One of our favorite design challenges at Bellwether is the creation of all glass vestibules. They blend aesthetic design with mechanical design, to manage both energy efficiency and the flow of visitors to the building.
Glass Vestibule Conditioning / Environmental Management
When properly executed, the vestibule’s design actively keeps outside elements from entering the building lobby. The double sets of doors keep heat loss and heat gain to a minimum, ultimately reducing the temperature swings that have to be made up by the HVAC system. The walk-off mats scrape sand, water and snow from visitor’s shoes to keep floors cleaner and safer.
During the design phase of a vestibule, we are often asked about the best ways to heat and cool them for comfort. This emphasis on glass vestibule conditioning (basically trying to create a mini lobby space) can be misplaced.
In terms of conditioning, think less about trying to mimic environmental conditions within the building, and more about designing a space that:
- Actively deflects its own heat gain / heat loss through low-e coatings, frits, tints, etc.
- Is pressurized properly to create an active curtain which keeps exterior elements in their place
Visitor Flow with a Vestibule
The size, configuration, and aesthetics of a jewel box vestibule serves to help visitors slow down and switch gears from the busy, unfiltered exterior world, to the quieter, and more orderly lobby space.
In terms of aesthetic design, we recommend an open and experimental approach. Make a strong design statement that sets the tone for the visitor experience within the building itself, and introduces the businesses that occupy it. An all glass vestibule is a excellent place to make that first architectural impression that occupants and visitors can sense tangibly. It is the first indication of the quality standards of the architecture and of the businesses within.
Again, the conditioning goal within a vestibule is to limit the intrusion of unwanted heat, cold, sand, water and snow, they keep the main building cleaner, safer, and more comfortable. And the primary design goal of an all-glass vestibule is to create a space that helps the visitor to experience the architectural intent, and transition from one mindset to another.