Bendheim rainscreen protects Essex County College’s newest building

Design adds modern, high-tech look to West Caldwell campus

Essex County College recently turned to Bendheim to custom-engineer an 8,000-square-foot rainscreen for a new building on its West Caldwell campus, bringing a dramatic, high-tech aesthetic transformation to the school.

The Bendheim glass rainscreen system creates a barrier envelope around the building, effectively protecting it from moisture. The “shingled” rainscreen system of clear laminated glass covers the finished façade. The precision-engineered system stops over 90% of wind-driven moisture and is fully adjustable, allowing for quick and easy installation.

Bendheim collaborated with Netta Architects to design and hide the rainscreen’s structural brackets behind the fiber cement cladding. The Wall H system was attached directly to the exterior stud wall, eliminating the need for continuous structural steel support and thereby reducing the cost of the installation.

Essex CC, a two-year college, opened in 1968 and enrolls about 5,500 students. The new building is a 51,700-square-foot, four-story structure that sits on the site of the original campus, a converted, century-old elementary school. The elementary school was razed in 2021 to allow for construction of the new building.

“The new, state-of-the-art campus is our fulfillment of our vision of transforming lives,” ECC President Augustin Boyake said.

Rainscreens are exterior wall cladding barrier systems that stand away from a building’s exterior weather-resistant constructed façade. Rainscreens protect the building façade from water infiltration, controlling water drainage and evaporation. The elegant glass over-cladding completely transforms and elevates the appearance of a building as it provides a maintenance-friendly, durable nonporous glass surface.

“Decorative glass rainscreen systems are an ideal means of increasing a building’s longevity with an easily maintained façade,” Bendheim President Donald Jayson said. “Glass is one of the most durable building materials to stand up to rain and wind. Water is the biggest factor in the premature deterioration of buildings.”

The Wall H system is ideal for second-skin façades featuring horizontally overlapping glass panels. The mechanical compression glass fittings provide increased strength and security, and individual glass panels can be replaced without deglazing surrounding panels.

The new building contains administrative offices, classrooms, labs, an auditorium/lecture hall and an admission center. John Johnston, project designer for Netta Architects, said the new campus: “(Consists) of a lot of glass and openness, driven by technology and a modern Information Commons. It will be a place where students want to come and stay. It will be a pinnacle to this county for years to come.”

DMD Contracting constructed the building and Glass Systems Inc., of Hillsborough installed the rainscreen.

Bendheim’s systems allow water to escape and air to circulate, reducing the risk of mold, mildew and water damage. Any small amount of water making its way past the glass is drained and channeled away from the building. Any water vapor is ventilated out the top of the system as air circulates upward between the rainscreen and the exterior building wall.