Following devastating flood, Cedar Rapids rebuilds an award-winning library that unites indoor and outdoor spaces with SageGlass

Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Public Library is using SageGlass®, a product of Saint-Gobain, to create a visually dramatic backdrop for the facility’s auditorium, providing critical sunlight control and unencumbered views of the outdoors.

When the Iowa flood of 2008 destroyed the library, the city sought to rebuild a new world-class library with a design that embraced openness, transparency and public engagement with the indoor and outdoor spaces.OPN Architects designed the award-winning building and the result is a signature project for the City of Cedar Rapids and rallying place for the city’s flood recovery.

The centerpiece of the library’s design is the 200-seat Whipple Auditorium which features a large, multi-floor expanse of SageGlass. The 24-foot by 40-foot curtain wall of SageGlass provides views out to Greene Square and the cityscape and external views into the building. The dramatic use of glass frames the changing seasons and cityscape, providing a living backdrop for the stage.

“The entire building aims to reveal inner functions to the public, offering visitors unprecedented views from inside the library to the urban and park settings beyond and connecting the library to civic art, public gathering spaces, and programmed events. SageGlass enabled us to design a space with that kind of visual wow factor,” said Matthew Stewart, architect at OPN.

OPN Architects originally considered using two separate sun control systems for the auditorium: one to block glare and one with full blackout shades. But that approach would have been complex, inelegant and would block the outdoor/indoor views.

SageGlass, on the other hand, solved both problems of glare control and room darkening without ever losing the visual connection to the outdoors. SageGlass is electronically tintable dynamic glass that darkens or clears in response to the sun’s movements throughout the day, controlling glare, heat gain and damaging fading effects.

While SageGlass can tint automatically, the system features manual tinting controls since the auditorium is used for theatre performances and presentations at any time of the day.

The LEED® Platinum design has received numerous awards for innovative use of building technologies and its spirit of openness and transparency, including first place in the 2014 ASHRAE Technology Award, 2014 Illuminating Engineering Society Award, and an Interior Design Award from the American Library Association and the International Interior Design Association.

About SageGlass 

SageGlass®, a product of Saint-Gobain, is advanced dynamic glass that can be electronically tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass manages the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. It can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. With SageGlass you can control sunlight and glare without shades or blinds while maintaining the view and connection to the outdoors. SageGlass is manufactured in Faribault, MN, in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry,” and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, the world’s largest building materials company.

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About Saint-Gobain

Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials company, has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 265 locations in North America and approximately 15,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $7.9 billion in 2013.

Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. For more information about Saint-Gobain in North America, visit and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.

About Saint-Gobain

Located in 64 countries and headquartered in Paris with nearly 195,000 employees, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction markets, designs, manufactures and distributes building materials, providing innovative solutions to meet growing demand for energy efficiency and for environmental protection. For more information about Saint-Gobain, please visit

600450 Following devastating flood, Cedar Rapids rebuilds an award-winning library that unites indoor and outdoor spaces with SageGlass
Date: 29 October 2014

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