renovation focused on creating a facility with almost no visual barriers to encourage departmental collaboration and the visibility of STEM work.
To accomplish these goals, the building’s open stairwell and floor design were meant to facilitate idea-sharing and to display scientific innovations taking place in real time. However, because of the size of the combined levels, fire- and life-safety codes required a fire-rated barrier between floors
to inhibit the spread of smoke and flames. To meet these codes and provide visual connection, the school and architects turned to Technical Glass Products’ Fireframes Clearview System with Pilkington Pyrostop fire-rated glass, Fireframes Aluminum Series perimeter frames and full-lite Fireframes Designer Series fire-rated doors.
Because of the narrow perimeter frame and nearly colorless transitions between adjoining pieces of 60-minute fire-rated glass, TGP’s Fireframes Clearview System with Pilkington Pyrostop fire-rated glass allows the assembly to all but disappear without compromising its level of protection. The floor-to-ceiling butt-glazed assemblies run for more than 30 feet and turn multiple corners. “With such long runs, these systems look great. They show multiple floors and provide a substantial visual connection between what the students are learning and how it can be applied,” says Jeremy Raymond, Glasco’s senior project manager.
Although the ability to provide a cohesive color scheme across assemblies and neighboring architectural features may seem small compared to preserving design intent and providing a fire-resistant barrier, it still is an important detail. The ability to match the handrails’ color helped keep the focus on the openness created by the large lites of fire-rated glass.
FIRE-RATED GLASS AND DOORS: Technical Glass Products
PHOTOS: Tom Harris Photography, courtesy Technical Glass Products