On 3/11/14, Engineering Express’ Andrew Piedra and Zachary Rubin, E.I. visited the Construction Research Laboratory curtainwall testing facility. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, they are the world’s first curtainwall test facility as well as the largest, capable of accommodating more than 30 wall mock-ups simultaneously.
Since 1955, Construction Research Lab has tested over 3,500 full-size curtainwalls and more than 3,500 windows, doors, roofs and other related products for prominent buildings such as Sears Tower in Chicago, the World Trade Center in New York, Hong Kong Bank and Bank of China (Hong Kong), the World Financial Center in Battery Park, New York, Canary Wharf in London and Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. They have 38 test chambers, ranging from five feet to 38 feet wide by more than 40 feet high. and routinely perform tests to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials, now ASTM International, American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the Florida Building Code on curtain walls, skylights, windows and doors.
The laboratory conducts air infiltration, water infiltration (static and dynamic), structural performance, interstory differential movement, seismic racking, impact, thermal cycling and condensation resistance of numerous curtainwall configurations. The lab uses airplane propeller engines to simulate positive pressure and vacuums to simulate negative pressure. The mock-ups they test typically contain all of the conditions of the actual curtainwall such as exterior corners and interior corners in order to simulate the actual conditions during a design event. The facility uses a pressurized cannon made of PVC pipe which launches projectiles at curtain wall specimens to conduct impact tests.
Feel free to browse the photos below for more information.