Glass Curtain Wall Lets Light In and Keeps Fire Out

Exterior fire rated glass
Prairie Hills Junior High School
Markham, IL
Architect: Arcon Associates, Lombard, Ill.
General Contractor: Nicholas & Associates Inc., Mount Prospect, Ill.
Glazing Contractor: Rock Valley Glass, Cherry Valley, Ill.
Products Used: SuperLite II-XL 120 IGU in GPX Curtain Wall Framing

120-Minute Exterior Fire Resistive Curtain Wall Case Study

Case Study. Glass curtain wall lets light in and keeps fire out at Prairie Hills Junior High School in Markham Illinois. SAFTI FIRST® supplied SuperLite II-XL 120 IGU in GPX Curtain Wall Framing for portions of the south facing elevation.

New school’s south-facing elevation features a glazed aluminum curtain wall that incorporates PPG Solarblue and PPG Solarban 60 glazing.

Today, more and more design firms are incorporating glazing in their designs – particularly in the building envelope – to maximize the amount of natural light penetrating the building while creating a connection to the outdoor environment. Such was the case for Prairie Hills Junior High School in Markham, Illinois, a brand new 200,000 sf modern building designed to accommodate the district’s 1,200 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

The building’s south-facing elevation features a glazed aluminum curtain wall that incorporates PPG Solarblue and PPG Solarban 60 glazing. While this particular situation didn’t need to meet property line requirements, part of the curtain wall had to meet a two-hour rating because it was adjacent to a two-hour block wall through the building’s interior. In order to keep the original design and meet the fire rating requirements, the architect specified a two-hour fire rated curtain wall that met ASTM E-119/NFPA 251/UL263 requirements.

As the fire rated glass and framing manufacturer specified for this project, SAFTI FIRST® supplied SuperLite II-XL 120 IGU in GPX Curtain Wall Framing. This unique system performs as a fire barrier while still being part of the building’s exterior skin. It provides protection in the event of a fire while enhancing the building’s overall aesthetics and performance. Since the GPX Curtain Wall Framing system is thermally broken, it is a natural selection for exterior fire resistive applications in places that experience extreme weather, such as the Midwest.

To match the look of the non-rated glass units used in the exterior, the SuperLite II-XL 120 fire resistive glazing was insulated with PPG Solarblue for the outdoor lite and PPG Solarban 60 for the indoor lite. The GPX Curtain Wall Framing System offers the same hard-edged sightlines of extruded aluminum provided by popular non-rated systems. With the aluminum covers supplied with a clear anodized finish similar to the non-rated systems, the GPX Curtain Wall Framing System blended perfectly, giving designers the uniform, seamless look that they desired.

In addition to meeting ASTM E-119/NFPA 251/UL263 for two-hour, the GPX Curtain Wall Framing System was also tested for air and water infiltration and thermal movements. SAFTI FIRST® also supplied structural calculations for wind load and seismic load, specifically stamped by an engineering firm from the state of Illinois.

Prairie Hills Junior High School opened its doors in August 2012. It is the first school in the country to receive Green Globe Certification from the Green Building Initiative and is currently awaiting LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.