Frontier Project:  Owner - Cucamonga Valley Water District

Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA


HMC Architects

Ontario, California, USA

Glazing Contractor:

Carmel Architectural Sales

Anaheim, California, USA

Kawneer Products:

1600 Wall System®1 curtain wall

TriFab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451T framing

8225TL IsoLock® Windows

190 Narrow Stile Entrances

350 Medium Stile Entrances

350 Medium Stile Auto Show Room Doors

1010 Sliding Mall Fronts (with custom sill track)

Designed as an enterprise to utilize and display new sustainable technology, the Frontier Project’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified building spared nothing in form to achieve its overall function. Located in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., the 14,000-square-foot facility serves as a civic and commercial education space for water, energy and site conservation methods and technologies.

The Frontier Project Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the environmental challenges in Southern California. Created by the Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD), the Frontier project enables the CVWD to provide a resource to the community for conservation-based knowledge and solutions. To help facilitate funding and design efforts for the new educational facility, the Frontier Project Foundation was formed. Along with local and national partners, the Foundation developed building design ideas and solicited capital. The foundation selected Ontario, Calif.-based architecture firm, HMC Architects, whom they had worked with in the past to design their operations facility.

The first consideration for the Foundation and HMC was that a building whose purpose is to demonstrate sustainable construction practices must effectively employ them. Todd Corbin, Assistant General Manager for Cucamonga Valley Water District and Project Manager for the Frontier Project, said there were some unusual challenges in this goal.

“The Project was constantly evolving, so it was difficult to place boundaries on which technology to include,” Corbin stated. “In the end we decided on the outside building envelope and began construction. We knew that indoor aspects would adapt to new ideas closer to our opening date.”

HMC drove the product specification, looking for manufacturers and products that could address the project’s sustainable needs and help meet LEED certification requirements. One of three companies specified in the original plans, Kawneer was selected to not only provide products for the interior and exterior of the building, but also to share its engineering and architecture expertise to accomplish the intricate and complex building design. Carmel Architectural Sales, located in Anaheim, Calif., was selected as the project’s glazing contractor.

“The goal was to take visitors on a journey of experiential learning from the time they enter the site,” said Pasqual Gutierrez, project architect from HMC Architects. “We really stretched our imaginations and put all conventions aside to reach a free-flowing place of thinking and inspiration.”

“The goal was to take visitors on a journey of experiential learning from the time they enter the site,” said Gutierrez. “We really stretched our imaginations and put all conventions aside to reach a free-flowing place of thinking and inspiration.”

A key element of the building design, and primary challenge for the project team, was the C-shape of the building. To create the “C” of the building, Kawneer produced a custom version of its 1600 Wall System®1 curtain wall. The curtain wall began at a slope of 14 degrees and halfway around the building length transitions to a perpendicular 0-degree slope towards the roof.

“There was tremendous collaboration with Kawneer on the project,” said Richard Wamboldt, estimator with Carmel Architectural Sales. “The engineers and representatives from Kawneer were truly a part of the design team.”

The glaziers and architects had previously worked with Kawneer products, and with an all glass wall on a C-shaped building, they knew that the curtain wall would have to be flexible in order to successfully accomplish the design. “Something like this was not easy to frame,” said Ken Yarnall, sales representative for Kawneer. “To achieve the slope, each module on the curtain wall was its own unit, using back to back vertical mullions, which all required a miter cut at the bottom, most of which were compound miters.”

“Not a lot of LEED buildings are designed to be a resource center for other consumers and builders. This project was unique in so many ways. The Frontier Project was designed to be an experience and it is,” said Corbin.

Besides providing unique aesthetics, the continuous glass curtain wall on the courtyard side of the building not only maximized views, but allowed daylight to reach into the building, reducing dependency on artificial light. For increased thermal performance, Kawneer provided its Trifab® VG (VersaGlaze®) 451T framing. With four glazing options, four fabrication options and multiple infill choices, Trifab® VG 451T framing can suit almost any project.  Adding to the thermal performance of the building are Kawneer’s high-performance, thermally broken 8225TL IsoLock® Windows. The windows feature cast white bronze locking hardware that provides superior strength and an attractive appearance and include a vent and frame design that impedes air infiltration and provides water resistance under the most severe weather conditions.

Kawneer’s 190 Narrow Stile Entrances, 350 Medium Stile Entrances, 350 Medium Stile Auto Show Room Entrances and 1010 Sliding Mall Fronts (with custom sill track) were also utilized throughout the building. The 190 Narrow Stile Entrances are engineered for moderate traffic applications and provide a slim look that meets virtually all construction requirements. For areas with high traffic where extra strength is required, 350 Medium Stile Entrances were used. And to help in instances where larger items needed to fit in the building, 350 Medium Stile Auto Show Room Entrances were used. These doors can be configured to allow larger door opening widths (up to 8’-0”) and heights (up to 8’-0”).

In addition to the use of several high-performance products on the interior and exterior of the building, the facility features many sustainable components that were incorporated to not only reduce energy consumption and encourage conservation, but to change perceptions on sustainable building design. The Frontier Project uses a passive natural ventilation system to lower the temperature 20 degrees from the outside environment, which in Rancho Cucamonga has often been recorded over 100 degrees Farenheit in summer months. The system is comprised of two solar chimneys with topside vents and zinc cladding that absorbs heat, as well as a passive cool tower. Additionally, a bioswale assists in harvesting rainwater to irrigate gardens from an underground cistern and infiltration pit that serves to recharge the aquifer. Eighty-five percent of rainwater is reused onsite.

“We wanted the building itself to create a visitor journey. We stretched our imaginations and took a look at what each of the building products could contribute to the overall experience,” said Gutierrez.

Though people often think a great deal of advanced technology is used to create LEED certified buildings, Corbin says that the ideology is very simple: “It really goes back to ancient building principles like daylighting and appropriate site use. We are emphasizing the value of putting the right materials in the right position to get efficient buildings and energy use.”

Construction was completed in August 2009 and the facility was opened to the public in November of 2009. In addition to receiving LEED Platinum certification, the building has been recognized with several design awards, including three American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards (United States Green Building Council’s Leadership for Education and advocacy in sustainable design, and a People’s Choice from AIA), an award for design achievement, as well as a nomination for an award in effective and renewable interior design practices. Most recently, the Los Angeles Business Council 40th Annual Architectural Awards names the Frontier Project, Best of LA - Domestic category.

“Despite the complicated design of the curtain wall, and the entire building, it was through the partnership and cooperation of the team – manufacturers, contractors and designer – that the installation went so smoothly,” said Wamboldt.

“Not a lot of LEED buildings are designed to be a resource center for consumers and builders. This project was unique in so many ways – from the intricate design elements to how the sustainable components are pieced together as a true example of how a building can make a positive environmental impact. The Frontier Project was designed to be an experience, and it is,” concluded Corbin.