Library brought into the 21st century

When the City of Tulsa set out to renovate its 50-year-old central library building, the brief was to modernise the building without losing its period character.

From a glazing perspective, this meant bringing more light into the interior while enhancing the building’s exterior appearance and delivering high levels of efficiency.

The most striking design addition is a series of glazed reading rooms on the second floor of the library, which take the form of protruding glass boxes. As well as creating new areas of well-lit indoor space that can be used all year round, these also let light flood into the whole interior.

The architect’s concept for the structures has been turned into a reality thanks to close collaboration between Pilkington Planar specialist W&W Glass and engineer Modus.

To deliver the frameless cubes, the team specified the Pilkington Planar structural glass system, using glass fins and sidewalls to support the glass roofs without any need for non-transparent structural elements breaking up the views afforded to users.

For the glazed walls, insulating glass units with a low-e coating on surface number three (the outer face of the inner pane of glass) was used. This is topped with a laminated glass roof – also featuring a low-e coating – that makes use of a SentryGlas interlayer in order to deliver excellent structural strength.

The structures are supported by laminated glass, and are connected by Pilkington Planar 905 and 902 series stainless-steel fittings, a low-profile system that minimises interruption to sightlines or distraction from heritage architectural features.

Jeff Haber, managing partner at W&W Glass, said: “From an aesthetic perspective, it’s fair to say the impact of these glass boxes is impressive, tastefully blending modern cubic, transparent elements with the exterior facade and terrace all the while maintaining the historic charm. As well as creating whole new areas of floor space that enjoy views of the library’s beautiful courtyard, the increased glazing also lets natural light deep into the interior of the building while also efficiently helping to maintain a comfortable climate right through the year.

“At the same time, thanks to the minimal visual interruption that the Pilkington Planar system allows, the building retains its fundamental look and feel which has become such an icon for the city.”