Posted by: Advanced Glazings Ltd. | February 23, 2011

Urban School Harnesses Daylight, Architectual Firm Is Born

100 East End Avenue is home to the exclusive Chapin School in New York City. The School has a history of excellence dating to 1901.  A century later the school had a need to expand and renovate. The Chapin School hired Butler Rogers Baskett Architects to design the expansion and renovation work.

Chapin School Pre Renovation

South East View After Expansion

Chapin Expansion

A key element of the design was the integration of natural daylight into occupied spaces.  Daylighting has become a standard requirement in education facilities given the overwhelming evidence that it has a positive contribution to student test score performance and overall quality of life of its occupants.

The Chapin School had a few more challenges to overcome than the average project. The addition to the school was to be built on top of an existing historic structure in the middle of Manhattan.

When considering a daylighting strategy, orientation is the first and most important consideration. This project had no control over orientation, being both located in an urban environment and being built on top of an existing structure with fixed orientations. Much of the façade is primarily ast facing, and the South facing façade is heavily shaded by larger buildings further south.  This makes daylighting very challenging.

The daylighting goal was to drive as much uniform light deep into the classrooms and occupied spaces without creating solar heat gain, glare, and thermal discomfort. This was even more challenging given the East facing façade, where the sun’s direct beams of light are hard to control in the morning.

Many strategies were considered, but only one viable option was found that met the design requirements. The daylighting and Vision considerations were addressed with the use of vision (clear) glass on the lower 2/3rd of window opening and translucent Solera IGU (insulated glass units)being installed in the  upper 1/3th of  the space.  This configuration of glazings was enhanced with the installation of exterior shading fins used over the vision glass, addressing the sun light when it is high in the sky.  The architectural team worked with the Architectural Daylighting Specialists at Advanced Glazings who performed Radiance (computer ray-trace modeling) daylight simulations to determine the optimal placement, optical characteristics and configuration of the Solera insulated glazings.

The use of Solera (as seen in the Radiance images below) diffuses the light evenly and drives it more deeply into the space.  This proves very effective not only on    southern elevations but especially on the eastern elevations.

10 am Vision Glass

10 am Solera IGU

By placing the Solera above the vision glazing, valuable views were preserved, while abundant glare-free daylight was harvested. The many sustainable features of the building are incorporated into the learning curriculum of the school.

The Chapin School project team at Butler Rogers Basket later formed Marner Architecture and received a special citation from American School & University Architectural Portfolio

“Fantastic juxtaposition of exterior materials while respecting existing building rhythms. The spaces are configured well to maximize daylighting.”—2009 jury

The project also won an outstanding design award for classrooms in the American School & University Educational  Interiors Showcase.

The project’s holistic approach is summarized by Advanced Glazings Architectural Daylighting Specialist, Sam Missimer .    “The careful design of diffused, engineered daylighting for the Chapin School addition captures the combined benefits of demonstrable energy savings with a planned integration of full-spectrum light to science curricula and optimized human learning performance.”


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