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Tepper School of Business Shines with Large Structural Glass Atrium

There is no substitute for natural light. It not only relaxes the mind, but the health benefits are widely documented everywhere. However, just putting up sheets of glass in a typical aluminum curtain wall is not the only or best solution for all buildings. W&W Glass has a world-class reputation for coming up with unique designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but energy efficient and functional as well. One example of their excellence in craftsmanship and creativity is the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh, PA.



The Tepper School of Business is the new business school of Carnegie Mellon University. It is located on the quadrangle of the University’s 140-acre campus. The school offers degrees from the undergraduate through doctoral levels, in addition to executive education programs. The Tepper School of Business was originally known as the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA), which was founded in 1949 by William Larimer Mellon. In March 2004, the school received a record $55 million gift from alumnus David Tepper and was renamed the “David A. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon”. The Tepper School of Business is known for its distinguished faculty, its strength in analytics as the birthplace of management science, and for interdisciplinary collaboration within a small school. The new Tepper School of Business crystalizes an exciting new vision for the next phase of evolution of the University and will synthesize the innovation and entrepreneurship of Carnegie Mellon by becoming the focal point for strategic connections and collaborations across the campus.



Just like the minds and work inside it, the large atrium lobby is breathtaking and inspiring. W&W Glass worked with Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners who was selected to design the 295,000 square-foot building. It is the centerpiece of the university’s new north campus located on a 4.5-acre site on Pittsburgh’s Forbes Avenue. The atrium is a constructed from a Pilkington Planar™ vertical atrium glass fin wall and lower glass wall supported on suspended custom, stainless steel blades. Before build out, W&W Glass consulted with the architect and structural engineer on the original design intent, which had two large floor to ceiling vertical steel trusses extending up with horizontal plate beams spanning across and stainless steel vertical sag rods at each vertical joint to suspend the weight. After analyzing the options and costs with the team, the W&W Glass suggested a laminated glass fin wall system to help the design team to value engineer in savings while providing a much more open look in and out of the multi-story atrium spanning almost 66 feet in height overall. The system ended up being designed to split the lower entrance area out from the main wall at 16 feet to reduce the vertical span, in turn reducing the depth and thickness of the tempered glass fins at a 51-foot tall unsupported span. The glass module was also quite large at 10′ wide by 7’5″ tall per panel, which required a heavy half-inch over half-inch insulating glass make-up to limit panel deflection. Check out the footage of installation here. 



The face glass is composed of clear low-e insulating glass units w/ Pilkington 66/33 “ProT” low-e on the #2 surface with heavy-duty bosses in the units to transfer weight through the fittings to the fins. The fin glass is clear SentryGlas® laminated fins mounted on Pilkington Planar™ 905 series heavy duty fittings. The lower wall required splitting the module in half as the span would have been too large at 10 feet x 13 feet insulating glass units. The solution was to reduce down to a 5-foot module and to use a thin, ½ inch x 13 inch tapered stainless steel blade to come down a third of the way at each joint to provide a mid-clip support on the panels at an elevation of 10 foot, while leaving the area below clear and open with no additional fittings below. 



One of the biggest challenges during the installation of the project was to be able to get the tri-chord structural truss at the top pre-loaded to where the dead load of the glass would eventually be put on (while the pre-load would then be released) with the addition of having the skylight above also putting weight on the truss and a large variation in steel tolerance and loading movements at each fin location. It was a great collaborative project with the D-M Products, Inc. project management and installation team to get the layout done and adjusted to know where the final fin locations would reside. The coordination resulted in a solution to preload the tri-chord truss with tensioned cables to simulate the dead load of the system during the installation. 

When it comes to tackling the unique methods and designs needed for educational facilities, W&W Glass has a long list of successful projects for educational facilities. Have a look at their extensive portfolio here.

W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

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