For decades, Xerox Corp. occupied the modernist, Craig Ellwood-designed office building located at 777 Aviation Boulevard in El Segundo, CA. Historically dense with aviation and defense companies, the city has evolved into a modern and diverse business community. In step with the city’s transformation, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) reimagined 777 Aviation to reflect the needs and culture of today’s workspaces. A café, gym, bike-rental program, and dog park are all part of the building’s updated scope.
The goal of developers Embarcadero Capital Partners, Belmont, CA, and Westbrook Partners, Los Angeles, was to repurpose the three-story building from a single-tenant to a multi-tenant space. They also aimed to create vibrant indoor and outdoor collaborative environments and give the facade an updated look. SOM accomplished this by leveraging the benefits of glass throughout the building to optimize daylight diffusion, thermal performance, and aesthetics. Integrating a grand atrium with a series of large-scale skylights, removing concrete shear walls, and incorporating fenestration systems that met thermal-performance requirements without compromising the design intent, all played key roles.
CRL-U.S. Aluminum, Los Angeles, manufactured and supplied custom architectural glazing systems to help meet the project’s design and performance requirements. The first-floor facade and upper-level balcony areas feature the company’s series 4500SG structural silicone glazed curtainwall. The curtainwall has a pressure-bar-free design for faster installation. It’s also engineered without exposed exterior vertical mullions and joint fasteners to produce uninterrupted horizontal glass spans. This presents streamlined visuals and a seamless transition to the interior. The curtainwall incorporates a polyurethane thermal break and proprietary injection-molded thermoplastic connector that joins interior and exterior members to achieve total thermal isolation.
The upgraded envelope also features CRL-U.S. Aluminum’s Entice entrance system. The system uses ultra-narrow 1 1/8-in. vertical stiles and an overall system depth of only 2 1/2-in., delivering a striking all-glass aesthetic. In addition, it has the unique ability to support handle hardware—including panic devices—on 1-in. insulating glass units using proprietary through-glass fittings. This produces a distinct floating-on-air visual. Entice features thermally broken framing and cladding that provides U-factors as low as 0.33. Since it keeps hardware to a minimum, it also allows the flow of ample daylight.
“Given the performance criteria for the new fenestration and our goal of having a minimalist aesthetic, there was no other option than the Entice entrance system we specified,” said Susan Bartley, AIA, LEED AP, and project manager at SOM Architecture.
Both the curtainwall and entrance system helped execute SOM’s objective of giving the facade an updated, minimalist aesthetic that did not conflict with the iconic architecture from Craig Ellwood that was left in place. Existing systems were grandfathered in, but the curtainwall and entrance system were subjected to, and met, California Title 24’s stringent thermal-performance requirements.
New CRL glazing systems in 777 Aviation’s interior served to complement and reinforce the exterior themes. Interior glass entrances feature DRS door rails with floating headers and low-profile sidelite channels that produce clean glass spans. The rails are paired with CRL-Blumcraft panic handles, which feature a slim, elegant tubular design that enhances safety, security, and aesthetics. Taller glass spans, made possible by using 13/16-in. custom laminated glass, improve STC ratings for reduced sound transmission. The sprawling glass walls feature a custom dot-pattern frit that adds a distinct design element while providing privacy.
The grand atrium at 777 Aviation’s core is flanked by walkways lined with the company’s GRS Taper-Loc glass guardrail system. The guardrail offers the only ICC-ES approved base shoe system for glass railings available. It also complies with 2015 IBC updates to ensure codes are met. The glass guardrail helps maximize transparency and natural-light diffusion, which expands the contemporary aesthetic.
With 777 Aviation, SOM went beyond the traditional scope of a retrofit project by significantly and purposefully upgrading the building’s identity and performance without entirely forgoing the iconic architecture. CRL glazing systems can be used across multiple scopes to meet standards for sound mitigation, thermal performance, safety, and aesthetics.
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