University of New Mexico and Revolutionary Windows

University of New Mexico and Revolutionary Windows
Photo source
Courtesy Bora Architects/Photographer Steve Maylone
How Suntuitive® Dynamic Glass was implemented at the University of New Mexico Anderson School’s new McKinnon Center for Management

Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the campus of the University of New Mexico stands out in a town that boasts more than 500,000 residents.  The school is the flagship university in the state and covers more than 800 acres with what it calls “a distinctive campus environment with a Pueblo Revival architectural theme.”  There are several nationally recognized structures on campus and recently a new one, which features brilliant design and cutting edge innovation, was erected. 

The recently completed McKinnon Center for Management is the newest home for students to receive high-quality management education programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  The 18-month project to complete the 63,000 square foot structure now stands proudly on campus and it does so showing off a memorable and impressive design along with revolutionary glass in its windows.

To be able to have a building that could impress the masses, the university engaged renowned architectural agency Bora Architects, also known for their designs of the Nike World Headquarters Work Place, the Walton Arts Center Expansion & Renovation, the Cosmopolitan Condominiums, and several prestigious collegiate campus buildings at Stanford, University of Washington, Oregon State University, and many more.  

Courtesy Bora Architects/Photographer Steve Maylone
Courtesy Bora Architects/Photographer Steve Maylone

Jeanie, Lai, Principal of Bora Architects and her team designed the McKinnon Center to feature a thermochromic glazing product, Suntuitive Dynamic Glass on its on its east, south, and west elevations.  The team from Bora had a plan right from the start to be able to make this building efficient and also utilize a glass product to guard against the sun and glare.  

“Building performance and occupant comfort are integral to Bora’s design tenets. Given the intense sun in New Mexico, we had a challenge to provide a comfortable workspace and learning environment for the faculty and students. Inspired by the architectural vernacular, we took a sculptural approach to the exterior design of the building. Additive sunshade elements on the building didn’t feel right. We were familiar with dynamic glass products and wanted to pursue a solution that better complimented the exterior design, one that didn’t become its own design element on the building. We did research on different types of dynamic glass products before selecting Suntuitive” 

Suntuitive is a dynamic glass product that is manufactured by a long time leader in the smart glass space: Pleotint, LLC.  For the Suntuitive team being involved with this project and this architectural firm was a tremendous opportunity.

Courtesy Bora Architects/Photographer Steve Maylone
Courtesy Bora Architects/Photographer Steve Maylone

“As one of the leaders in dynamic glass Suntuitive now has over 450 installations in close to 30 countries worldwide. It fills us with pride to be chosen by this prestigious school and an award winning architectural agency in order to create a better and more comfortable learning environment,” said Tom Donovan

Lai’s and her team at Bora choice for Suntuitive dynamic glass for the new McKinnon Center meant they were able to take full advantage of its attributes.

“Our sustainability consultant did a series of comparable analysis on solar gain, glazing performance, and energy. We also included UNM in the discussion early on – we organized product meetings for them to see and understand the new product themselves and shared our analysis and design studies.
Dynamic glass allowed us to strengthen our design concept. Because the client was part of the decision process, they were on board with us and excited to incorporate an exciting new technology on their campus. We were surprised by how quickly the product reacts. This is important because if it didn’t react quickly, user might end up using their window blinds which was something that we wanted to avoid. Once blinds are down, they tend to stay down. We wanted them to be comfortable and to have visibility and transparency both in and out of the building. Transparency that exposes the range of activity inside the building is an important design factor and paramount to the design.”

Suntuitive dynamic glass works through the use of a thermochromic interlayer that is activated by heat from direct sunlight, causing the window to tint as necessary. The thermochromic elements are embedded in a PVB (polyvinyl butyl) interlayer, which is then laminated between two pieces of glass. This laminate is then incorporated into the final product, a dynamic insulated glass unit (dIGU). There is no electricity used to make this resilient product work and the window unit installs in the same way a traditional unit does.

Donovan from Suntuitive confirmed the rapid growth in the education sector thanks to all of its features and benefits that are achieved in the learning environment through proper daylighting.

“Suntuitive is a resilient and advanced glass product that offers year-round thermal comfort, view preservation, glare mitigation, natural light, energy efficiency, noise reduction, structural and safety advantages, and sustainability, all the while being easy to install and utilize.”

Lai also envisions this product fitting into future plans.

“We love to educate our clients about dynamic glass when it’s appropriate. We can see a lot of advantages to using it from a design perspective.  The feedback and experience from UNM will help us with proposing dynamic glass on future projects.  Having a cost analysis between dynamic glass and exterior sunshades ready to show our clients along with our design studies, allowed us to clearly show the benefits of using Suntuitive. 

Loweres UNM44

The Anderson School of Management was the first professional school of management established in the state of New Mexico. It also can now add being a leader in using high performance and innovation in its glass for its latest building.  

More About Bora Architects and their distinct range of projects from Jeanie Lai:

We do projects across the country and across many market sectors. We love the diversity of our work. It keeps us curious and open to new perspectives and possibilities.  We enjoy founding synergies between our projects and cross pollenating design concepts. The specifics of each project and client become our main design inspiration.
Improving the human experience is always at the core of our work so while the parameters of the projects are different, our approach remains the same. Ultimately, we reply on the fundaments of good architecture to guide our work.

Collaborative design is a key factor to how we approach the diversity in our projects. We form unique teams for each project so that our staff are constantly learning and applying their knowledge while offering a new perspective. We engaged the entire office in design charrettes and reviews to harness ideas and learn from each other. Research and experimentation fuel our overall design process with richness from the latest sustainability strategies down to the detail construction of the stair. Our collaborative working style extends beyond our office from our clients to our experienced consultant teams. Their expertise and knowledge always inspire the overall design direction. 

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