Fire Rated Glass Contributes to Salt Lake City Public Safety Building’s Sustainable and Resilient Design Goals

Police Department Using Fire Rated Glass Railings
Architect: GSBS Architects
General Contractor: Okland Construction
Glazing Contractor: LCG Facades

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building’s Sustainable and Resilient Design Goals Case Study

One of the most exciting new buildings to open its doors this year is the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building Salt Lake City, Utah. This $125 million, 335,000 square foot facility blends sustainability and resiliency under one roof. It is the first U.S. Public Safety Building to achieve both a net-zero rating and LEED Platinum status. More importantly, the building is also designed to survive a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and remain fully functional afterwards. This ensures that the city’s police and fire departments as well as emergency operations center can survive and help the city recover in the event of an earthquake or a similar disaster.

Glazing dominates the exterior façade, allowing for maximum natural light and unobstructed views to the outdoors. To ensure that natural light is able to penetrate further into the building, glazing is also widely used in the interior. In keeping with their design goals for sustainability and resiliency, the architects decided to use fire rated glass and framing to meet fire code requirements.

Fire rated glass contributes to achieving sustainable design goals by maximizing daylight penetration deep within a building where opaque walls were often the norm. Fire rated glass also increases shared artificial lighting between spaces. Both of these strategies can result to reduced electricity use. Transparent, fire rated walls also provide greater visibility between spaces and provides a sense of connection to the outdoors.

As for resilient design, fire rated glass and framing create transparent fire barriers, firewalls, fire partitions, fire doors, protective openings and smoke barriers that form compartments. They are designed to contain, prevent or slow the spread of fire from the room of origin to other parts of the building. By limiting the spread of fire with fire resistive glass and framing, damage to the building is reduced and building occupants gain time for emergency evacuation or movement to areas of refuge. It works 24/7 without the mechanical triggers that sprinklers need, which makes it reliable and virtually maintenance-free. In addition, incorporating clear lines of sight through transparent walls, doors and openings is a significant benefit to first responders. It gives them an opportunity to visually assess the situation before charging in, greatly improving fire and life safety.

For the new Public Safety Building, SAFTI FIRST®’s architectural representative Kevin Turner met with the architect while the project was in the design stage to offer solutions for the fire rated areas. Fire rating was an important consideration because fires are predicted to happen following an earthquake, and since the building is expected to not just survive but to function and deliver emergency services, containing the fire spread is crucial to maintaining operations. The architects also wanted a non-institutional look, so part of their requirements included a decorative element for the fire rated glazed assemblies in order to add aesthetic value to the most secure parts of the building.

SAFTI FIRST® supplied a 27-foot wide fire resistive segmented wall with SuperLite II-XL 60 with a custom designed satin etched stripe pattern in GPX Framing and another 37-foot wide fire resistive segmented wall with SuperLite II-XL 60 with one-way reflective glass in GPX Framing. The GPX Framing, with its clean lines and sharp edges, was supplied with a clear anodized finish to seamlessly match the adjacent non-rated storefront systems. The glass was supplied floor-to-ceiling to maximize vision, daylight and shared artificial lighting as much as possible.
SAFTI FIRST® also supplied two 60 minute door assemblies using SuperLite II-XL 60 in GPX Framing with a clear anodized finish for both the door and the surrounding sidelites and transoms to match the look of the surrounding non-rated storefront and glazed aluminum door systems.

The GPX Doors were also supplied with fire rated hardware in order to meet code requirements. The GPX Door had with a proprietary continuous hinge, a lever set that latches the door in, a closer that enables the door to self-close, an auto door bottom and perimeter seals and gaskets to seal against smoke. In addition, the GPX Doors were also supplied with an electric strike that ties into the card reader to ensure controlled access as these fire rated doors are placed in a secure location.

SAFTI FIRST® was in constant communication with LCG Facades throughout the construction phase to ensure a successful project, where all expectations and requirements were met and that the materials were delivered on time to avoid delays.

So when the new Salt Lake City Public Safety Building finally opened to the public on July 2014, the building team was pleased that the fire rated glass and framing systems that were specified and installed met the sustainable and resilient design goals of the building.