15-0626 v2.X Zone Jumping for Biomimcry Glass


Situated within an L1 Typology, the12,000 square foot environmental education center’s essential purpose is to connect visitors with the outdoors: to provide indoor resources and knowledge that directly compliment and enhance the outdoor experience.

During the public stakeholder process, the building’s bird viewing room received the most enthusiasm as a place where visitors can get up close and personal with nature. The bird viewing room will serve as a creative community space where guests of all ages will directly connect to a habitat that draws birds, butterflies, and bats. Outdoor microphones will bring the sounds of nature inside in real time, augmenting the visual experience. Students will be able to see and hear the birds they will later be seeking in the surrounding woods.To facilitate that learning and intimate experience, the room will be primarily glass, looking out at a landscaping of native shrubs and plants, a water feature, bat houses, butterfly and bird feeders. While we believe this space is critical for the immersive nature-based experience, its design is providing a unique challenge: the bird viewing room windows need to provide a clear view of the birds, butterflies and landscape for guests, while at the same time preventing the very birds the landscaping is attracting from flying into the glass.The Design Team worked through a number of options, including tilting the glass, applying a film, or relying on glass modified to break up the “clear” view that the birds see. Tilting the glass wall was creating a number of increasingly technical challenges for the structural engineers, and community’s feedback on such a tilt was that, as a leader of educating others on sustainable design, the Nature Center should, whenever possible, rely on solutions that would be replicable for most homeowners and businesses. The structural and financial challenges posed by such a tilt made that unviable for both ICNC and others in the community. The team obtained samples of locally sourced bird glass, and quickly identified some problems. The modified glass options (frosted, etched, or filmed) either contain clearly visible straightline patterns, with a significant portion of the glass clouded, or darken the glass significantly to the human eye, counterproductive to the purpose of the space. All three methods lack any biophilic properties, and reduce the connectivity with nature.

We need to identify and support solutions that prevent birdstrikes and enable is to live more in harmony with nature. During its research, the Design Team found Ornilux, a product that relies on the biomimicry principle of the way spider webs bend UV light to prevent birds from flying into the webs. While the “webbing” in the glass is visible to humans from certain angles, a slight tilt of the head reduces that significantly, providing clear viewing. Using Ornilux would allow the Nature Center to fulfill its purpose in three ways: educate about the value of biomimicry in building design; allow visitors to clearly view the birds and nature; and, prevent bird deaths associated with clear glass. Unfortunately, Ornilux would require us to jump one zone. Would we be allowed to jump the zone and use Ornilux for the approximate 650 square feet of glass in the bird viewing room? The rest of the building, where clear visibility is not as crucial to the purpose of the space, would rely on locally sourced windows and treatments and a more open native landscaping plan to reduce bird collisions.


It is acceptable to jump one zone for the Ornilux glass using Exception I14-E13 Function per the 2.1 Materials Petal Handbook (MPH p 25).

Post ID 3004

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