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Glass-Walled Addition Leads to Creative Structural Retrofitting Solutions

delta dental exterior glass wall shades

The curtain wall allows in natural light while also keeping the interior from becoming too warm.

The Johnston-based, corporate headquarters of Delta Dental of Iowa is strategically positioned along the busy Interstate 35/80 corridor. This high visibility location exposes the company name and logo to the thousands of drivers who pass by each day. In 2013, Delta Dental hired OPN Architects to design an addition for their building that would allow them to consolidate operations at the Johnston location. Snyder & Associates structural engineering subsidiary, Shuck-Britson, was brought on board to lead the structural engineering design efforts for this expansive, 25,000 square-foot, two-story addition.

The design team worked closely with the client to develop a plan that would take full advantage of the outdoor views and amenities that already existed on site. To that end, full-height window walls were incorporated on every side of the new addition. To transition between the original building space and the expansion, two-story spaces along the east and west glass walls create indoor patio space for employee collaboration. Priorities were also placed on energy-efficient strategies like geothermal heating and cooling and a design that would meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold criteria.

Open Interior Uses Natural Light & Unique Structural Components

Elsewhere in the interior, the structural team was able to blend a variety of materials into a solid, cohesive structure. The use of a terra cotta feature wall and wood paneling frames the open staircases and creates distinctive focal points in the addition. The staircases incorporate painted steel, composite stringers with stainless steel handrails, and glass guardrails that continue the open sightlines throughout the space. The cast-in-place concrete stair supports are overlaid with an attractive terrazzo veneer. And like the staircases, painted steel structural columns are left exposed and become a part of the interior design.

In addition to the open floor plan, the space was also designed to allow plentiful access to daylight. To limit excess heat and glare on the south side of the building, a louvered sunscreen covers the aluminum-clad curtain wall. Rising from floor to ceiling, the sunscreen lets in plenty of natural light while maintaining a comfortable environment inside. And because of the additional story over the original building, the company name and logo gained more visibility to the interstate.

This newly expanded Delta Dental of Iowa facility is designed to accommodate steady growth for the company for many years. The visually-appealing, staff-friendly quarters presents employees with ample collaboration space and provides a high-profile, eco-friendly environment to positively promote their brand.