The waterfront tracing the fringes of Alexandria, Virginia is a famously tranquil harborside. Lined with public parks, water taxi docks, and restaurant patios, the novelty of the district paints the town with an assuring sense of security.

Though modern and cosmopolitan in temperament, Alexandrians enjoying their quaint paradise have had little reason to stir civic change. So much so that when architectural firm EYA first surveyed the former office of the Sheet Metal Workers International for a possible refashioning, they learned that it had been quietly unoccupied since 1986.


Before forging ahead with a brand new condominium complex, the firm stripped the former union office down to its steel frame in some areas and demolished it entirely in others, allowing this adaptive reuse enough room for a modern redesign. And key to architectural modernization in the Information Age is attention to sustainable engineering practices, which is where Peerless Architectural Windows & Doors entered the picture.

Working under the property owner’s budget, Peerless produced a variety of essential glazing solutions tailored to the project’s specific needs. And as is the case with the unique geography of any individual space, the Oronoco’s location possessed its own set of both opportunities and obstacles that inspired ample creative wiggle-room when it came to utilizing the Peerless proven touch.

As Peerless products sales representative Ned Burns says, “While staying true to the design team’s intent, the Peerless systems were designed and engineered to provide exceptional performance structurally, acoustically, and thermally.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.47.39 AMWhereas common commercial structures typically require “cookie cutter sizes for their windows,” as Peerless president Coby Jones puts it, “Oronoco needed very large sizes” to meet their eco-conscious objective. And one of the first things you recognize when laying eyes on the Oronoco Waterfront Residences, beside its stair-shaped profile, is the large glazing job occupying much of the structure’s body. This adorns the otherwise modestly postured building with a slice of modern class. It’s also central to the required sustainability measures that made the waterfront space a piece of extraordinary architecture.

“Without compromising structural performance, Peerless was able to provide window spans as large as 74” wide by 116” tall,” Peerless sales engineer Jason Davis says. While allowing for enticing views of the serene Alexandria Harbor, this large glazing also draws maximal amounts of natural sunlight into the Oronoco. “This natural daylight will reduce the energy costs because not as many lights will need to be on in the residences,” Davis says.

The Oronoco glazing has also been noted for its treatment of acoustic insulation. Hardly three miles away from the condominium complex sits the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is the source of continual noise projected by the frequent comings and goings of air travel busybodies.

Last year alone, the airport handled over 21 million passengers, an uptick from the record-setting 20 million from the year before. Burns details, “The glazing that was selected for this project was a Low-E coating with a high visible light transmittance.” The coating is essentially invisible, so daylight is allowed to flourish as heat transfer is greatly diminished. Meanwhile, “specialty IG’s and innovative frame and glazing packages” were deployed to deaden the uninvited sound from the airport and assist in evening out distribution of heat among the building envelope. Through the complex frame design, applying thermal isolators, and “incorporating an 0.030 inch laminated interlayer while varying the density of the glass,” a laudably high STC 39 (Sound Transmission Class) level was reached.

download (1)The STC 39 acoustical glazing design extends to the glass used to barricade the condominium balcony areas, but as with the rest of the Oronoco complex, this function is just one of many features encapsulated within a single Peerless piece.

The barricade glazing also comes fully tempered and heat-treated. And as with the acoustical rating, Peerless aimed high at fulfilling the ideals in terms of thermal efficiency, attaining a U-value rating (the metric used to measure heat flow resistance) of below the required 0.4. “The most distinguishing feature of the window system for the Oronoco,” however, Burns insists, “is the fixed and operable openings.” Advancing aesthetics and green cred together as one, Burns highlights, “the window-wall system was designed to maximize the glass and minimize the aluminum framing,” a feature best demonstrated by the “fixed, project-out awning windows.” Burns also notes that the terrace doors were required to meet the standards of the Fair Housing guidelines, trumpeting, “Peerless was one of the few manufacturers able to provide these doors with a 1/2” ADA sill while maintaining 12 pounds of water performance.”

The eco-conscious competence exemplified by Peerless’s work on the Oronoco Waterfront Residence is embodied also by their LEED Silver certification. By employing characteristic Peerless qualities such as high-performing architectural aluminum windows, Low-E glass, unparalleled thermal performance (still while maintaining large openings), the Peerless team was able to gift Oronoco St. with the most desirable condominium residence in Alexandria.

“All parties including the owner, designers, general contractor, and consultants have shared their pleasure in the efforts put forth by Peerless,” Burns points out. As far as why it’s been so widely viewed as among their most successful adaptive repositioning efforts, Jason Davis believes it’s just simply by doing what any good business does. “We work together and listen to our customers. We are focused on designing the most innovative window solutions.” The result of such diligence is that even the residents not living in the Oronoco Waterfront enjoy the luxury of its resting architectural charm.


  • Architectural Energy Corporation;
  • Lighting Designer: Coventry Lighting;
  • Polysonics;
  • Simpson Gumpertz & Heger;
  • General Contractor: James G. Davis Construction Company;
  • Michael Blades & Assoc.; Ltd.
  • Interior Designer: SR/A Interior Arch. & Design;
  • Civil Engineer: Bowman Consulting Group., Ltd.;
  • Landscape Architect: Studio 39;
  • Tadjer-Cohen-Edelson;
  • Provectus, Inc.

For more information visit: Peerless USA