|Whether building a new hospital, renovating existing spaces, or leveraging "adaptive re-use" of structures originally intended for another occupancy, window selection in areas accessible to psychiatric patients can be challenging. Windowless environments or openings with jail-like bars or heavy security screens can feel imposing and constricting, which may not be conducive to positive mental health. Helping create a more home-like and caring atmosphere, with natural light and unrestricted view to the outside, still requires that patient safety remains a primary consideration. Balancing these goals, Wausau has been answering clients' needs for psychiatric windows for more than 25 years.
Through development programs with state agencies and their architectural consulting partners in New York, Missouri, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Wausau has designed several custom psychiatric fenestration systems, as well as its standard 3250-DT "drop tested" series of fixed and in-swing casement windows.
A triple-glazed update, the new 4000i-DT series, addresses today's need for enhanced energy performance through a broad selection of exterior glass options. The window's polyamide nylon thermal barrier allows the aluminum framing's durable finish to be specified as one color on the interior and a different one on the exterior.
When existing windows are weather-tight, economical Wausau 2187-DT S.E.A.L. interior prime windows offer enhancement of sound, energy, air and light control, along with human impact resistance.
All of Wausau's psychiatric grade window products are available with high recycled aluminum content. Integral between-glass blinds minimize maintenance, reduce solar heat gain, and offer privacy, without the potential dangers of exposed cords and slats.
Unlike conventional windows, psychiatric windows often must be designed to withstand high impacts from the interior, to confine patients, to restrict their passage to unauthorized areas, or to delay and frustrate escape attempts. Based on the basic physics of moving bodies, these human impacts can be as high as 2000 ft-lbs, requiring Â½-inch thick polycarbonate interior glazing.
Energy must be transferred sequentially through hardware, window frames, anchorage, and substrates. While Wausau's structural engineering team has developed useful algorithms for analyzing system performance under these high impact loads, testing is still recommended to validate security of the total system. Wausau has conducted dozens of such tests using 100 to 200 lb. shot-filled bags (approximating the density and deformation characteristics of the human body), dropped from various heights.
Depending on the level of supervision provided, as well as furnishings and equipment in the patient spaces, other design criteria may apply. Previously, Wausau has responded with psychiatric and detention product solutions addressing such risks as:
Attack using blunt or sharp objects,
Wausau psychiatric window products are engineered "from the ground up" for psychiatric applications. Seldom will standard windows fitted with safety glass or polycarbonate prove sufficient.
Tampering with or disabling locking devices,
Exposure to flame or heat,
Chemical or bodily fluid resistance
Ingestion of components, materials or coatings
Abrasion, prying or cutting of frame materials, glazing or hardware
Hanging, either intentional or accidental
However, as noted in the American Institute of Architects' (AIA's) 2006 "Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities:"
"The built environment, no matter how well constructed, cannot be relied on as an absolute preventive measure. Staff awareness of their environment, and the behavior risks and needs of the patients served in the environment are absolute necessities...The environment should be characterized by a feeling of openness with emphasis on natural light."
Codes and standards vary widely with jurisdiction, and consultation with hospital staff is also recommended.
Lisa May, Wausau's health care market manager, is available as an architectural support resource, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet our health care market team and see a sample of these windows at the Healthcare Facilities Expo, at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, September 30 through October 1, 2009.