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Westhampton Free Library

Project Information

Historic, Hurricane-Resistant, Green Library Relies on Ultra Series

New York's Westhampton Free Library combines historic aesthetics and hurricane performance, while seeking Gold-level certification under the LEED® Green Building Rating System. Kolbe's high-performance windows and a collaborative building team helped achieve the project's multiple objectives.

Located within a mile of the Atlantic Ocean, this community landmark has resided on Library Avenue for more than 100 years. Opened in June 2010, the new library sits on the site of two previous buildings that were demolished in September 2008. One of the buildings had been an abandoned hardware store, reconfigured for library activities. The other had been expanded five times throughout its existence. These disconnected, aging structures could no longer support the requirements of a modern library.

Public meetings were held to ensure that the new facility met the community's needs now and in the future. Sandpebble Builders Inc.'s Dan Kowalski, LEED-AP, explains, "Known as ‘dynamic design charrettes,' these meetings included library board members, users and staff, plus politicians, community leaders and other stakeholders. They were asked what they liked about the old building, and what they wanted to see in a new building."

Kowalski recalls that charrette participants clearly "said that they wanted to stay on Library Avenue, which is a very small parcel of land; that they liked the look of the old building; and that reading spaces with natural light and fresh air were important to them."

Armed with this and other feedback, the Project Architect, Ward Associates, P.C., designed a classic Colonial Revival building with innovative functionality and modern performance. The new 14,250-square-foot structure replicates the original, one-story, wood-framed library, while providing twice the square footage, adding an outdoor reading garden and accommodating future expansion.

Ward's associate, Pansy Cheng, RA, LEED-AP, elaborates, "To create a new library building that accurately represents the original library and blends in within its neighbors, we incorporated the period architectural elements such as a U-shaped floor plan, symmetrical façades, multi-pane windows with shutters and fiber-cement shingle siding."

She continues, "The windows on Westhampton Free Library must protect the building from hurricanes, resist salt spray and corrosion, provide high insulation value, and provide occupants with exterior views and daylighting, all while doing so attractively and true to the historical, colonial character of the original library building built in 1906."

To meet this tall order, Ward Associates, P.C., selected Kolbe's Ultra Series extruded aluminum clad windows with K-Force® Impact performance, for their strength, durability and custom capabilities. The extruded aluminum billet of the windows' exteriors consists of 50-75% recycled content, which helps the building qualify for LEED Gold certification. Extending the products' longevity and ease-of-maintenance, the aluminum is finished in a fluoropolymer paint that carries a warranty, which includes salt spray and other environmental conditions.

On the library's interior, ensuring the windows maximized daylighting was of high importance. The architect chose 8-foot-high, oversized windows mimicking traditional, cottage-style, double-hung windows to overlook the 1,800-square-foot reading garden on the south side of the library. According to Cheng, "The high visual transmittance value of the windows provides 73% of all regularly occupied spaces with daylighting. More than 90% of occupants have direct views of the outdoors."

The garden area's south-facing windows were crafted by factory-mulling together a 72-inch fixed casement with a 24-inch operable awning transom with steel reinforcements. A number of 8x8-foot openings on the front of the building required the windows to be mulled on site. "It was a team effort to find the proper combination of products to match the project's needs," says Geoff Penny of Marjam Supply Company, the local Kolbe dealer.

"Kolbe's windows are similar in style to the windows at our previous location, but of course, have so much more going for them in performance," adds Matthew Bollerman, director of the Westhampton Free Library.

Kolbe's windows were crafted in rectangular and half-circle casements, awnings and elliptical radius window units. Performance Divided Lites (PDLs) with 7/8-inch ovolo muntin bars were specified to simulate the historic style of true divided lites. Special muntin bar patterns also were created for the radius, "eyebrow" windows. Cheng says some of these eyebrow windows are up to 10-feet-wide and "provide traditional detail to the building façade."

Other architectural details include the built-in window seats incorporated into the highly-insulated, 16-inch-thick walls and the three "roof monitors" composed using Kolbe's Ultra Series fixed casements to transmit natural daylight. "In lieu of skylights, we used traditional windows perched at the roofline to create light shafts in the children's reading area on the second floor," says Kowalski. "To help manage the thermal heat gain, we used smaller windows on the South side and larger windows on the North."

Cheng agrees, saying it creates "a bright and cheerful learning environment, while reducing energy consumption." In addition, she says, "The high energy performance of the windows helps the new library to reduce energy costs by 35% below the ASHRAE 90.1 baseline building model."

Ten percent of the building's electrical power comes from renewable energy and energy is used efficiently throughout the building. Specially formulated to block 83% of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays and 96% of the sun's infrared heat, Kolbe's Ultra Series K-Force Impact products feature laminated insulated units with LoE²-270 glass.

"The highly-efficient windows provide good light transmission, thermal and moisture control and are operable for natural ventilation," Kowalski emphasizes. "These large windows are hurricane-rated due to the library's proximity to the coast."

Cheng describes the hurricane impact resistant qualities: "These three-pane windows – insulated glass on the outside, backed with a shatter-resistant polymer core – withstand repeated blows from an 8-foot-long, 2x4 stud shot from a cannon at 50 feet per second to simulate flying debris. Concealed stainless steel hinges and brackets provide hurricane resistance without sacrificing the historical aesthetics of the windows."

The library's design and building team also were pleased that Kolbe windows' laminated lites not only help to withstand high winds and flying debris, and to optimize energy efficiency, but also help to block street noise from the library interior. Many of the library's high-performance, resource-conserving features are quietly invisible to visitors. As examples, the displacement ventilation system is hidden within a raised floor system; the geothermal heat pumps are located out-of-sight, below ground; and the photovoltaic panels are veiled by the roofline.

The false mansard roof also hides the second floor from the street-view, "giving the illusion of an old, traditional one-story structure without appearing out of scale within its surroundings," says Cheng. "By combining classical proportion and scale with energy-efficient systems and ecological construction, Kolbe & Kolbe is able to accurately replicate the past, while embracing the future for Westhampton Free Library."

"Everyone is very happy with the windows and the community is happy with the building," Kowalski concludes. "It is the most thermally-efficient, well-designed building with which I've been involved."

As the library's director, Bollerman offers additional praise: "Patrons have loved the new building since we opened. They are pleased with how bright and welcoming the spaces are."

Related Whitepaper: Windows & Doors' Contribution to Educational Excellence

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