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Curtain Wall Design As A Civil Engineering Elective Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovation in the Civil Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.397.1 - 14.397.9



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Paper Authors


Reynaldo Pablo Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne

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Reynaldo M. Pablo, Jr. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Manufacturing & Construction Engineering Technology and Interior Design at Indiana University Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. He also earned his M.S. in Structural Engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Mindanao State University, Philippines. His expertise lies in the areas of bridge design loading calibration, bridge design and evaluation, and reliability of bridge structures.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Curtain Wall Design as a Civil Engineering Elective Course


Curtain wall industry is an important contributor to the design, manufacturing, and installation of energy-efficient architectural building envelopes of the nation. Not only do they make the building aesthetically appealing but they do help conserve energy. Incorporating a semester-long course on curtain wall design in the civil engineering curriculum can greatly help the students understand the fundamental concepts of curtain walls. In this course they will learn how to analyze and design curtain wall systems. Students who successfully complete the course will gain the technical know-how they could use in their future careers.


Façades are the first aesthetical feature of a building that distinguishes one building from another. “Curtain wall” is a term used to describe a building façade which does not carry any dead load from the building other than its own dead load, and one which transfers the horizontal loads (wind loads) that are incident upon it1. These loads are transferred to the main building structure through connections at floors or columns of the building.

The first steel-framed skyscrapers, built late in the 19th century, introduced the concept of the curtain wall, an exterior cladding supported at each story by the frame. The name “curtain wall” derives from the idea that the wall is thin and “hangs’ like a curtain on the structural frame2. The earliest curtain walls were constructed of masonry. The principal advantage of the curtain wall is that, because it bears no vertical load, it can be thin and light in weight regardless of the height of the buildings, as compared to a masonry load-bearing wall, which may become prohibitively thick and weighty at the base of a very tall building. Curtain walls may be constructed of any noncombustible material that is suitable for exposure to the weather. They may be either constructed in place or prefabricated.

A curtain wall is designed to resist air and water infiltration, wind forces acting on the building, seismic forces (usually only those imposed by the inertia of the curtain wall), and its own dead load forces. Major advancements in façade technology gives architects and specialists the opportunity to vary the appearance of the building envelope, create an integrated grid system with all of their ideas, such as windows, ventilation elements, aluminum features, etc. and maintain a high level weather proofing3.

The design, construction, and maintenance of buildings have a tremendous impact on our environment and our natural resources, increasing global warming. Buildings are the major source of the pollution that compromises urban air quality, and produce the pollutants that contribute to climate change. Building practices offer an opportunity to create environmentally friendly and resource-efficient buildings by using an integrated approach to design. They can promote a sustainable approach increasing resource conservation, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation features; considering environmental impacts and

Pablo, R. (2009, June), Curtain Wall Design As A Civil Engineering Elective Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5390

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