Solar carving allows Chicago building to maximize sunlight

The Solstice on the Park building, Chicago, Illinois, capitalizes on the benefits of sunlight using solar control low-emissivity (low-e) glass and solar carving. Photo courtesy Tom Kessler
The Solstice on the Park building, Chicago, Illinois, capitalizes on the benefits of sunlight using solar control low-emissivity (low-e) glass and solar carving.
Photo courtesy Tom Kessler

Solstice on the Park, an apartment building in Chicago, Illinois, capitalizes on the benefits of sunlight using solar control low-emissivity (low-e) glass. Glass is also a key component in the building’s design as it helps it thrive in the harsh winters and sunny summers of the Windy City.

Solstice on the Park, designed by Chicago-based architecture and urban design practice Studio Gang, was tracked to maximize daylighting and passive solar warming in the winter, and to increase solar shading and reduce heat gain during the summer. Those two demands were met using the solar control glass.

Located in the heart of the city’s Hyde Park, Solstice in the Park is one of the first structures to feature a technique known as solar carving. Invented by Studio Gang, the practice involves designing sharp angles into the building façade—based on the building’s location and alignment to the sun—so they function as a system of natural solar shading devices.

At Solstice on the Park, the angles are produced with massive floor-to-ceiling windows that slant at a severe 72-degree angle. During the summer, this orientation prevents the heat of direct sunlight from entering the building. When the weather gets colder and the sun sits lower, the same window layout helps the tower collect the warmth of winter daylight.

Both effects are enhanced with the solar control low-e glass. Combined with clear glass in a standard 25-mm (1-in.) insulating glass unit (IGU), the solar control glass offers visible light transmittance (VLT) of 70 percent and a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.39.

With its clear-glass appearance, the glass also gives residents of Solstice on the Park unobstructed views of Jackson Park and the Chicago skyline. Due to its unique solar control design, rainwater catchment system and cool green roof, the building has earned Green Globes Certification with a Two Green Globes rating. It is also slated to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

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