Modern Design, Inspired by Nature, Striving for Sustainability: SUNY's Expanded Student Union Building Features a Custom Glazing System Finished by Linetec

Wausau, Wis. - Revitalizing the Student Union Building at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, the original 1970's institution transformed an existing concrete building and an underused courtyard into a welcoming "winter garden" encased in glass and metal. Inspired by the regional landscape of the Catskill Mountains, the form and shape of the Student Union's new "Atrium" is abstracted from the Shawangunk ridge. Daylighting, outside views, recyclable materials, thermal comfort and interior air quality are other examples of the many aspects that contribute to the project's sustainability goals.

ikon.5 architects envisioned the building's Modern design and open building concept as a common meeting place for the students and faculty. Complementing the exterior, the interior of the space was designed for comfort and is filled with many pieces of over-sized modernist furniture. Bringing the vision to life, Niram, Inc. served as general contractor.

Super Sky Products engineered, fabricated and installed the Atrium's custom glazing system. The three-story addition is enclosed in 10,150 square feet of multifaceted, vertical, inverted and overhead glass in an aluminum frame and supported by an exposed steel structure. All of the aluminum framing and cladding components for the Super Sky's glazing system were painted by Linetec with different colors on the interior and exterior. On the inside, a Bone White 50% Kynar® polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) resin coating was used. On the outside, a Sea Foam Green custom two-coat mica, 70% Kynar 500 PVDF resin-based coating was spray-applied and oven-cured.

The State University Construction Fund (SUCF) provided an estimated $13.4 million to expand and enhance the Student Union Building. SUCF requires all new buildings and major rehabilitation projects to be designed and constructed to meet the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® rating system for a Silver certification level. Meeting these green guidelines, SUNY's website notes that the "project during construction and later during operation will be the most environmentally friendly project the campus has ever witnessed, complete with low/zero impact mechanical and electrical support systems as well as sustainable finishes throughout."

A key aspect of sustainable finishes is recognized by utilizing materials with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to improve interior air quality. Linetec's finishing facility safely and efficiently captures and destroys the VOCs present in liquid solvent-based paints. "We use specialized equipment to safely capture 100% of the VOCs released in the painting process, and to destroy these captured VOCs with 98.5% efficiency at the factory - before the materials' arrival to the building site," says Linetec's senior marketing specialist, Tammy Schroeder, LEED® Green Associate.

Schroeder continues, "As the mainstay of architectural coatings, 70% PVDF coatings offer the ultimate protection in building performance. These finishes exhibit outstanding resistance to humidity, color change, chalk, gloss loss and chemicals. The reliability and durability of this painted finish helps reduce maintenance, repair and replacement."

Along with the glazing system's recyclable aluminum framing and durable, eco-friendly finishes, the insulated, laminated glass units also supports SUNY's sustainability objectives. Viracon's VNE2-63 glass was specified to optimize occupants' comfort by reducing solar heat gain and enhance energy efficiency by reducing artificial light and electricity use. The glass also is a design element in itself as its ceramic frit is patterned after an abstracted, digitized version of the Shawangunk Mountains' tectonic plates.

"Like any precision machine, it is only through the sum of the parts that we are able to continually and successfully complete difficult projects such as this," said Ryan Navis, Super Sky's project manager. "Super Sky's experienced and dedicated personnel are only part of the equation. It takes top-of-the-line dedicated and experienced suppliers such as Linetec and Viracon to make difficult projects like this one seem commonplace."

The grand opening of the Student Union Building's Atrium took place on Sept. 13, 2010. Today, this award-winning Campus Commons fulfills its vision offering areas for studying, gaming, dining, conversing, collaborating and connecting.

Student Union Building, State University of New York (SUNY); New Paltz, N.Y.

  • Architect: ikon.5 architects; Princeton, N.J.

  • General contractor: Niram, Inc.; Boonton, N.J.

  • Glazing system - manufacturer and installer: Super Sky Products Enterprises, LLC; Mequon, Wis.

  • Glazing system - glass fabricator: Viracon, Inc.; Owatonna, Minn.

  • Glazing system - finisher: Linetec; Wausau, Wis.

  • Photos courtesy of: Super Sky Products Enterprises, LLC

  • Photographer: William Lemke

    Learn more about Linetec and its finishing services at or by calling 888-717-1472.

    Linetec is one of the nation's largest paint and anodize finishers, and the largest independent architectural finisher. Located in Wisconsin, the company serves customers across the country through a national trucking network and offers 500,000-square-feet of capacity for finishing such products as aluminum windows, wall systems, doors, hardware and other architectural metal components, as well as automotive, marine and manufactured consumer goods.

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