Retrofit on Schedule & on Budget: A Rainscreen Case Study | Video

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Bendheim Wall-F rainscreen system effortlessly upgrades a commercial building without costly, wasteful demolition


About Rainscreen Applications for Retrofit Projects

An architectural rainscreen is an over-cladding system that is drained and back-ventilated, or pressure equalized. Both rainscreen types allow water to escape and air to circulate behind them. Rainscreen systems can reduce the risk of mold, mildew, and water damage to buildings. They can breathe new life into existing structures by presenting an attractive, refreshed, modern face. And they can accomplish this without disrupting occupants or requiring costly, wasteful, time-consuming demolition.

Retrofits & Green Building

The growing inventory of aging buildings, marked by a dated aesthetic and deterioration, poses architectural and environmental challenges. Many of our buildings were constructed during post-war booms in the 1960s and 1970s, and are approaching 50 years of age and older. Their skins have a reasonable life expectancy of up to 30 years.

According to Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, an engineering and design firm specializing on building rehabilitation: “Most old buildings perform poorly for their owners and occupants. Whether they leak, look shabby or waste energy, they still provide the basis for a sustainable future. Most of our building environment is already built; and the greenest building strategies are to reuse, not demolish, existing buildings… For environmental performance improvements, enclosures can be tuned-up, over-clad or re-clad. Each strategy involves varying levels of demolition, cost and energy improvements on the exterior. Overcladding and recladding offer additional opportunities to rebrand and update the building’s aesthetics.”

Rainscreens: Reuse | Reduce | Recycle

Rainscreen application supports at least two of the three core pillars of the green movement – Reduce & Reuse. Retrofitting an existing building by over-cladding with a functional, attractive glass rainscreen allows maximum reuse of existing building structures and resources, eliminates wasteful demolitions, and reduces the quantity of new construction materials needed.

The third core pillar of eco-friendly construction – Recycle – can also be addressed through the application of glass rainscreen systems featuring up to 100% recycled metal components, such as our compression glass fittings, and/or up to 40% post-consumer recycled glass panels, such as our decorative EcoGlass™.

In their article “The Science of Over-Cladding,” published in the NRU City of Toronto Edition, authors Michael McClelland, Graeme Stewart, and Dr. Ted Kesik note the following: “Internationally, over-cladding aging high-rises has been a key strategy for carbon reduction, especially in the European Union. A leader in the field has been Germany, where the tower blocks of post-wall Berlin have been significantly upgraded as part of both environmental policy and unification. In Bratislava, the entire district of hundreds of tower blocks is in the process of being over-clad as part of Slovakia’s environmental agreement in joining the EU… The project is not only making buildings more efficient, but also breathing new life into this aging district through new mixed use and improved public space.”

Ease of Rainscreen Installation & Maintenance

Existing buildings already present ample available surface to which new insulation, moisture protection membranes, and rainscreens can be applied with relative ease.

Eliminating or minimizing disruption to normal building operations is key to the rainscreen / over-cladding strategy. Rainscreen application allows the retrofit process to take place almost exclusively on the outside of the structure, avoiding interruption to occupant activities inside the building. This process also provides a unique opportunity to completely transform the building appearance and convert derelict structures into attractive architectural landmarks.

Bendheim’s patented fittings for glass rainscreens, ventilated facade, and interior wall cladding applications offer exceptionally easy setup and quick assembly methods. Unlike other systems, these compression fittings require no cut-outs or holes in the glass, affording superior wall strength and low fabrication costs. Also unique to our clipped glass systems, individual glass panels can be quickly and easily replaced without having to deglaze surrounding panels:


3001 Orchard Parkway Case Study

At a Glance

  • The Challenge: Modernize and raise the profile of the non-descript circa 1980 office building, and increase rent revenue potential.
  • The Solution: Bendheim’s ventilated decorative glass rainscreen, featuring our Längle® Wall-F compression fittings and three different types of laminated safety glass, enveloping the building.
  • Location: San Jose, CA
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Approx. Surface Area: 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Architect: MODULUS
  • Glazier: Classic Glass
  • Glass: Safety Laminated

Primary Retrofit Goals:

  • Achieve a contemporary, elegant aesthetic
  • Budget-friendly remodel
  • Avoid disturbing existing occupants
  • Ease of installation and maintenance of new facade

Feedback from the Architect:

“… We turned to the possibilities of what we could create using the Längle clip rainscreen as a key element. With the conceptual approach of a jeweled screen to modernize and accentuate the existing massing, the system proved to be a perfect match unachievable through any other avenue. Both its cost and ease of installation resulted in a newly transformed building garnering great attention and accolades throughout the technology driven Silicon Valley, with a facade and image unlike any other in the area. It was without question a huge success and we’re anxious to use this product again in new and inventive ways as we transform the face of what buildings and architecture can be.” — David Fenster, AIA LEED AP, MODULUS

From the Contractor:

“It was our first time installing Längle rainscreens, but hopefully not the last. Everything went very smoothly, and the process was straightforward and surprisingly stress-free from start to finish, especially when you consider that tenants were in and out of the building while we were mounting the system. The Bendheim team was very responsive and a pleasure to work with. We are very proud of how the installation came out and of our part in this beautiful transformation.” — Christine Jacobs, Classic Glass, Inc.

About Bendheim

Bendheim is one of the world’s foremost resources for specialty architectural glass. Founded in New York City in 1927, the fourth-generation, family-owned company offers a virtually unlimited range of in-stock and custom architectural glass varieties. Bendheim develops, fabricates, and distributes its products worldwide. The company maintains production facilities in New Jersey and an extensive showroom in New York City