E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse
This is one of the first bomb-resistant buildings completed in Washington that still has an architectural look,” says Don Deister about the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington D.C., completed in September 2005. Deister served as senior project manager for contract glazier PCC Construction Components Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md.
The courthouse is a General Services Administration building, categorized at a level 4 risk, requiring numerous bomb-mitigating design elements. However, design architect Michael Graves, of Michael Graves & Associates of Princeton, N.J., relied on almost 30,000 square feet of bomb-resistant glazing instead of heavy steel and concrete to protect the high-risk facility.
Deister says PCC installed about 28,000 square feet of custom-unitized blast-resistant window system and 15,000 square feet of composite metal panel system. The lites, measuring from 6 feet by 6 feet-to-6 feet by 8 feet each weigh at least 1,000 pounds. “We installed about 132 tons of glass and aluminum,” he says.
The first floor of the six-story courthouse features bullet-proof glass with aluminum and steel frames, able to stop a bullet from a high-powered rifle without penetration or debris. The remaining floors use blast-resistant glass with only aluminum frames, he says.
The glazing units throughout the building are insulating glass, ranging from about 11⁄8-to-21⁄8-inches thick. Most outer lites are 6-millimeter, low-emissivity, heat strengthened glass, and the inner are tinted and laminated lites. Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon provided the glass.
PCC employees confronted several challenges during construction, in part as a result of a change in pre-cast contractor midway through. “We initially planned to put every piece in the building before the pre-cast went up,” says Vito Germinario, president of PCC. “Instead, we were installing 1,000-pound glass units literally after the duct work and sprinklers went up. … We had to painstakingly handle the glass, but there was very little breakage.”
The total cost for glazing reached about $10 million, including the interior glass—heat resistant and bullet proof in the areas where prisoners are transported, and about 6,000 square feet of 120-minute rated fire glass. Safti First, a division of San Francisco-based O’Keefe’s Inc., provided the fire glass.
The Smith Group in Washington, D.C., served as the local architect. Centex Construction Co.’s Fairfax, Va., office served as the general contractor.