The USF Dons Redefine Game Day with Generation 4 Acoustic Glass Wall

USF Dons Sobrato Center acoustic glass wall

University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university in the heart of the city, is home to the oldest basketball venue in the West Coast Conference. Built in 1958 and named in tribute to the USF alumni who served in WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the War Memorial Gym was due for modernization. With the generous donation from philanthropists John and Susan Sobrato, the gym renovation has just been completed in Fall 2021, and the result is a rebranded, multi-use Sobrato Center with the largest interior acoustic glass wall installation.

Sobrato Center USF

image: Hornberger + Worstell

Home of USF Dons, the team’s name, aptly represents the core values of the institution. DON is a Spanish abbreviation of De Origen Noble or “of Noble origin.” As stated, “all USF students and alumni are of noble origin who share in a long tradition for a passion for learning so that we may better understand the past, clarify the present, and anticipate the future.” Fittingly, the masked and mustachioed mascot is Don Francisco, a subtle nod to the first mayor of the city, pre-statehood, Don Francisco de Haro.

Design-Forward Renovation with Flexible Acoustic Glass Wall

NanaWall acoustic glass wall at USF

Multi-Use Event Space Reimagined

In true noble style, to benefit athletics and the USF community, the Sobrato Center now functions as a modern multi-use facility that houses a Sports Hall of Fame Museum, state-of-the-art audio-visual screens and interactive scoreboard, new seating, and a new premium spectator level. The architectural firm, Hornsberger + Worstell, designed a renovation/addition that vastly improved the facility's access to natural daylight. The addition on the backside of the circa-1950’s building now serves as the main entrance to the gymnasium, creating greater unification with the campus as a whole. The new façade is one of glass and steel, further enhanced with skylights overhead. The new Sobrato Club Level provides an A+ vantage of the court below and the adjacent hospitality lounge provides a full-service experience for club members while also providing a year-round space for events.

The New Sobrato Club Level at USF with NanaWall interior operable glass wall

Prepping for Game Day with Acoustical Design Solution

To further maximize all the daylight captured by the new exterior facade, the architects specified an interior operable glass wall divider between the hospitality lounge and the club seating. Knowing that this divider needed to provide egress and span over one hundred feet while also functioning as an acoustical barrier, Honsberger + Worstell turned to NanaWall Systems as the solution provider. The Generation 4 Folding Glass Walls by NanaWall product family had the perfect solution—NW Acoustical 645. This Generation 4 acoustic glass wall system is capable of acoustical buffering up to a unit STC 45. For this project, the acoustic glass wall was supplied with double insulated STC 42 laminated glass to produce a unit STC of 40. Additionally, the Generation 4 product family takes aesthetics to the next level with the slimmest panel frames available allowing for maximum glass for daylight to reach deep into the interior.

larger interior folding system in the world NanaWall

Flexible Stacking Options Optimize Space

The NanaWall Generation 4 acoustic glass wall is floor supported and capable of unlimited widths with the integration of FourFold Panel Sets. To reach a width of 102 feet, the configuration of 5L 4LR 4LR 4LR 4LR 4LR 4LR 5R, totaling 34 panels in all, was specified. The symmetrically designed system opens at the middle and conveniently stacks into custom-designed alcoves that keep all the panels out of sight on game day. Should the event center require the system to be closed, two swing doors were designed at strategic locations in the aisle to provide the necessary entry and exit points. The commercial-grade swing door panels are furnished with 10” kickplates and lever handles with return to meet the requirements.

NanaWall FourFold panel sets in acoustic glass wall

The left/right FourFold Panel Sets make this large span possible, and they help create a truly flexible interior operable glass wall system. The panels can be opened in the middle, at one end, both ends or entirely disappear into the alcoves. This allows the commercial space to have the necessary control over space management which is beneficial to an environment that will be used beyond game day to host various events throughout the year.

NanaWall ADA-compliant sill at USF Sobrato Center

ADA-Compliant, Smooth Transitions

The NW Acoustical 645 interior operable glass wall rides on propriety stainless steel rollers with a Gothic arch wheel design. This unique design includes 2-point contact on the stainless steel rail for the smoothest operation in the industry. Designed specifically for interior applications, the surface mounted flush sill is ADA-compliant and when installed with the finished concrete flooring, has a minimal 15/16” grove to create a seamless transition between the zones. Even with a height of 10 feet tall, the 34 panels glide effortlessly on the track, making the opening and closing of the system a breeze.

Largest interior folding glass wall in the world NanaWall

Largest Interior Folding Glass Wall Installation in the World

With the conscientious design provided by Honsberger + Worstell and the philanthropic support by the Sobrato family, the USF Dons’ gymnasium was transformed into the modern-day while still preserving the legacy and midcentury architecture of the past. “It’s a really cool, old building. There’s a lot of tradition from the past,” Joan McDermott, Director of Athletics, said. “To be able to honor that past, tie it in, and make it much more modern — it’s just really great for everyone. When people come in for the first time, I want them to feel that.” The new Sobrato Club Level offers the highest of game-watching luxury while never missing a beat through the acoustically rated glass wall system. With the sound control of STC 40, it keeps the roar of the patrons and the squeak of the shoes to a mere mummer in the lounge when the interior operable glass wall is closed. As a NanaWall product, NW Acoustical 645 is independently tested to perform with results for acoustics, operational force, forced entry, and over 20,000 opening and closing cycles that assure the durability needed for this newly revamped San Francisco sports facility. USF is not only proud of its new Sobrato Center but can also be proud to be the home of the largest interior folding glass wall installation in the world.

Learn how other schools in the country leverage NanaWall acoustic glass wall systems to create flexible and quiet academic environments on our applications page!

Glazing Company: USGA, Inc.

Contractor: Cahill