New Bell Museum features bird-safe glass windows
The new Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium features “fritted glass”, a type of glass with 1/16” lines screen printed on its surface. This custom patterned glass has been found to help birds avoid deadly collisions and is also designed for energy efficiency.
Birds don’t see glass in the same way people do. They often fly towards habitat or sky reflected in or seen through windows, frequently resulting in fatal results. A 2014 study by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife found that an estimated 365 million to 988 million birds die each year from building collisions in the United States.
While less than 30 percent of the Bell Museum is comprised of glass, the large glass expanses in the lobby and two storybox windows on the second floor could create potential hazards if measures were not taken. Identifying proper frit patterns and sourcing low reflectivity glass types were essential to the project and met Audubon and Minnesota Sustainable Building guidelines.
The decision to incorporate emerging bird-safe design elements in the Bell, Minnesota’s official natural history museum, was an easy one. Bell Museum executive director Denise Young said, “We strive for every part of this building to help us celebrate Minnesota’s natural resources and wildlife, and get people excited about science - especially the innovative work happening at the U of M.”
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