New Manhattan Apartments Feature Souped-up Daylighting Glass

A New York apartment building is the world's first large residential project to use a combination of glass fiber veils that act as a controlled light diffuser.

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

New York—Now that the daylight hours are increasing, a newly finished apartment building in the city will soon find out exactly how much benefit there is from being the world’s first large residential project to use a combination of glass fiber veils that act as a controlled light diffuser, insulation to eliminate air convection and aerogel to create a daylighting system with the same insulation value as that of a solid wall.

The apartment building, known as TEN23, has 111 units and is located next to Highline Park at 500 West 23rd Street. It opened in January and was designed by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects PC. The owners of TEN23 told the architects that they wanted to design apartments that were filled with natural daylight

To help achieve this goal, Gerner Kronick chose Advanced Glazings Ltd. to daylight the building. Due to the size of the apartments, it was important that as much daylight enter the units as possible. To do this while still complying with the New York building regulations for energy efficiency and sound insulation, the architects used Solera R18 glass units with Lumira-brand aerogel to increase the overall insulation value of the project.

Sometimes called “frozen smoke,” aerogel is a light insulating solid, only on the market since 2003. Lumira aerogel, which is made in Frankfort, Germany, is produced as particles, each one consisting largely of air (more than 90 percent), contained in a structure with pore sizes less than the free path of air molecules, thus severely inhibiting heat transfer through the material.

TEN23 was designed so that 34 percent of all the windows are Solera glass units, which offers a glass insulation resistance value of R-18 and a sound insulation that exceeds outdoor-indoor transmission class (OITC) 36. By contrast, a typical double-glazed window offers a resistance value of R-3 to R-4 and an OITC in the low 20s. According to Gerner Kronick, the results achieved at TEN23 are unprecedented in a glass window of 6mm.

The building’s remaining windows were triple glazed. The combination of the aerogel and triple-glazed windows ensures that the apartments could have floor-to-ceiling windows admitting the maximum amount of light while offering energy efficiency, sound insulation and building code compliance. “The windows diffuse the natural daylight, eliminating hot spots and glare and filling the apartments with soft, museum-quality light,” notes project architect Michael Fontaine of Gerner Kronick.

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