Glazing and curtain walls: Striking the balance of comfort and security

Everyone has reasonable expectations to feel secure and comfortable while occupying interior environments such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, churches, and entertainment venues. Saftey, comfort, and wellbeing are at the very heart of personal happiness and are directly tied to how people perceive their surroundings.

Traditional thinking within the building enclosure industry may suggest the aesthetic and comfort features of interior spaces run counter to their safety and security capabilities. While they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, it can be challenging for architects and designers to consider certain tradeoffs for glazing and curtain walls. The decisions they make are influenced by constraints and factors related to budget, material availability, and technical capabilities.

The vulnerability of these spaces is a significant consideration that requires comprehensive evaluation and assessment to make stakeholders aware of potential risks and solutions. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) describes vulnerabilities to be any weakness that can be exploited by an aggressor or, in a non-terrorist threat environment, make an asset susceptible to hazard damage.1 FEMA is one of many go-to resources for methodologies used to quantify risk and identify the most effective mitigation measures to achieve a desired level of protection against threats. These threats are continually evolving.

Research from estimates that while property crime occurrences have fallen by 33 percent since 2010, violent crime in U.S. cities has risen by 12 percent on average.2 As these threats evolve, it demands innovation from building enclosure companies to deliver a final product that strikes the right balance of comfort and security to meet the health, wellness, and safety needs of its occupants.

Given the major emphasis on building security in recent years, it is easy for the comfort quality of an interior space to get lost in the shuffle and be taken for granted. However, designers must prioritize comfort because it is fundamentally linked to customer satisfaction.


About IWR North America

Headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., IWR North America is one of the longest-standing specialty contractors in the nation, providing turnkey building enclosure and custom specialty metal design services coast-to-coast since the 1940s. With in-house design, fabrication and installation capabilities, coupled with access to preeminent providers of products and systems, IWR delivers value-added solutions as a single-source building enclosure partner. IWR is a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group, a national holding corporation with roots back to 1895. For more information, please visit or call 314-633-4958.