Skylight Structural Engineering Solves Big Problems at the University of Wyoming
The original skylights at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, WY, never performed as expected. The skylights were designed to be flush with the roofing for aesthetic reasons, but the manufacturer’s system failed miserably for many different reasons. In fact, they’re no longer in business.
How to replace a failed skylight system and a new roof while maintaining the appearance of the original design.
Installing a pre-manufactured structural skylight seemed to be the initial answer. However, closer inspection revealed several issues:
- The structural construction of the building varied from skylight to skylight.
- The desire to have the skylights embedded within the roofing.
- The many different custom shaped openings.
- Each skylight opening did not have one square corner.
It became evident that pre-manufactured skylights may not fit the openings during construction. If that happened it would be impossible to alter the openings to fit the skylights. And there would be no time to re-order a new skylight and glazing before weather set in for the winter.
The solution required a site-built product.
- One that could be glazed in such a way to allow the system to be flush with the roof.
- One with the ability to remove the glazing cap without altering the roof flashing.
- One able to weep on top of the roof surface.
- And one that included a thermal break.
The product found by the architect was our MAGS BAR™ system, which fit every need.
Simple structural engineering was required to span the openings with our MAGS BAR™, which is a non-structural glazing bar. Maximum opening widths were ten feet and a uniform sized aluminum tube was specified so that no matter what the width or span was, the same size tube was utilized. The height for each piece of glazing was maintained as originally designed, roughly four feet. The MAGS BAR™ tied into the roofing as advertised, allowing both a flush mount and the ability to replace a piece of glass, if needed, in the future.
This is a non-structural, all aluminum, glazing bar with neoprene gaskets. It allows for the simple installation of glass on any structure and with any design.
In the end the General Contractor and the Architect had complete confidence in our product and installation crews. The Owners Representative had some doubts but when the job was complete and all water tests were completed plus surviving a winter with no issues they reluctantly agreed that this skylight was no longer going to cause them problems. I think they were so used to the old skylight having issues that they expected the new one to have them, too. The project received awards from the CRA (Colorado Roofing Association) and all parties had smiles and agreed a job well done.