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University of California at San Diego (UCSD) Medical Education and Telemedicine Building Keeps Things Cool with Glass Fin Shading Devices


Cutting-edge technology is the best way to describe the Medical Education and Telemedicine Building on the campus of the University of California-San Diego based in La Jolla. This picturesque facility is situated at the intersection of two major pedestrian routes as the 88,000 square-foot Medical Education and Telemedicine Building serves as a welcoming gateway and meeting place for the School of Medicine campus. The building incorporates a world class, state-of-the-art medical education center with a wide range of academic and practical medical teaching environments. It is capable of responding to projected growth in enrollment and profound changes in the methodologies of medical education.


The goal set forth in constructing the building was to assimilate the technology into the building to replicate the work being done inside. Coming in at a price of $12 million, the building is highly transparent and permeable, with ground floor connections out to the campus in all four directions. At the center, a light filled open-air courtyard is carved out to encourage the medical school community to interact and exchange ideas while enjoying the outdoors. It also works as a pre-function area for the auditorium and is used for daily informal gathering as well as a formal event space. An interconnecting courtyard stair facilitates building access promotes a vibrant sense of community.


University leadership hired Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to lead the architectural design. The plan was designed to maximize controlled day lighting, provide a high degree of transparency, and allow flexible learning spaces. Classrooms and offices are grouped into “learning communities” that promote collaboration between students and faculty. The 359-seat auditorium and large group testing and training rooms are divisible by operable partitions for multiple flexible configurations and diverse learning environments. These double height rooms open to adjacent breakout terraces.


A main feature of the building is a cantilevered glass sunscreen on the west elevation  that provides articulation and shading to the main facade. Working with the installer Tower Glass on the vertical glass shades, W&W Glass designers and engineers opted for a Pilkington Planar™ glass fin system to create the screen. Pilkington Optiwhite® low-iron SentryGlas® Interlayer laminated silk-screened fins with custom 40 percent dot prints in two colors (black and graphite) applied to the #2 surface to satisfy the architect’s intent. The fins were connected back to structure with capped Pilkington 902 series fittings to hold all the glass securely in place. On a bright sunny day, these fins help dissipate the heat and solar glare to increase occupant comfort in addition to creating a dramatic look from the inside and outside.



Sustainable design features on the project include ample daylight, reduced water use, optimized energy performance, and reclaimed and low-emitting materials. Accessed by a sunken light court, the lower level houses the Center for the Future of Surgery, a teaching and research facility for medical students and practicing physicians. In this nationally recognized center, simulated operating rooms, emergency rooms and intensive care units, patient rooms, and labs for high-fidelity medical robots and robotic surgery equipment are organized and fitted out to present a sophisticated, technically advanced environment. Due to all the light, energy saving features and other innovations, the facility easily earned the LEED® Gold Certification. All in all, this facility will serve emerging medical students and faculty for years to come.


UCSD Medical Education and Telemedicine Building - Photo 15


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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