University of Washington Lake Union Medical Building

Cambridge Architectural

A Solucent™ woven metal mesh application from Cambridge Architectural provides a first-of-its-kind exterior shading and daylighting system, dramatically reducing solar heat gain and cooling costs for a new facility on the University of Washington’s South Lake Union campus.

The facility is part of UW Medicine’s new research hub in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, dedicated to developing new interdisciplinary initiatives and leading the nation in biomedical research. Cambridge’s Solucent mesh application was installed over the windows on the exterior façade of the building to provide a unique and modern aesthetic, while contributing to substantial energy savings through solar shading.

The solar shading properties of Cambridge’s Solucent mesh application immediately caught the attention of the project’s architect, and led to the specification of the material.

“We chose Cambridge mesh because, through energy analysis, we were able to prove that the metal fabric panels reduced the solar heat gain into the building on the west and south facades, lowering our cooling loads to the building,” says Andrew Clinch, architect.

The Cambridge Solucent system provides transparency, so people inside the building can still see out. The inherent nature of mesh allows it to shade the sun without blocking the view through the windows.

“Cambridge’s mesh provided just the right veil for the building,” says Clinch. “It is a lightweight and elegant material that successfully balances shading properties and transparency.”

“Architectural mesh is quite simply the most versatile shading solution available today,” says Heather Collins, director of marketing for Cambridge Architectural. “The strides we have made in energy savings and sustainability are remarkable. With mesh, nothing is sacrificed – aesthetics, function and ease of installation all seamlessly work together better than any other shading system.”

The UW Medicine Building team took advantage of Solucent’s unique system design, which utilizes long spans of mesh to minimize the number of protrusions through the building’s curtain wall. All Solucent systems are designed this way, allowing the shading application to easily integrate with the building exterior.

“I was amazed at how quickly the installation was rolled out,” says Andrew Clinch. “The integration of the Cambridge system with the building’s curtainwall worked really well.”

“Cambridge was committed to working with us throughout the design process,” says Paul Riendeau, project manager for Benson Industries, Contractor and Installer for the project. “They were involved in a series of meetings and actually helped in the development of support brackets to meet the architects’ performance criterion as well as aesthetic appearance.”

The Solucent system was fabricated with mesh in Cambridge’s Mid-Balance pattern, which features large-scaled, flexible open weaves that shade and screen structures including facades, parking garages and pavilions.

Cambridge’s Scroll™ tension attachment hardware was used to install the Mid-Balance product. Scroll quarter-wraps and therefore conceals its support bracket. The unique hardware grips the metal fabric and holds it in tension up to 100 feet. Scroll is the only tension system to keep the focus on the metal fabric by hiding the attachment behind it.

Construction on the UW Medicine Building was completed in the Spring of 2008. The project team consists of architect Perkins+Will, Seattle, WA and contractor/installer Benson Industries, Portland, OR.

The primary function of Cambridge’s Solucent system is to save energy through solar shading. Like traditional shading materials, Solucent applications significantly reduce solar glare, light pollution and solar heat gain; however, unlike conventional shading materials, architectural mesh also promotes airflow and building security, and is designed to meet an array of opacity, shading and heat reduction requirements. Architectural mesh offers a sophisticated shading material that delivers visual appeal, functionality and energy savings to a wide variety of projects.

About Cambridge Architectural

Cambridge Architectural is a full-service provider of architectural metal mesh systems for both interior and exterior building applications. For more information, visit

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