Georgia Gwinnett College Library and Learning Center
Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Glazing Contractor:
Glass Systems, Inc.
Lithonia, Georgia, USA

General Contractor:
The Potts Company
Conyers, Georgia, USA

Kawneer Products:
1600 Wall System®1
1600 Wall System®2
Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®)
451T Framing
Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®)
450 Framing
350 Medium Stile Doors
Custom 1600 SunShade®

Nestled in the lush green campus of Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) in Lawrenceville, is the new state-of-the-art Library and Learning Center designed to serve as the intellectual center of the 8,000-student campus. To meet the social and academic needs of the large community as well as allow for campus-wide growth and success, the building was constructed using several Kawneer products to integrate the daylight needed for a studious environment within a physical structure that effectively shields the library’s delicate contents from environmental factors.

The Atlanta office of architecture, planning, engineering, interior design and program management firm, LEO A DALY, was selected to design a space that brought the feeling of being outside directly into the building. In a February press release, Jerry Voith, vice president and managing principal of LEO A DALY Atlanta said, “Both the college and our project team wanted to build a library that not only had world-class facilities, but also was committed to its sustainable responsibilities.”

The result was a 95,000-square-foot, technologically advanced knowledge center with highly adaptable learning spaces, expansive views of the surrounding campus and the capacity to house over 300,000 volumes. When Georgia Gwinnett College was established in 2005, the University System of Georgia (USG) envisioned it as a “campus of tomorrow” that would be innovative as well as efficient. Because the school did not want a typical academic library, the facility incorporated individual and group study spaces, reading rooms and classrooms as well as a café and general multipurpose room, which can be used by campus organizations for meetings or events.

Lithonia, Georgia-based Glass Systems, Inc. was selected as the project’s glazing contractor and worked closely with Kawneer and LEO A DALY to ensure that the large curtain walls coordinated seamlessly with the other structural metal panels and brick.

“Everyone working on the project was challenged with an aggressive schedule,” said Frank McCoy, project manager and President of Glass Systems, Inc. “It was important to have products that wouldn’t add to installation time or require sacrificing aesthetics. By the end of the process, it was refreshing to not only complete the project on time but also with a beautiful result.”

The main focal point for the building is a 42-foot tall curtain wall on the north side of the library. The large wall covers the main atrium, providing views to and from the campus green, outdoor amphitheater and campus pathways, and holds the Research Commons as well as many of the main book stacks. Both Kawneer’s 1600 Wall System®1 and 1600 Wall System®2 Curtain Walls were used in the space to increase daylight and enhance transparency. Both 1600 Wall System®1 and 1600 Wall System®2 set the standards for curtain wall engineering. Ideal for low- to mid-rise applications, the curtain wall systems provide reliability with versatile features.

The library has a great deal of transparency.  “You can stand 800 yards away and see people inside the library pulling books,” said Mark Buser, project manager with Conyers, Georgia-based general contractors, The Potts Company.

In addition to the curtain wall, the library has an exterior skin of cold-formed metal framing, sheathing, waterproofing membrane, brick, storefront framing and metal panels. The waterproofing membrane allows the building to be watertight, so that it functions aesthetically and practically, keeping students dry and insulated as the climate changes. Kawneer’s Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451T framing system provided enhanced thermal performance and a range of design options, while the Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 450 framing system, used at the interior, offered increased visibility throughout the library. And, to withstand heavy traffic flow, Kawneer’s 350 Medium Stile Entrances were utilized.

“To ensure that the building was watertight, Williamson & Associates were brought in as a third party water intrusion consultant to work alongside Potts' water intrusion experts,” said Buser. “Kawneer lent their engineering expertise not only to Williamson & Associates but also to help with the construction of the curved wall, ensuring that the curve worked in relation to the rest of the building.”

Environmental stewardship was another key goal throughout the design and construction of the library. In addition to incorporating curtain walls for daylight, custom 36-inch deep 1600 SunShades® from Kawneer were utilized to shade the building’s interiors and conserve energy. The sunshades easily integrate into the 1600 Wall System®1 and create savings in fabrication and attachment time.

The GGC Library was designed according to U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®*) green building principles and has achieved LEED Gold Certification, making it one of only seven academic libraries in the nation to do so. Mike Iezzi, senior project manager with The Potts Company noted that to help achieve its environmental goals the GGC library used more than 20 percent recycled products and just as many regional products, thereby reducing waste and transportation emissions.

“A library is a space with so much potential,” said Brad Sinclair, sales representative with Kawneer North America. “It is important to student success, can spark academic curiosity, and can allow the students, staff and faculty alike to feel like they are part of a community. With this library, I believe we’ve created a beautiful space that has the potential go beyond the functions of an everyday library and become the life-source of this campus.”

*LEED is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council.

© Creative Services Photography / Rion Rizzo