Tomlinson Library Remodel Maintains Open Atrium, Reduces Smoke Evacuation with McKeon Fire-Rated Curtains

During the remodel design for the Tomlinson Library at Colorado Mesa University, it was determined the existing smoke control system for the 37’ X 37’ atrium was not sufficient to meet the current codes.

IBC 2012, section 404 addresses the requirements for atrium spaces.  In an atrium with more than 2 connected floors, a smoke control system must be installed.  This can cost over one million dollars, including make-up air and back-up power systems.  The smoke control design must be large enough to remove smoke from all the adjoining spaces.  To reduce the size of the system required, a 1-hour fire barrier can be installed.  This can consist of a fire barrier wall (section 706) or fire protectives that comply with section 716.  There is also a provision for installing glass with closely spaced sprinklers.  This glass exception is only for atrium areas and cannot be used in any other application.

The Tomlinson Library project was initially a 70,000 SF building built in the 1980’s.  This remodel expanded the building to 95,000 square feet, including adding a kitchen with a dining area and coffee shop.

Bennett, Wagner & Grody architects were awarded this remodel.  After exploring several options with Powers, including increasing the size of the smoke control system, they decided to use McKeon’s fire and smoke rated curtains for most of the separation.  Glass with sprinklers were also used to separate some individual rooms as well as create the barrier between the dining area and the library.  Make-up air was brought into the building by opening a portion of the storefront with automatic swing door operators.

The 19 McKeon smoke and fire curtains around the perimeter of the 4-story central atrium are virtually invisible when in the standby position.  The compact design helps fit these units in the ceiling and the side tracks (guides) only require a ¼” slot in the wall.  The coiling curtains on the project range in width from 5’9” to almost 40’.  Because of their slim profile, these units are never seen by the general public.

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