ICC Approves Proposal That Says Glass Doors Can Be Used in Glass Atrium Walls
May 18, 2010

The International Code Council (ICC) approved as amended a proposed change to the International Building Code's (IBC) General Code section that clarifies that doors are allowed in the glass wall forming the separation between an atrium and adjoining spaces (G51-09/10).

Clay Aler, PE, representing Koffel Associates, proposed adding to the exceptions of a provision that mandates how atrium spaces be separated from adjacent spaces. The code requires a 1-hour fire barrier constructed in accordance with Section 707 or a horizontal assembly constructed in accordance with Section 712, or both, be used in these areas. In areas where a glass wall is used, Aler specified: "Self-closing glass doors shall be permitted in the glass wall."

In his comment, Aler wrote, "Where glass walls are used as an atrium enclosure, it is typical to include glass doors in the glass walls to maintain material continuity. The current code text makes no reference to whether glass doors are permitted as part of the atrium enclosure. The proposed revised text will make it clear that glass doors are permitted in glass walls, so long as the glass doors are sprinkler protected in a manner consistent with that provided for the glass wall."

Aler modified his original proposal with editorial adjustments, and it was this modification that was approved yesterday. The exceptions to the section would now state:

1. A fire barrier is not required where a glass wall forming a smoke partition is provided. The glass wall shall comply with all of the following:

    1.1 Automatic sprinklers are provided along both sides of the separation wall and doors, or on the room side only if there is not a walkway on the atrium side. The sprinklers shall be located between 4 inches and 12 inches (102 mm and 305 mm) away from the glass and at intervals along the glass not exceeding 6 feet (1829 mm). The sprinkler system shall be designed so that the entire surface of the glass is wet upon activation of the sprinkler system without obstruction;

    1.2 The glass wall shall be installed in a gasketed frame in a manner that the framing system deflects without breaking (loading) the glass before the sprinkler system operates; and where glass doors are provided in the glass wall, they shall be either self closing or automatic closing.

2. A fire barrier is not required where a glass-block wall assembly, complying with Section 2110 and having a 3/4-hour fire protection rating, is provided.

3. A fire barrier is not required between the atrium and the adjoining spaces of any three floors of the atrium provided such spaces are accounted for in the design of the smoke control system.

The ICC code change proposal hearings are taking place this week through May 23 in Dallas. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for further updates.

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