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Kimmel Center Solves Terrace Challenges With Electrochromic Glass

                                                                                                                                                      The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia is a city-block-wide collection of performance halls and open spaces enclosed inside a soaring, 150-foot-high, barrel-vaulted glass roof.

The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia is a city-block-wide collection of performance halls and open spaces enclosed inside a soaring, 150-foot-high, barrel-vaulted glass roof. At the Center’s highest elevation sits the Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden Terrace, which offers stunning views of the city and overlooks the entire Kimmel Center complex.
Unfortunately, the barrel-vault roof also created two problems that limited the terrace’s appeal. It made the space too hot to occupy during the day, and it reflected noise from events, interrupting other guests below. To solve these challenges and make the garden terrace altogether more hospitable, the building’s owner turned to BLT Architects — and eventually to SageGlass.

The Solution

The firm explored several options for controlling the heat in the garden terrace, but none provided the right mix of capabilities.
“We initially designed in motorized shades that would be pulled during the hot times of the day because we knew the solar load would be so intense,” said Donna Lisle, an architect on the garden terrace team. "But motorized shades are expensive, often break or won’t close evenly, and you can’t see out through them."
The glazing contractor suggested SageGlass, which is electronically tintable dynamic glass for windows, skylights, and curtain walls that tints or clears on demand or automatically, enabling precise yet flexible control of light, heat gain and glare. At the Kimmel Center, SageGlass helped transform the Hamilton Garden Terrace into an elegant glass and steel structure that does not have the original space’s noise and temperature problems. A new glass enclosure limits event sound propagation, and a 2,100-square-foot rooftop made from SageGlass lets the building’s owners maintain a comfortable temperature for occupants without obstructing the space’s breathtaking views of the city.


Edward Zaucha is CEO of APG International, the glazing contractor who installed all of the glass in the garden terrace roof. Because of the particular issues with the space, Zaucha was very glad to have SageGlass in the product portfolio when his firm crafted its bid.
“With its barrel roof and extraordinary amount of daylight, the Hamilton Garden Terrace presented us with some interesting glazing challenges,” Zaucha said. “For solar control, SageGlass delivered a solution that no other glazing could provide. In this way, SageGlass helped us solve a problem for our customer and at the same time helped us differentiate our business.”
Lisle added that SageGlass helped her firm deliver a “wow factor” that the building owner very much wanted in the new design.
“When the SageGlass skylights fully tint, they create this big defined square of clear cobalt blue that is stunning to view from the plaza below or outside from the street,” Lisle said.
“The building owner also wanted the design to enhance the rental appeal of the terrace as a ‘sky room,’ which was characterized by its connection to the day and night sky and the unique perspective of seeing the cityscape from above. Being able to maintain those views with SageGlass helped us achieve those objectives.”

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