NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration is known for ground breaking innovation and going to places that the average person only dreams about.

So when it came time to design a new flight projects facility at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the design team went beyond to choose materials that would truly exceed imagination. And that is something that comes to be expected with the way NASA operates especially given their motto of “For the Benefit of All.”

Those benefits come through on this building in the way of outstanding usage of glass products. The design architect on this project is one of the world’s most admired companies- AECOM. They quickly identified that glass products are an important part of the energy performance needs and they kept that in mind as they dug into the design.

“We wanted to maximize daylighting and views to the exterior for the inhabitants, while controlling for glare and simultaneously providing a high level of envelope insulating value for the project. With a baseline target of LEED Silver and currently on track to earn LEED Gold, the glazing needed to be an integral part of the overall building materials and systems approach in order to achieve these goals.”

Glass and glazing products play a significant role in areas like daylighting and one of those products- acid-etched glass, offered maximum versatility on this project being used in multiple applications. Taking into account the acid-etched product along with other materials the AECOM design team now had something great to work with. They needed to be cutting edge and innovative without losing a look that was consistent throughout the campus.

“The buildings at Goddard generally have a high degree of regularity, with a rhythm and pattern to the facades.  We wanted to be in harmony with the other buildings on the campus, while providing more natural daylight and transparency to connect the interior program spaces with the natural landscape. Taking cues from the adjacent buildings, we worked with curtain wall and glazing manufacturers to develop a façade pattern for the two primary building wings that combined clear, etched, and spandrel glazing. This pattern was further articulated by setbacks in the glazing plane, vertical fins, and deep horizontal mullion caps in the curtain wall system to provide additional visual interest.  However, these strategies were not just purely aesthetic; they improved the performance of the system by providing a degree of shading while achieving optimal solar performance. “

The design team’s strategy worked. The materials had met the goals.For the manufacturer of the acid-etched glass, they never had any doubts.

“Providing our Walker Textures® Opaque material in several ways and on different thicknesses was exciting for us. We appreciate when a designer can utilize what we do and maximize its effectiveness. On this project, the look and layout were so sharp, and our material was going to play such a major role, so we were confident that our consistent acid-etch finish on both 6mm and 12mm glass was going to be the right choice,” said Marc Deschamps, Business Development Manager, Walker Textures®.

AECOM’s talented crew also realized some of the other properties that the glass product brought beyond the standard options. On the acid-etched glass in particular a past worry about the product was eased and the functionality appreciated.

“As the cleanability of acid-etched glass has improved and the maintenance issues have been eliminated, it has opened up additional uses both on the inside and on the outside of a building. We are able to look at the use of translucent and decorative glass patterns as elements that support the programming and design intent without sacrificing performance.”

In the end this new structure truly does provide benefit for all. With its high performance design and material allowing for maximum occupant comfort and energy efficiency it once again proves that when you are a part of a NASA project, you can always go above and beyond.

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