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Visual Arts Takes Center Stage with Triple-Glazed Glass Fin Facades


Creativity comes from many places and in a myriad of forms. The one unifying aspect of creativity is that the creator needs to be inspired and is almost always affected by their surrounding environment. That mantra was exactly the goal of the Dartmouth College Black Visual Arts Center located in Hanover, New Hampshire. Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black and his wife Debra contributed $48 million to create a state-of-the-art visual arts center at Dartmouth College. The building’s namesake and benefactor Leon Black graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1973 with a major in philosophy and history and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1975. Debra Black, an avid lover of the arts and accomplished Broadway producer, graduated from Barnard College in 1976. The 105,000-square-foot facility that bears the Black family name houses the departments of Studio Art, Film, and Media Studies, including a Digital Humanities program. This all-inclusive art center hub contains classrooms, exhibition space, a 40-seat screening room, the 243-seat Loew Auditorium, faculty and administrative offices, and a shared digital humanities media laboratory. This center takes full advantage of advanced technology, and its strategic location in Dartmouth’s arts district of campus, to connect the visual arts with the other humanities and science departments in shaping and preparing students to assume their future roles as artists and cultural leaders.



For this project, the educational institution looked to an architecture firm that had a wealth of education and “arts & culture” background selecting Boston-based architects Machado Silvetti. The Machado Silvetti team took a neighborhood-based approach, addressing each distinct set of requirements through strategic adjacencies—placing the print-making classrooms and support spaces together in a back chemistry corridor, and keeping the workshop separate from the digital media labs to reduce sound transfer. Uniting all six areas of departments under the one roof had a significant impact on teaching and the possibility for collaboration between studio art faculty members. Also, being housed in the same building with film, media studies, and digital humanities increased the opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration between students as well.



The architects worked with construction manager Suffolk Construction to construct the building for the college. Natural light and visual transparency was a key to the overall functionality and tone of the building. W&W Glass worked closely with the architect and installers New Hampshire Glass to create a striking and inviting environment. W&W Glass’ design for the Pilkington Planar™ system vertical lantern walls included triple-glazed, Pilkington Optiwhite™ low-iron silk-screened insulating face glass units with HP 70/39 low-e on the number two surface using a custom white silk-screened custom “frit” pattern on the number three surface as well as non-fritted glazed areas. The triple-glazing was desired by the project team to provide the ultimate in energy performance in New Hampshire’s cold climate. Pilkington is one of the few manufacturers in the world that can manufacture triple-glazed, point-supported insulating glass units. All vertical tempered glass fins were Optiwhite low-iron glass as well for high transparency. All point-supported glass panels were fastened to the glass fins with Pilkington Planar™ 905 series countersunk stainless steel fittings.


More than one-fourth of Dartmouth students enroll each year in courses in visual art, film studies, and digital humanities, including theory, criticism, and studio classes. The Black Family Visual Arts Center provides expanded resources for students and faculty alike, including classrooms, faculty offices, an exhibition gallery showcasing student work and a shared digital humanities media laboratory. The center also provides education in photography, architecture, painting, and drawing studios, as well as cutting-edge film production, animation, and editing spaces. 


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 Glass is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area. W&W Glass is located at 302 Airport Executive Park, Nanuet, NY 10954-5285.






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