Vitro: Solarban® 70 glass helps UPCycle earn green building award

Sun-filled space merges indoors, outdoors for creative office space in Austin, Texas, USA

Transforming an opaque recycling centre into a hip, daylit-filled creative office space, Gensler chose Vitro Architectural Glass‘ Solarban® 70 glass to glaze large windows, clerestories and skylights for UPCycle in East Austin, Texas, a 2020 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE®) Top Ten Award winner.

Preserving the neighbourhood character of Austin’s vibrant 6th Street corridor, Gensler focused this adaptive reuse project on enhancing the street-level experience with deep, inset porches framed by large operable glass doors. The fenestration, fabricated with Solarban® 70 glass, creates inviting indoor/outdoor residential-style porches on the building’s east façade, while large, covered patios on the north and south further enhance outdoor connections.

“A lot of our interventions involved setbacks to create outdoor porches, which allowed us to have covered and shaded big windows,” said Travis Albrecht, AIA, Gensler Studio Director.

In addition, Gensler created a series of skylights along the building’s east and west sides. Two sets of clerestory windows run through the centre on each side of the inverted metal roof. “The pop-ups down the centre of the building were all about bringing in an abundance of natural light,” Albrecht added.

As the most commonly specified triple-silver-coated glass in the industry, Solarban® 70 glass features a transparent colour-neutral aesthetic and blocks 73 percent of the sun’s heat energy while letting in 64 percent of its visible light. Outdoor views are delivered to 91 percent of UPCycle’s occupant workstations and predicted lighting power density is just 0.27 watt-per-square-foot (w/sf).

The colourful spacious common areas foster flexibility, openness and collaboration among the facility’s creative hi-tech tenants. In a post-occupancy survey, building occupants overwhelmingly reported the amount of natural light and views from within the space are their favourite aspects of the building.