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Why Custom is the Best Option for your Project – UCSD Altman Case Study

To start – a quick clarification on the title – “custom” is not always best. There are times when a Stella modification to a part might be a better fit OR a Stella Online Shop product might fit key project timelines better.
BUT there are many times when you have specific headaches (or “challenges”) that only a custom part can correctly resolve – as we say “the right product for your specific project”.

For example – the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)’s Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI). With an overall project size of 33,260 sq m [358,000 sq ft], the vertical sunshades were an element in the project’s achievement of LEED Gold Certification. These laminated glass fins were supported off Tower Glass’s curtainwall via outriggers and Stella custom spider assemblies.

UCSD Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Exterior with Sunshades. Photo owned/copyright by Tower Glass Inc.

UCSD Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute Exterior with Sunshades. Photo owned/copyright by Tower Glass Inc.

A custom spider fitting was the right solution for this project due to the following project challenges:

  • Significant loading requirement to meet
  • Unique design called for an unusual spider configuration
  • Large quantity of parts needed

    Close-up of Stella Custom Spiders. Photo owned/copyright by Tower Glass Inc.

To meet the loading required – we manufactured our spiders for this project out of Duplex 2205 Stainless Steel. This material (a Stella use innovation) is twice as strong as “normal” stainless steel allowing “Altman Spiders” to offer superior loading capabilities while retaining the original design concept.
We also considered that the bolt holding the spider to the mounting plate would be highly stressed and as such made careful material choices on the bolts and back nuts.

To meet the unique design – our spiders (and others) are typically supplied in 1,2, or 4 arm configurations but…they don’t have to be. We created a custom 3-arm configuration for these “Altman Spiders”.

To work with large quantity of parts – we typically say entirely custom-cast fittings tend to make sense (or “cents”…) at quantities of 100 or more (even 50 can work) due to the set-up costs of a completely-new design. We supplied over 1050 “Altman Spiders” – there were clear economies of scale on this project.

For the above reasons, a standard “catalog” part just wouldn’t have worked on this project.
We’re so glad that our glazing partner on this job (Tower Glass Inc.) and the rest of the project team agreed!

Other Key Project Details

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