A Modern Polycarbonate Canopy at Georgia World Congress Center

Posted in Construction & Architecture
A Modern Polycarbonate Canopy at Georgia World Congress Center
By Phil Lahr, Business Unit Manager - DIY/RMM Products


GWCC’s old entrance canopy, built in the 1980s, was leaking and had reached the end of its life. The architects wanted a high-performing, leak-proof system that would excel under Atlanta’s variety of weather conditions.

The canopy needed to balance natural light and shade. Shade is an essential element of any indoor or outdoor space plan. It helps regulate the temperature and creates a sense of privacy. Designing shade into an architectural plan requires a delicate balance, too much can leave a space feeling cold and unwelcoming, too little and the space can grow uncomfortably warm.  With the right balance of natural light and shade, an environment will feel comfortable year-round.

Glass roofing options were considered. However, the weight difference between polycarbonate and glass, the large spans polycarbonate sheets can cover, and the aesthetics and ease of balancing light and shade with a polycarbonate system convinced the architect that polycarbonate was the only choice.


SUNGLAZE is an architectural system comprised of integrated standing seam solid polycarbonate sheets and aluminum fastening profiles. The 4mm thick polycarbonate sheets are strong enough to handle the large spans of the GWCC canopy while the unique standing seam connections float freely in the extrusions allowing stress free expansion and contraction of the panels during thermal changes and a warrantable watertight connection.

SUNGLAZE system’s profiles rise only 1 1/6” above the panel which is a full inch lower than the closest alternative answering the need for a true low-profile system.  It was this desirable aesthetic along with the ability to produce and install very long length panels and profiles, that convinced the Architects to choose SUNGLAZE. Miami Dade Certification and additional testing provided proof of the system’s capabilities.

The 44-foot slope was designed in two sections with the 25-foot upper section overlapping the lower 19-foot run. Palram’s engineers created a solution that would be self-supporting and offer minimal visual impact as well as optimal water-tightness.  The 154 foot wide canopy’s extremities are terminated utilizing a unique end profile design, the entire solution ensured a water tight seal and optimal connection between the SUNGLAZE system and the metal support structure.

With a congested city construction site logistics had to be planned and staged efficiently to ease the construction process.  The Sunglaze system was factory cut to size prior to delivery to eliminate field processing and the SUNGLAZE panels were then palletized according to their locations on the canopy to reduce onsite handling and transportation.

To balance shade and light, the Architect and Palram’s engineering team designed alternate sections of White Opal and Clear panels providing visitors with the right mix of shaded and un-shaded natural light. More than 99% of UV radiation is blocked by the polycarbonate sheets, ensuring a safer environment for visitors.

The addition of LED lighting compliments the SUNGLAZE polycarbonate bringing the canopy to life at night with a warm glow that adds visual appeal and lends a welcoming vibe to the convention center.  The white polycarbonate panels are uniquely suited to catch and convey the lighting delivering on the architects vision.


The new Polycarbonate canopy at the GWCC was a collaborative effort between three parties: The architecture firm NELSON Worldwide, the fabricator and installer Panel Built Inc. of Blairsville, Georgia, and Palram Americas, the manufacturer of the SUNGLAZE architectural roof-covering system who provided Engineering, Design & Logistics support to meet the architectural specifications.

By engaging with open lines of communication the parties were able to incorporate product selection into the design intent early in the process enabling the Architects vision to craft an original statement making space that is welcoming, comfortable, and well-lit while offering premium performance values and longevity.

About Palram Americas

Palram Americas is an end-to-end, state-of-the-art thermoplastics manufacturer based in the Lehigh Valley, PA. For 60 years, Palram has provided high-quality polycarbonate & PVC solutions used in countless markets spanning construction and architecture, sign and display, agriculture, safety & security, transportation, DIY and outdoor living.

Whether you’re a contractor, fabricator, designer, architect, printer, or even a homeowner interested in DIY projects, Palram’s range of polycarbonate and PVC solutions will help transform your vision into reality. Together, we will build on.

To learn about Palram’s architectural roofing solutions, see here

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