Posted by: Advanced Glazings Ltd. | February 1, 2010

Daylighting with Form, Function and Budget

By Marie-Claire Veloso & Avi Bar

Who said that both form and function cannot be accomplished on a tight budget?  The Centre E&P Senechal Center in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, achieved exactly that.  The vision to replace an existing arena was not only to build a multifunctional infrastructure but also to boost the socio-economic development of this small community bordering Maine, U.S.A; “We did not want to replace an arena by an arena, but rather we wanted to have a building that could be used by all ages,” says Dr. Paul Castonguay, the head of the building committee.  They wanted to build a twin ice arena for $8 million but after a few years into the project, it quickly became apparent that this would not be possible.  Instead, they chose to build to today’s quality standards and incorporated one ice rink, a walking track, a convention center and an exercise gym.” The challenge was to find a balance between form, function and budget.

Murdock & Boyd Architects worked together with the town of Grand Falls to achieve a beautiful functional green building, “a strong gesture,” a real showcase. “Our construction committee visited 18 facilities in the Maritime Provinces and Quebec to shape what could be our future complex.  One of the facilities that we visited was the Port Hawkesbury Center.  We were amazed by the daylight in the building and it then became one of our priorities,” explains Dr. Paul Castonguay. Monica Adair, the project architect from Murdock and Boyd says, “The aim was to create a modern-inspired, contemporary building that would rival buildings often only found in larger cities.”

There is a resurgence in acknowledgment that daylighting is a critical component of architecture. Contemporary architecture embraces the use of glass both for its aesthetics and its promise of views and daylighting. According to Monica Adair, they wanted to create a daylighted space where the people indoors could “be connected to the outdoors while playing sports” but this can be quite a challenge when housing an ice rink.

While windows can provide views; they often introduce daylighting challenges such as poor light distribution, solar heat gain and glare. To make matters worse, in the context of an ice arena the direct sunbeams could lead to melting ice and discomfort to occupants.

There are many daylighting techniques out there but they do not all address the thermal envelope of the building and they are not always appropriate for the design.  The next step was to find a balance between views and daylighting and to make a decision between how much view they wanted and how much daylighting they needed.

Solera T (R5) was considered for the project for its daylight diffusing properties and thermal insulation.  The Solera translucent glazing units were placed at the level of the walking track which surrounds the rink and also around the fitness gym which opens onto the arena.  They wanted to keep their views which they did by making a pattern between Solera and the vision glass with Solera along the eastern side and up to the north side of the building. This glass band was critical from the very beginning of the concept design. The project Architect, Monica Adair says the “Long band became the language of the building; they liked the silhouettes behind the Solera that kept the centre looking animated.”

To have a beautiful building that functions well can be very expensive but Solera is affordable and there can be no better value in terms of aesthetics and performance. Murdock & Boyd were motivated by Advanced Glazings’ complimentary daylighting analysis.  The radiance study and simulations identified the potential pitfalls of using clear glass. It also assisted in fine tuning the appropriate visual light transmittance so that the space had optimal balance between light and diffusion.  “Advanced Glazings proved to be more than just a product manufacturer but also a daylighting design partner.  All we had to do was define our daylighting goals and submit our existing drawings to them. They provided us with a daylighting study and recommendations. Instead of simply providing numeric light readings, the radiance study allowed us to visually appreciate the effects of Solera on light distribution in some of our spaces,” says Monica.

The Centre E&P Senechal Center proves that when it comes to daylighting, you can achieve both form and function on a budget with Solera. The building is unique because of the reduced energy costs which they have achieved by improving thermal performance.  The lights can be run at 50% or 100% in order to use the energy saving benefits of Solera. In fact, according to Monica, “once Solera was in place, the use of lights were significantly reduced during construction.”

Clear Glass – March 21st at 12:00p.m.              Solera – March 21st at 12:00p.m.

Since Solera is glass, the architect was able to pick the type of glass that suited the aesthetics and budget of the building, as well as address any building code requirements for safety. “Since opening day our facility has been used above our expectations … the most common comment of the visitors is the natural light in the building, Says Dr. Paul Castonguay, “We have a walking track that is used all day.  We have older folks coming at 8h00 in the morning to have a walk away from the inclement weather and still enjoying daylight.  When we go back to other facilities that we visited in preparation for our project that do not have daylight, we are so glad that we went with daylighting; it puts us in a class apart.  That is the general comment that we hear from people using our facility.”  It is a very bright arena Paul says, “Inside the building during the day is awesome, we do not feel cramped-up, it has an open feeling.” Solera also creates a beautiful glow at night.  “From the outside the look is tremendous at night the way the lighting was setup along the walking track to illuminate the glazed windows, the look of the building from the Trans Canada Highway is unbelievable,” says Dr. Paul Castonguay, “We are extremely proud of our building and the daylight aspect of it sets it apart.”

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