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Saint Barnabus Medical Center Changes the Narrative with a Welcoming Structural Glass Entrance

Few expansion or renovation projects are as complicated as those at existing medical facilities and hospitals. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of things that need to be considered. Renovations or expansions can be even more challenging than new construction because shutting down a 24/7 hospital during construction is not an option. Take Saint Barnabas Medical Center for example, which recently opened the $200 million Cooperman Family Pavilion in Livingston, N.J. The five-story, 240,000-square-foot west wing expansion includes 114 private rooms, an outpatient surgery suite, public atrium, parking, and a neonatal intensive care unit. The facility is designed for a future one-story overbuild expansion.


On developments this large, the owner RWJ/Barnabus Health knew they needed an experienced team to ensure they received the quality they desired without sacrificing efficiencies or having a prolonged construction time frame. They selected Francis Cauffman Architects as the design architect and architect of record to work with the construction management team from Wm. Blanchard Company for this endeavor. The reason for the expansion was to establish a comprehensive response to its growing maternity needs in the region. The expansion introduces a wide range of diagnostic and treatment spaces and provides 100 percent private room availability for patients. The specialized obstetrics center manages complex pregnancies and post-birth care, which is not common in a community hospital. The new building is connected through a walkway joining the maternity ward in the existing wing of the hospital to the neonatal intensive care unit in the expansion wing.


The overall design plan called for breaking the mold of a stereotypical institutional setting. The focus was set on bringing in ample sunlight and organic, curving structural features to ease visitors into their experience of the building, in contrast to the institutional, claustrophobic nature of many hospital waiting spaces. Since the team quickly realized the entry and atrium design required a heavy structural glass presence, they chose W&W Glass to work with them on the design to help them achieve their aspirations while maintaining budget considerations. The W&W team helped the architect engineer and detail the Pilkington Planar™ point-supported glass system, which would later be installed by the facade subcontractor Boss Glass Company based in Dover, NJ.

The lobby’s glass construction draws the eye into the facility and creates a welcoming, comfortable space for patients and visitors. W&W Glass was an excellent choice to help create this area due to their extensive experience in creating custom structural glass enclosure solutions for medical and hospital facilities across the country. W&W Glass was primarily assigned to set the tone of the entrance and lobby areas so they utilized high-quality, Pilkington Planar™ Optiwhite low-iron, low-e insulating units with 66/33 ProT Low-e on the #2 surface for the face glass units on the vertical walls. The lobby walls were supported by 19mm Optiwhite low-iron monolithic tempered and heat soaked glass fins. All vertical wall panels were supported and secured with ultra-reliable, Pilkington Planar™ 905 series fittings. The transparent two-story, sweeping radiused lobby is the focal point of the building, from both inside and outside.


In addition, the new lobby seamlessly connects the existing facilities with the new addition, helping visitors orient themselves. A two-story focal wall with natural imagery takes full advantage of the lobby’s height. A balcony on the second floor offers an alternative, more intimate seating area for sensitive conversations. The tone of the finishes established by the lobby will carry through the interior building design – themes repeat within clinical spaces, creating a unified aesthetic that explicitly ties the caregiving process to the social context in which it exists. This design also coheres with the Medical Center’s existing structures, referencing shape and material patterns in order to better blend into the overall character of the campus. The proposed design updates the St. Barnabas brand and creates a natural transition between the new wing and the old.


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The glass fin lobby transitions to a glass on vertical steel blade system at the entrance area and continues up four stories to form atriums at each level. The blades were very narrow and shallow to limit intrusion into the entrance vestibule and atrium spaces. There were some specific challenges in these details to accommodate fire safing at floor slabs around the steel blades and vertical movements at each floor slab while maintaining a homogeneous look with the face glass. Another challenge with structural glass system was where the glass fins meet the custom fabricated portal “eyebrow”. There had to be special tall notches fabricated into the fins to be able to continue the line of support for the face glass while not putting additional load on the thin header coming across.  At another transition the glass fins continue above the portal area to a roof (while the steel blades continue below the “eyebrow”), but move under a horizontal metal panel feature/slab requiring W&W and Boss to develop some complicated waterproofing and closure perimeter details. All in all, the process to solve these challenges was collaborative in nature with all parties to achieve a fantastic result.


Courtesy of Francis Cauffman Architects

St. Barnabas Medical Center’s west wing also includes a new 141,000-square-foot parking structure with expanded metal panels. The metal panels provided a functional, modern solution that fit with the rest of the hospital campus. With this large expansion the campus is now poised to continue to service the community with top-notch care, additional maternity patient facilities,  and new technology for years to come.


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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