Refreshing the facade of Houghton Academy

Buffalo, New York
classroom interior
Houghton Academy
Photo credit: Orchard Photography

Houghton Academy replaced 125 aging, inconsistent windows (shown on 1st floor) with a unified look, customized to match the school's historic aesthetic using dual color finishes and high performance windows featuring Technoform's polyamide thermal barrier for energy efficiency, structural performance and long-term durability (shown on 2nd and 3rd floor).

Constructed in 1924, Houghton Academy - Buffalo Public School #69 in Buffalo, New York was designed by the Associated Buffalo Architects Inc. The U-shaped floor plan surrounds a courtyard in the rear and a classic revival style entrance in the front. The auditorium and gymnasium are situated at the four-story center of the building with three-story wings accommodating classrooms and future additions. The brick and stone structure is punctuated with large window bays. Over time, the windows were replaced without preserving the architectural integrity. This resulted in inconsistent window types, trim and colors.

Christine Hentz, architect with the Buffalo Board of Education, elaborates, “In the 1970s, the windows were replaced, many with sliders on the bottom and aluminum panel infill. The windows on the front elevation around the courtyard were replaced about 15 years ago along with the east and west elevations.” In 2007, Houghton Academy underwent a major renovation adding 25,500 square feet, bringing the school’s total square footage to 99,890. Hentz says, “New windows were installed in the new addition that resembled the originals, but we didn’t get new windows in the existing corridors of the buildings.”

Dual colors, dual finishes

Wausau provided T.G.R. Enterprises with its 310i Series single-hung and 4250i-XLT INvent™ Series project-out windows. Both are manufactured using Technoform’s polyamide thermal barriers, known generically as “thermal strip.” Wausau’s custom-contoured panning profile helped replicate the look of the windows’ original profile. The majority of windows also feature glazed-in grid muntins with beveled profiles to accentuate the classic appearance. Linetec painted the panning, muntins and windows’
exteriors in a Sandstone colored 70% Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) two coat, in-house blend.
“Seventy percent PVDF coatings offer the ultimate protection in building performance. These are some of the most durable coatings available,” says Linetec’s senior marketing specialist, Tammy Schroeder, LEED® Green Associate. “Their long lifecycle reduces the need for maintenance and replacement and minimizes the associated time, cost and materials.”

Houghton Academy’s windows’ Sandstone paint color matches the stonework surrounding them. Hentz explains, “I selected a color that matched the limestone. On the interior, we maintained the original wood frame, trim and sills. The woodwork is finished in this brownish olive color that is very specific to our schools. It’s practically impossible to match, so we went with a Dark Bronze on the windows’ interior finish that looks nice.”

The Dark Bronze not only is a different color, but also an entirely different finish process. Because it is an integral part of the substrate, anodize highlights aluminum’s natural beauty and metallic appearance. The anodic coating results in a hard, durable substance providing excellent wear and abrasion resistance with minimal maintenance.

Because interior and exterior components can be finished before assembly of the thermal strip system dual-color designs, or even dual finishes, can be achieved easily and efficiently. With other thermal improvement systems, dual-color, or “two-tone,” finishing involves painting one side of the material one color; then masking it off and painting the other side a different color.

Because two different finishing types were used on Houghton Academy windows – paint and anodize, any other thermal barrier method would not have been an option for this project. For two-color frame finishing using paint at the interior and exterior, Linetec estimates that Technoform’s thermal strip system painted assemblies are 400% less expensive than other thermal barrier methods that require time-consuming masking. “When the building design calls for different interior and exterior finishes, thermal strip becomes the most economical option,” says Schroeder. “When a two-tone anodize is specified – or a paint and anodize interior/exterior, like this project – it is practically impossible to accomplish with anything other than thermal strip.”

Energy efficiency, effortless operation

Along with the appropriate aesthetic, thermal performance and smooth operation were top priorities for Houghton Academy’s 125 new windows.

Technoform’s polyamide composition creates a highly effective thermal barrier that helps insulate 500 times better than aluminum. Because it expands and contracts at a rate similar to aluminum, Technoform’s system delivers long-term durability and water-tightness in a properly assembled profile. It also resists heat distortion and withstands most chemicals used in the construction industry.

Using Technoform’s thermal strip for aluminum separation lowers conductivity, thereby reducing the windows’ thermal transmittance (U-Factor), while increasing condensation resistance. Low U-Factors allow broad expanses of vision glass to meet Model Energy Codes. Enhancing thermal performance for Houghton Academy, the windows are factory-glazed at Wausau’s manufacturing center using Viracon's VE1-85 insulating glass.

Wausau’s 4250i-XLT Invent Series windows are tested to meet AAMA AW-100 Architectural Performance Class ratings, including new AAMA 910-10 lifecycle testing to 4000 operating cycles. Simulating the look of double-hung windows, 4250i-XLT INvent projectout windows are easier to operate and have no counter-balancing mechanisms to maintain or replace.

“When you have a double-hung with full divided lites and insulated glass in these large sizes, they tend to be very, very heavy. Wausau offered a unit that appears to be a doublehung, but is fixed on top and swings out on the bottom,” says Hentz. “Now, teachers can easily open and close the windows.”

Taking effortless operation to the next level, Wausau also prepared the gymnasium’s replacement clerestory windows for motorized operation.
When the building design calls for different interior and exterior finishes, thermal strip becomes the most economical option.
When a two-tone anodize is specified – or a paint and anodize interior/exterior, like this project – it is practically impossible to accomplish with anything other than thermal strip.

Tammy Schroeder, LEED® Green associate - Linetec architectural paint finishing

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