Owatonna Hospital Reflection Center: Colored glass creates soothing, restful environment for healing

In the Reflection Room of the Owatonna Hospital, patients find a quiet refuge amid the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital. The architect states that “the colored glass, combined with other calming features, makes this an ideal place to celebrate a birth, pray with family members, contemplate next steps, make some of life’s biggest decisions, find a moment of tranquility or grieve a loss.” The tinted windows offer beautiful views of the Healing Garden and the rolling hills beyond, but also provide a private place for visitors to connect more fully with their spiritual self, reinforcing the hospital’s commitment to “treating the whole person-mind, body, and spirit.”

Project Category: Interior

Project Name: Owatonna Hospital Reflection Center

Location: Owatonna, Minnesota

Glass Laminator: Viracon

Photographer Credit: Courtesy Owatonna Hospital

Architect: HGA Architects

Address: 701 Washington Avenue North Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA 55401

Phone: (612) 758-4000

Call for Entries Now Closed

The call for entries for the 2012 World of Color Awards™ Inspired by Vanceva® is officially closed. The winning architectural designs will be announced at Glasstec Tradeshow, Düsseldorf, Germany, and Oct. 23rd– Oct. 26th. Continue dreaming in color and we hope you return soon.

Quote: Marc Chagall

“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.”

~ Marc Chagall

Design Project Profile: Black Pearl

Building Owner: Metropolitan Construction Company
Architectural Firm: Shin Takamatsu

On a motorway to Taiwan from the Taipei airport gleams a magnificent and sparkling jewel-like building, located in the center of a bustling new business park designed for information technology and biotechnology companies. Metropolitan Construction Company, who named the building “Black Pearl,” commissioned this project to be built not only as prime real estate but also as a landmark. Cross-shaped LED lights mounted at the intersection of each window sash create the effect of constellations of shining stars on the buildings exterior – set against a pristine black, subtly curved glass façade that corresponds to the “flowing” shape of the Keeloung River which winds in front of the building.

Black Pearl is surrounded by buildings with light colored panels and glazing, further highlighting the arresting black appearance of the building. Solutia’s black Saflex™ interlayers for glass were chosen to create the intrigue and mystique surrounding the building, which has been called a sparkling wonder in the night.

“We chose to explore ‘heaviness’ as the primary design theme. The heaviness is similar to what small jewelry possesses.  It intrigues people, encouraging the creation of a bond between them,” says Shin Takamatsu, architect for the Black Pearl project.

The glazing of Black Pearl was also designed to help withstand Taiwan’s occasional earthquakes and typhoons. While laminated glass may crack, it tends to stay within the frame, providing added safety during an earthquake or typhoon.   The Saflex protective interlayer in laminated glass helps glass fragments stay in place, protecting people from injuries resulting from wind-borne debris.

Windows can also be the weak link in the transmission of unwanted sound into a building. Just as a window lets in light, it can also transmit noise from sources such as airplanes, traffic, and heavy machinery. The Black Pearl architects also selected Saflex because it dampens the vibration of the glass, thus reducing transmitted sound.

Technically, a three-dimensional smooth façade was realized by dividing the building’s surface into 1598 areas and covering them with 799 patterned flat glass panels. To combat the sunny climate in Taiwan, Shin Takamatsu employed a special gray-film laminated glass (visible light transmittance rate: 0.44%, UV cut rate: 99%, reflectance value: 0.67), to reduce glare and improve office working conditions. By controlling direct sunlight, the glass reduces energy requirements for air-conditioning.

Quote: Oscar Wilde

“He had that curious love of green, which in individuals is always the sign of a subtle artistic temperament, and in nations is said to denote a laxity, if not a decadence of morals.”

~ Oscar Wilde
Irish Playwright, Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer and Freemason, 1854–1900

Effects of glazing color types on daylight quality, arousal and switch-on patterns for electric lights in a scaled office room

In March 2010 a group of researchers from Quebec, Canada tested the visual quality and comfort of different types of window glazing in a typical office space. What they discovered may change the way architects think about window glazing in office buildings.

Based on an oral questionnaire, a written questionnaire, and ratings from the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS), the researchers compared the visual comfort, naturality, pleasantness, precision, and light level of blue, bronze and neutral glass experienced by each of the thirty-six participants. The results from each survey were combined and given an average score so that researchers could compare the three colors of window glazing.

They discovered that blue glazing actually increased the participants’ sleepiness, while bronze and neutral glazing had almost no effect on sleepiness level.

In terms of visual comfort, pleasantness, and light level, bronze glazing was preferred over both the blue and the neutral tinted glass. Participants also stated that the appearance and texture of objects in the room looked the most natural when viewed with bronze window glazing.

The participants’ tendency to switch on electric lighting did not show any significant results from one type of glazing to the other.

Overall, the bronze tint was collectively preferred by the participants and they found that it had the highest level of pleasantness and naturality. Based on this study, the architects and designers of future office buildings may want to consider bronze window glazing to increase the comfort and success of office employees.


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