As Middle Tennessee State University celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Murphy Center throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, members of the campus community and visitors will immediately notice that the stunningly renovated facility now includes 33,000 square feet of SageGlass smart windows — the largest installation of dynamic glass in higher education in the United States.
Known affectionately by Blue Raider sports fans as “The Glass House,” the iconic building is the home of MTSU’s men’s and women’s basketball programs and the university’s primary indoor facility for concerts, commencement ceremonies, and numerous other large events.
The facility now boasts an almost $6 million upgrade that includes new glass that automatically tints and clears based on the sun, “further enhancing the fan experience at one of the great venues in the region,” Director of Athletics Chris Massaro said. “The decision to use SageGlass smart windows was a no-brainer for the Murphy Center’s 50th anniversary and gives the building an incredible exterior facelift. The glass at the Glass House has made a dramatic improvement in the look and feel of our beloved building.”
SageGlass smart windows block the sun on hot days and harness its heat on cool days, leading to energy savings and sustainability improvements, ensuring that the interior of the building is cool and comfortable for fans and student-athletes.
For MTSU, the decision to use SageGlass smart windows allowed the university to achieve two key goals: modernizing the historic facility for the 21st century and advancing sustainability in line with goal three of MTSU’s strategic plan, which calls for the university to be a leader in resourcefulness and efficiency. The busy facility, which hosts approximately 40 events each year in addition to daily practices and workouts, used to deal with significant glare and heat issues due to the large amount of glass incorporated into the building’s design.
“While the four-sided glass facade makes for a distinctive and eye-catching building, Murphy Center used to struggle with glare and temperature regulation and the university had to use curtains and motorized shades to manage sunlight,” said Mike Lane, vice president of sales for SageGlass. “SageGlass smart windows automatically tint and clear in response to the sun, creating a dynamic indoor environment that’s constantly optimized for visual and thermal comfort.”
Vicki Eastham, project manager for MTSU Campus Planning, said she and Bill Waits, assistant vice president for Campus Planning, have worked on the project since its inception more than two years ago, watching its progression that included 16 semi-trailers delivering the 1,300 pieces of SageGlass to be installed.
“Among the reasons we selected SageGlass was that its flexible technology allowed us to keep the renovation within the spirit of the original design of Murphy Center,” Eastham said. “Their dynamic glass will also allow the University to take advantage of branding opportunities through visible interior graphics on the glass panels.”
“Higher education has been one of the fastest growing segments for dynamic glass adoption,” added Lane. “Dynamic Glass was just added as an eligible technology to the Investment Tax Credit, which effectively lowers the cost premium significantly. New Direct Pay mechanisms will allow tax exempt entities, such as colleges and universities, to benefit from clean energy tax credits which historically they could not. We expect this development to further accelerate smart window adoption in higher education.”
Massaro said the improvements “allowed MTSU to both modernize and make the Murphy Center more viable for years to come!”
Eastham thanked Nashville, Tennessee-based ESa (Earl Swensson Associates) Inc. architectural firm for its project design work, general contractor The Parent Company Inc. of Brentwood, Tennessee, and glass contractor McInerney & Associates, also based in Nashville, for the glass installation.
Eastham, along with other MTSU and SageGlass officials, discuss the project on the January edition of the university’s television magazine program “Out of the Blue,” starting around the 9:40 mark:
Watch a special reflections video about the facility below: