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Duo-Gard Translucent Walls

The architect’s design of a new bus maintenance facility for Waterbury CT called for the integration of two very different panels to create a façade with high natural light, security and energy efficiency. The resulting façade for the 180,000-square-foot building integrates translucent daylighting panels by Duo-Gard with metal insulating panels by Kingspan.

“This is the first time we’ve integrated these two types of panels,” says Sean Beachy, AIA NCARB, who led the design team for Wendel Companies in Alexandria VA. “Everybody’s pleased with the result, including the design team and the owners.”

Engineering this application also marked a first for Duo-Gard, according to Frank Kosciolek,Duo-Gard Translucent Walls
operations manager for the architectural services division: “This showcases Duo-Gard’s custom capabilities and opened our eyes to new possibilities.”

All four facades feature the integrated panels, each 36 inches wide by 23 feet high. Façade lengths range from 249 feet to the maximum 570 feet on the West elevation. Beachy wanted the facility to have a dynamic appearance on the West side along the scenic rail line and Route 8, which is elevated above the facility. The East façade was intended to blend with the surrounding mountains and river.

Duo-Gard panels of 40mm translucent, multiwall polycarbonate in an opal tint are framed in a Kynar-coated charcoal. Combined with the light gray Kingspan metal panels, this creates a vertical ribbon aesthetic. Rather than rigidly alternating both panels, the design strategically spaces Duo-Gard’s daylighting panels for maximum interior effect, based on Beachy’s lighting studies.

The application called for Duo-Gard’s Series 3500, which uses a base plate, pressure plate and cap; however, it uses a 2 ½” profile. The Kingspan panels required a 3” profile. Using its 3-D printer technology, Duo-Gard engineered eight new 3” profiles to achieve the integration. “This involved a lot of collaboration,” says Kosciolek.

He adds that the 3-D printing technology facilitates fast prototyping with no tooling investment and allows for inexpensive R & D.

“In addition to the security, insulation and natural light we wanted, this integration is very cost effective compared with glass,” Beachy says.

“This type of integration involving daylighting and insulation is becoming paramount today in this industry, yet many companies avoid the complexities,” says Kosciolek. “Being willing to push existing boundaries for the architectural and design community is one of Duo-Gard’s strengths.”

The Wendel team continues to integrate the use of the translucent panels and insulated panels. “We like the Duo-Gard product, and we continue to integrate the translucent panels on new projects,” states Beachy.

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