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Virginia Beach Convention Center


  • Location: Virginia Beach, USA
  • Completion date: January 2007
  • Architectural Firm(s): Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP |
  • Glass Fabricator:  Viracon |
  • Featured product(s):  Saflex® Solar (SG41)

Balancing form and function

The new Virginia Beach Convention Center was conceived by city planners as the crown jewel of the city’s 40-year master revitalization plan.  As such, architects were asked to design a state-of-the-art structure that would help give the historic beach resort town a contemporary cosmopolitan flair.  Capturing the abundant natural light and stunning beach and city views was a priority, as was hurricane protection and energy efficiency.


A Nautical Glass Skyline 

In a nod to the area’s beach resort history, architects turned to a nautical theme for the center’s 516,222 square-foot design.  A four-story glass tower and attached soaring nautical glass wall dominate the Virginia Beach skyline, a sparkling mast and sail over the sea of buildings.  As visitors approach, the glass curtain wall appears to float in pools of water both inside and outside the build-ing.  The use of clear glass through the project infuses the building’s interiors with natural light and visually connects the interior and exterior environments.

While the glass curtain wall serves as a striking design element, it is also pro-vides powerful hurricane protection.   The interior lites of the insulating curtain wall assemblies are made with PVB interlayer from Solutia’s Saflex division.  Manufactured by permanently bonding a tough Saflex interlayer between two pieces of glass under heat and pressure, laminated glass in a properly designed and tested framing system, can be an important element in protecting the building envelope.  If the glass is impacted, even by debris blown at hurricane-force wind speeds, it may crack, however, the Saflex interlayer helps keep the glazing in the framing system helping to prevent debris from penetrating the opening and entering the structure.

With sweeping expanses of curtain wall, architects also added Viracon’s VE-42 coating to the insulating laminated configuration.  This low-e coating couples high visible light transmission and low reflectivity for clear, two-way vision and natural aesthetics.  The coating also offers an excellent u-value, giving the glass an enhanced thermal performance.  A lined ceramic frit silk-screen pattern was also added to select areas of the curtain wall to reduce internal glare and fur-ther control solar heat transference.  


Unsurpassed Safety Performance

When it comes to hurricane protection, Saflex is the interlayer of choice.  When used in properly designed window and door systems, laminated glass made with Saflex interlayer will successfully meet hurricane regu-lations and standards including:

  • The International Building Code (IBC) 
  • The International Residential Code (IRC)   
  • National Fire Protection Association – Building Construction & Safety Code (NFPA 5000)  
  • The Florida Building Code (FBC) 
  • Dade County Florida product certification require-ments 
  • ASTM International Standards and Specifications for windborne debris impact and pressure cycling standards


Categories: Curtain wall , Skylight/overhead glazing , Safety , Solar , Office , North america