As Penn State’s first ground-up building in downtown State College, Pa., the new LEED® Gold-targeting Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub, formerly known as the James Building, maximizes daylighting with precisely sized openings and a ground-floor curtainwall system.

Offering resources including rapid prototyping and fabrication labs, public co-working areas, a collaboration commons and meeting spaces with panoramic views, the 85,000-square-foot facility supports technology commercialization and local start-up companies through knowledge sharing and mentorship.

For the building facade, the architect KieranTimberlake designed a highly insulated, metal rainscreen, prefabricated into large modules. Captured and punched windows on the second to sixth floor, slightly larger at each ascending floor level, seamlessly integrate with the mica-coated metal skin.

“The windows are sized to maximize daylight while staying within normative sizes and aspect ratios,” explained Jason E. Smith, FAIA, design partner, KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia. “The vertical orientation of the windows enhances the slimness of the facade and provides a counterpoint to the weighty horizontality of the adjacent commercial buildings.”

In selecting the glazing for the windows and curtainwall, the project team carefully evaluated options based on glass performance, glass clarity and visual flatness, in addition to other qualitative aspects of the glass. After consulting with the construction management team and design assist trade partners, the architect selected Solarban® 60 Acuity® glass with a 5/16-in. outer lite which offered a high level of performance and aesthetics at the best value for the project.

Designed specifically to deliver ultimate transparency and visual clarity combined with energy efficiency, Solarban® 60 Acuity® glass provides visible light transmittance (VLT) of 73% and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.41, making it the ideal choice to meet the design team’s goals to maximize daylighting and enable connectivity between the interior and exterior environments without sacrificing energy performance.

With the Innovation Hub’s group offices occupying most of the floorplate perimeter, high quality solar control glazing was chosen over internal window shades to best balance daylighting and solar heat gain. Even though the punched and captured windows are aggregated, and not continuous, they still deliver generous views of the surrounding campus and landscape, with increasing incrementally larger openings on each floor.

“These copious views are especially notable in the sixth floor meeting and seminar spaces,” observed KieranTimberlake Associate Architect Ryan Wall, AIA, LEED® AP.

Similarly, the all-glass curtainwall at the building’s base maximizes visual connectivity between the building’s public spaces—the lobby, co-working and fabrication space—and the sidewalk pedestrian experience.

“We wanted to bring the community into the space, and to have the activity and positive energy inside the building visible and accessible from the exterior,” noted Principal Marilia Rodrigues.

Enhancing the glazing’s solar control, folds in the metal skin deliver both passive window shading and cast ever-changing shadows to animate the facade. “These folds are optimized by orientation and size of the adjacent window aperture,” said Smith.

In addition, a dynamic, folded metal roof canopy shades the entryway on Burrowes Street. Another overhang on the alley side provides shading for pedestrian and bicycle traffic while meeting municipal zoning code requirements.

The facility’s building systems are fully electrified and a novel air-recirculation and cleaning system, together with operable windows, reduce HVAC energy-use and boost indoor air quality.

The Innovation Hub also houses Penn State’s LaunchBox program, which has already developed 21 LaunchBoxes and Innovation Hubs across the state of Pennsylvania, supporting close to 5,000 entrepreneurs, and the creation of hundreds of jobs and internships in the past few years.

Additional project credits include:

  • Glass Fabricator: W. A. Wilson and Sons, Inc. (Vitro Certified® Network) 
  • Glazing Contractor: Nittany Building Specialties
  • General Contractor: L.F. Driscoll Company, LLC


For more information about Solarban®60Acuity®glass and other Vitro Architectural Glass products, visit