Erected in 1830 and designed by George Smith, the Grade II* Listed St Albans former Town Hall is one of the city’s landmarks described in Pevsner’s Buildings of England as a “giant portico of four fluted Ionic columns, placed on a plinth of full ground floor height with the main entrances between robust Tuscan pillars”. The elegant venue has been lately extended and repurposed to designs by John Mc Aslan and Partners as a world-class centre for arts and culture at the heart of one of Britain’s most historic cities.
As part of the refurbishment Selectaglaze, a specialist designer of Secondary Glazing systems that has operated in St Albans for over 50 years, was approached by the consultants to think of ways of improving environmental controls.
Very large tripartite single glazed windows in the impressive 1st floor Assembly Room offered extremely poor thermal insulation. Other windows required significantly improved security to meet Arts Council guidelines for inclusion in the Government Indemnity Insurance scheme. This meant that units which had been tested and met LPS1175 standards had to be used. The design also had to meet exacting conservation requirements and working closely with contractor Willmott Dixon Construction a sample window was first produced for the Assembly Room. This was a special 3-part vertical sliding unit measuring 4.3m (h) x 1.7m (w) designed to be as sympathetic as possible to the original window design. It was constructed with powder painted aluminium sections to match existing paintwork and 6.8mm low emissivity laminated glass. The finished installation was inspected and approved allowing the remaining windows to be treated.
The room environment is now significantly improved. Low emissivity glass reduces heat loss by more than 60%, frame seals eliminate draughts and the laminated glass not only removes 99% of UV light, which can cause fade to fabrics and paintings, but also provides additional safety. Windows in other areas were treated with a certified security range using specialist glass.
The new St Albans Museum + Gallery is free to visit and showcases over 2000 years of heritage with permanent displays telling the story of St Albans from the pre-Roman era through to modern times and will also host changing exhibitions and events. A number of historic places have been restored including the courtroom and prison cells and the main entrance houses a delightful café which will also cater for special events at the museum.
This project, financed in part by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has transformed an underused building which had fallen into disrepair and repurposed it into a vibrant cultural centre for the City.
Founded in 1966, Royal Warrant holder Selectaglaze works closely with clients to ensure their buildings are warmer, quieter and safer. The Company’s wide range of products are fully tested and certified and produced to exacting quality standards. A free technical advisory service is offered and RIBA approved CPDs are available to architects and designers.
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