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Everything’s Better with Daylight

Everything is better with daylight. While that may sound cliché, according to the Department of Energy, daylighting is a key building strategy that can save money for businesses. It lessens the need for artificial lighting, reduces electricity costs, and ultimately creates a more sustainable building.

Many factors go into creating the right daylighting—the type of window, window placement, and interior design all help to control how sunlight comes into a building. However, one of the most important decisions hinges on the right facade solution.

Curtain wall is typically the go-to for high-rise applications; however, window wall offers significant advantages in today’s market, in which clean design, quick installation and cost advantage are critical.

What is different?

Commercial buildings, such as office buildings and hotels, have traditionally been built with curtain wall.  In recent years, however, window wall has emerged as the preferred system for mixed-use buildings. While curtain wall systems are designed to sit in front of the building and anchor to each floor line, window wall systems by definition rest inside the building and span floor-to-floor (or less than one floor).  This creates an inherent cost advantage over curtain wall systems, as structural requirements can be met with less material and reinforcing.

A key attribute of window wall systems is the ability to install and glaze from inside the building. This attribute is enhanced by pre-glazing, which further shortens installation time and requires less labor.

Paired with innovative slab edge covers, window wall provides a modern, clean look, and maximum design versatility. It mirrors the look of curtain wall from a building’s exterior, while providing high thermal and acoustical performance, at a more reasonable cost.

Sound Matters

As prime downtown locations become more scarce, developers look to build on less desirable sites near freeways, airports and more. This fuels the need for better acoustical performance, as well as the need for better research and understanding of how to achieve better sound control without dramatic cost increases.  

Unlike curtain wall, window wall is a slab-to-slab application, and does not transmit sound waves from floor-to-floor, creating better sound attenuation. This provides specifiers with more control over acoustical performance, particularly in mid-to-high-rise residential and multifamily applications where acoustics are highly valued.

Quick Installation

In today’s fast-paced construction environment in which labor is an ongoing challenge, it is important to examine pre-glazed options. This enables all panels to be fabricated, assembled and glazed in the shop, rather than on site. This also allows for the installation of the system from the inside of the building, a critical specification in spaces where construction sites are tight and space is limited. Additionally, window wall shortens the construction cycle by allowing drying-in by floor unlike curtain wall, which requires drying-in by elevation.


Steve Schohan

Steve Schohan

Steve Schohan is marketing and communications manager at YKK AP America, where he develops marketing strategies and leads research efforts on emerging markets and trends, with an emphasis on driving industry product evolution and innovation. Schohan has more than 25 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, retail, and consumer products industries.