Design Brief: Skylights with Suspended Ceilings

March 1, 2003
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Table of ContentsTraditionally, skylight wells in large, low-rise commercial buildings have been custom designed and site built, an expensive and labor-intensive process. This design brief explores the benefits of a better alternative: splayed modular skylight wells specifically designed for use with suspended ceilings. These prefabricated systems, which consist of a twopart light well with a throat and a splay, are a relatively new design concept. Although they are not yet commercially available, there is considerable market interest in these systems thanks to their potential to provide superior lighting quality, increase energy efficiency, improve occupant comfort, and lower installation costs. This design brief provides four conceptual examples of prefabricated skylight well systems. Each of these proposed designs integrates suspended ceilings and traditional skylight systems to introduce daylight into commercial spaces with finished ceilings. As a new concept, splayed modular skylight wells can solve many issues faced by designers who wish to provide daylight in large, low-rise buildings. The following key issues need to be addressed when designing with these systems:

Design to achieve the best light quality for optimal energy savings while working with conventional building systems, construction processes, and standards.
With each skylight well component, satisfy minimum performance goals for illumination, energy use, fire safety, structural integrity, and assembly sequence.
Treat skylighting design as an iterative process. Refine the skylighting design as other building systems are designed. The skylighting design can start with simple assumptions and be fine-tuned along the way using sophisticated design tools.

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