DuPont Home
Safety Glass

Florida building codes met by hurricane windows with SentryGlas® at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts

South Florida's Broward Center for the Performing Arts guards against hurricane damage using windows made with DuPont™ SentryGlas® structural interlayer.
Poised at the bend of the New River, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is Fort Lauderdale's glittering cultural jewel. The 204,000-square-foot icon, which debuted in 1991, entertains 500,000 guests annually in its 2,700-seat Au Rene Theater, an intimate 595-seat Amaturo space, and the Abdo New River room.

The Center has quickly assumed a starring role in its community, winning Fort Lauderdale's heart with rousing performances like Riverdance and resources like an award-winning Student Enrichment in Arts and Sciences program. Attendees cheer not only shows, music and events, but glorious views of the city skyline through 17,100 square feet of tall windowpanes.

The South Florida Center, however, also is a beautiful bullseye for the most intense punches nature throws: hurricanes. Florida has front row seats for the vicious storms: more than 80 of them have roared through the state in the past 110 years. Devastating Hurricane Andrew ripped through in 1992, killing 15, leaving 175,000 homeless and causing $35 billion in property damage. Post-storm investigations revealed that the 130 mph winds resulted in severe property destruction and a leading cause of that damage was window and door penetration.

Winds, vandals and noise are repelled by windows with DuPont™ SentryGlas®, without compromising aesthetics.

To help deflect future destruction, Broward and Dade counties passed tough new building codes in September 1994. Under the regulations, all doors and windows must resist penetration by a nine-pound two-by-four fired twice from a cannon at 34 mph. They also must stand up to intense cyclical tests that simulate conflicting air pressures that occur in hurricane conditions -- pressures that cause even some traditional laminated glass windows to flex and fail.

Since the Broward Center pre-dated the codes, its soaring glass faces -- and the Center's priceless interior -- were vulnerable to nature's unpredictability. To remedy the worrying weakness, DuPont teamed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provided a matching grant, the school board of Broward County and the Broward County Commission. The team retrofitted the cultural centerpiece with windows strengthened with DuPont™ SentryGlas® structural interlayer. The new glazing ensures a safe home now and in the future for groups like the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Philharmonic.

Simulating wind-driven debris,a 2x4 is fired into a windowpane with SentryGlas®, which keeps the board from penetrating.

"It is reassuring to find the excellent partners, technology and products like SentryGlas® that can help protect this integral part of our community and its quality of life for generations to come," comments Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of the Center, who notes that the Center sits just two miles from the ocean. "Together, we reduced risks that we know from experience loom on our horizon."

Observed John Copenhaver, director of FEMA Region IV: "The Broward Performing Arts Center is a model project to show buildings can withstand damaging hurricane winds. As a partner in this project, DuPont is a model citizen contributing toward the SentryGlas® windows, making certain the building does not lose windows to wind debris."

Invented specifically to meet these strict Florida regulations, SentryGlas® expands the capabilities of traditional laminated glass and provides a clear alternative over shutters or plywood to guard buildings from punishing storm forces.

"In pressure tests, excessive window deflection with regular laminated glass limits the number of applications that glass can satisfy," notes Jeff Granato, DuPont architectural marketing manager, who explains that SentryGlas® is based on completely new, patented polymer chemistry. "But SentryGlas® has five times the tear strength and 100 times the rigidity of traditional polyvinyl butyral laminated glass. In identical pressure tests, windows with this product deflect only a few inches. They maintain their integrity very well. And it has excellent post breakage strength -- even if the glass is broken, the pane remains intact and retains the rigidity of an unbroken pane of glass.

Residential building codes along Florida's coastline are being amended to require test-approved windows such as those with DuPont™ SentryGlas®.

"SentryGlas® also protects the view, unlike shutters. It is always on the job while shutters must be quickly installed under threat of a storm." This herculean strength ensures that even if the Broward Center's windows are damaged by a storm, the building maintains security. The windowpanes were laminated by Laminated Glass Corp. of Telford, Pennsylvania.

"During the fourth annual South Florida Hurricane Conference, we did a cannon demonstration at the Center in which we fired a two-by-four at a SentryGlas® window," adds Granato. "After the window was impacted, we let attending journalists impersonate looting thugs and attack the pane with baseball bats. They couldn't break through." This toughness makes SentryGlas® ideal for applications in which threats to property are man-made rather than natural.

SentryGlas® is such a sturdy product that it is employed architecturally to support building loads. It can be drilled and bolted securely -- something that is difficult with traditional laminated glass.

Florida home builders find that windows made with DuPont™ SentryGlas® can be an affordable alternative to adding hurricane shutters.

SentryGlas® also answers consumer needs for solar coatings that won't scratch. "It's sandwiched between two panes of glass," explains Granato. "So, glass manufacturers can apply heat absorbing or reflective coatings inside with the SentryGlas® where they can't be degraded by cleaning or scratching."

If they listen closely, visitors to the Broward Center won't hear another benefit of the new windows. "We've noticed that the building is quieter since the new windows have been installed," says Van Antle, the Center's director of facility operations. Such sound deadening acts in concert with the Center's specially designed acoustics.

While SentryGlas® is particularly suited for large, architectural window expanses, the Florida residential sector is embracing it, too -- for financial reasons. To encourage builders and homeowners to install hurricane-resistant glazing, insurance companies agreed to provide premium price breaks to their protected clients. As Florida recently extended its new building codes to cover the majority of its coastline, SentryGlas® has begun and will likely continue to glaze many more Florida structures.

While DuPont introduced SentryGlas® in hurricane territory, the company is preparing for a strong market in other areas as well. "We're working with major window manufacturers nationwide to make this product available to all customers with window breakage concerns -- inhabitants of high crime areas, those in earthquake zones and others," says Granato. "This product is perfect anywhere people wish to preserve the view, light and beauty glass provides without bowing to its historic frailties."