MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Vermont’s St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is using 21st-century glass technology in its historic 19th-century art gallery to protect its prized collections and furnishings, while improving the building’s energy efficiency.
For nearly 140 years, the Art Gallery at St. Johnsbury Athenaeum has been illuminated by Victorian-style skylights that crown this elegant French Second Empire style building. But when a recent architectural analysis revealed that the skylights were deteriorated beyond repair, the Athenaeum saw an opportunity to better control the sun’s harmful UV rays that pour through the skylights.
Project architect John Mesick of Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects, LLC recreated the skylight framework with a SageGlass triple-pane glazing system. SageGlass is electronically controlled dynamic glass that tints and untints on demand to let optimal sun shine through while preventing fading, glare and heat gain. The new SageGlass-enabled framework replicates the design and dimensions of the four Victorian-style skylights, incorporating a layer of textured glass that matches the existing historic glass.
Solar control was critical as this National Historic Landmark is home to more than 120 paintings, sculptures and other fine works of American and European artists. Paintings by the Hudson River School artists, in particular, are on display, including one of the country’s most famous paintings: Albert Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite. Visitors are awe-struck by how the natural light provided by the skylights enhances the viewing experience of this massive, 10 X 15 foot masterpiece.
“It’s the oldest art gallery still in its original form in the US. Consequently, it was critical that the skylight project preserve the unique and authentic atmosphere that people experience when they visit,” said Mesick. “SageGlass allowed us to block the UV rays without blocking the natural light. Using traditional glass with mechanical shades or other sun controls would have severely compromised the esthetic appeal of the gallery.”
SageGlass blocks up to 98% of the total solar radiation that would cause fading and other harmful effects to the collections and furnishings. It also helped the Athenaeum achieve its sustainability goals for the building. In a study by Paladino and Company, SageGlass triple-pane glazing achieves superior results over other glazing solutions, demonstrating lower electricity costs, lower HVAC requirements and a smaller carbon footprint. With a very low U-factor, SageGlass helps reduce energy consumption by more than 50% over single-pane glazings and 15% when compared to state-of-the-art static triple-pane glazings.
SageGlass lets optimal natural light flow into the Athenaeum without the unwanted heat gain of conventional glass in warm seasons, and the triple-glazing provides excellent thermal efficiency against Vermont’s winter weather. The SageGlass triple-pane glazing system also addresses the concerns of condensation on the glass and humidity levels in the gallery.
"The Athenaeum was built by individuals in the nineteenth century who embraced and promoted innovative technologies and design," states Matthew Powers, the Athenaeum's Executive Director. "Today, we continue this tradition with the application of SageGlass in our Art Gallery. SageGlass will provide energy savings, protect our important collection from harmful UV solar radiation and enhance our visitor experience."
SageGlass passed a thorough evaluation by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation to ensure that the glazing technology would not adversely affect the Athenaeum’s historic resources. The state agency also provided funding for the skylight restoration project.
“To find energy-efficient solutions while maintaining historic preservation standards is challenging, so we were pleased to find that by installing the new glass system both the energy efficiency at the Athenaeum will be improved and its treasured collection protected from the damaging effects of solar radiation,” said Judith Williams Ehrlich, Director of Operations for the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation.
About St. Johnsbury Athenaeum:
Founded in 1871 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1998, St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is a private, non-profit public library and art gallery that serves to promote life-long learning through art, literature, and information services. The Art Gallery features over 120 paintings, sculptures, and other fine works highlighting the American landscape, classical studies, and reproductions of Renaissance and Baroque masterworks. Many paintings by the Hudson River School artists are on display including Jasper Cropsey, Asher B. Durand, Sanford Gifford, and Worthington Whittredge. The most prominent painting in the Gallery is Albert Bierstadt’s mammoth 10 x 15 foot masterpiece Domes of the Yosemite, one of the most famous paintings in America. The Athenaeum strives to be a 21st-century library and stands as one of Vermont’s enduring landmarks. It is the Northeast Kingdom’s center of art and culture. The Athenaeum is the only arts-based National Historic Landmark in Vermont. Each year, the Athenaeum welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world. Offering poetry readings, internet access, book discussions, musical and artistic performances and presentations and community outreach programs, the Athenaeum continues to fulfill the original mission created by founder Horace Fairbanks. Fairbanks, whose family invented the platform scale, was an industrialist, philanthropist, and later governor of the state.
About SAGE Electrochromics, Inc.
SAGE Electrochromics is the world’s leading manufacturer of dynamic window glass that can be tinted or untinted to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass controls the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. SageGlass can reduce a building’s colling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is also a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. The company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., in the heart of the “Silicon Valley of the window industry.” SAGE is strategically partnered with the Saint-Gobain company of Paris, France, the global leader in glass and building products.
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