Keeping an Open Concept Design Through Smoke Curtains

Case Study: University of Nevada Pennington Student Achievement Center

When the University of Nevada decided to build their Pennington Student Achievement Center in 2013, they knew they didn’t want the current style of smoke control, thanks to a bad experience with an old unit in the library. 

The architect, Jamie Saucier from H+K Architecture, and the construction team from Core Construction also knew they wanted a beautiful, open atrium but they were having problems finding a product that could function as smoke protection while also meeting code requirements for atriums.  

The Challenge

In 2013, there were no smoke control products on the market that could meet building codes for multi-story atriums. Smoke Guard’s M3000 Horizontal had just been created and had never been installed in a building. 

Building codes required smoke control for open atriums larger than three stories—which the Pennington building had in its design. Traditional smoke control systems were very expensive as they required extra HVAC units. The first unit(s) are designed to pull smoke out of the building. And as you're pulling that smoke-filled air out of the building, to prevent creating a vacuum that sucks all the doors closed, you also have to have a separate air system to resupply the air in the building, to push the air into the building: This process is called make-up air. 

In addition to these units, doors have to close and assist the movement of this air. And all of this—the smoke removing HVAC, the air addition HVAC and opening-closing of doors—is unrelated to the air conditioning HVAC system. So H+K and Core was trying to find a way to keep the building safe without having to use a smoke control system.

The Solution

The progressive and innovative team at H+K and Core Construction immediately saw the benefits of the M3000 Horizontal and were undeterred that it had not yet been put in an operational building. Instead, they worked with the Smoke Guard team to design M3000 Horizontal opening protectives that would fit the opening in the Pennington building. 

The team at Smoke Guard then helped the H+K team to get the use of the curtains code approved. Once approved, the SG team was able to work with Core Construction to get the M3000 Horizontal curtains installed, which involved complicated scheduling and maneuvering as the yard around the building was not only difficult to get to but small as well, and it needed to be shared with the rest of the building materials needed. 

The Final Result

In the end, all three groups involved—the University of Nevada, H+K Architecture and Core Construction—were ecstatic with how the Pennington building came out. They were able to have the multi-story, large, open atrium they wanted without having to add in additional HVAC units and specialized doors. 

And as an added bonus, the M3000 Horizontal opening protectives that were installed in 2014 have never needed to be serviced. They are checked every 6 months, as recommended by Smoke Guard, and they have never had a single issue with their quality or use. 

If you want to learn more about how Smoke Guard’s curtains can help you create a beautiful, open atrium, check out our blog or contact one of our reps.