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Refurbishment of the Joseph Black Building

The first phase of the refurbishment of the University of Glasgow’s Joseph Black Building is well underway, with Smart Architectural Aluminium’s Alitherm Heritage window and door system being installed throughout.

The £34 million refurbishment of this iconic, A-listed building has been designed to give it a completely new lease of life, preserving the design heritage of the building while introducing modern, high-performance, high-quality materials.

Due for completion in September 2020, this first phase of work covers the replacement of all the windows and doors in the external envelope of the 17,000m² building. The work was commissioned to upgrade the fabric of the building, improve its efficiency and performance and make it a better research, learning and teaching environment for staff and students.

More than 1,100 Smart Alitherm Heritage windows are being installed, with the windows featuring a new transom shadow detail, developed specifically for this project within just eight weeks. This extraordinary turnaround included the production and approval of two sample transoms and the manufacture of three new extrusion dies. The detailed design also included the provision for new EPDM gaskets to be used, to ensure that none of the gasket was visible from the unusual drip detail above the window hinges.

A stunning feature of the building is the 10.8m-tall window units, installed above the main reception and stairwells, the design of which has been faithfully recreated using the proven Alitherm Heritage system. Developed to precisely match the slim profiles of original steel windows that are a feature of heritage projects and listed buildings such as this, Alitherm Heritage nevertheless delivers the exceptional thermal performance associated with modern aluminium systems.

The Joseph Black building is home to the University’s School of Chemistry and houses a combination of lecture rooms, laboratories and offices. As a consequence, the refurbishment programme has been subject to detailed planning to reduce impact on building users.

In terms of matching the original window profiles, it was critical that the design maintained the essence of the building’s ‘art-moderne’ design and replicated the lines of 1930’s steel windows. The team designed the new cill and gasket details to ensure that an almost exact match to the original design was achieved.

Alitherm Heritage has helped maintain the aesthetic integrity of the original building, but at the same time enabled the staff, students and estates management team to benefit from the comfort, performance and cost efficiencies that modern aluminium materials deliver.

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