The Thermal Blanket Concept

An Active Double Skin Facade at the Manhattan Beach Library



Photo of Bharat Patel, PE, CEM, LEED AP

Bharat Patel, PE, CEM, LEED AP

Harley Ellis Devereaux

Photo of Michael Bulander, AIA, LEED AP

Michael Bulander, AIA, LEED AP

AIA, Senior Designer

Harley Ellis Devereaux



This paper tells the story of a Double Skin Facade (DSF), where high performance and multi-disciplinary collaboration saves a library concept of openness, transparency and aesthetic delight. At the recently constructed Manhattan Beach Library the integrated design approach between architects, building scientists, and mechanical engineers saved an aesthetically stunning double glass facade from cost cutting measures by making it an integrated part of the building systems. The multi discipline design team developed a performance concept that gave the active double skin facade (ADSF) a functional justification. A first concept aimed to reclaim the conditioned air generated in the air space between the glass layers into to cool and heat the building interiors. This approach required an intake at the bottom which was detrimental to the main design vision of openness and transparency. Therefore, the design team developed a second concept where the idea of a ‘thermal blanket’ is employed. This is a solution where the double glass facade can be considered a ‘transparent insolation’. A post occupancy evaluation (POE) identified areas where the building was not performing as modeled, which were then subsequently eliminated. The Manhattan Beach Library highlights the importance of collaboration between multiple disciplines adding real value to this building component and resulting in a stunning award-winning high-performance library that stands to serve the community.

The Double Glass Facade at the Manhattan Beach Library is of interest to an international interdisciplinary audience because it is a pioneering design that uses an active double facade that responds to climate conditions. This leads to the development of a new approach to the double skin facade; the ‘Active Double Skin Facade’ (ADSF). This pioneering concept can be a model for other climate zones and make the architectural element of the double skin facade more important in the future.


Figure 1: Site Diagram showing solar orientation and Civic Center adjacency. Located on a prominent site, the award-winning Manhattan Beach Library captures views of the Pacific Ocean and provides a

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The University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research building provided an example where one side incorporates

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Design Concept 1

The analysis was based on a number of software applications these included Energy Plus engine with an interface of Design Builder. When assessing the feasibility of heat

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Design Concept 1

(Typical analysis of top and bottom vents of façades)

All three double glazed façades were analyzed for the rise in temperature rise (delta-t) and airflow (cfm) of

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An active ventilated double façade system would result in the reduction in both maintenance and operational costs. Essentially, because the frequency of cleaning two sides of the double façade would

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Post Occupancy

In conclusion the active double façade system with an exhaust air circulating around the building provides a thermal blanket and has proved to be energy efficient. The actual performance of

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In conclusion, the active double façade system with exhaust air circulating around the building providing a thermal blanket has proved to be energy efficient. The actual performance of the system

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Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED), Architect of Record | MEP
Johnson Facaro, Design Architect