Skip to main content

The new Bell Museum will have special windows to save birds and energy

There's a special pattern printed on the windows to help birds see it.

The University of Minnesota's new Bell Museum of Natural History will be bird-safe. At least in terms of its windows.

Judging by photos the U has shared with GoMN, the new building is going to have some large glass windows. So the university is using a special patterned glass to conserve energy and protect birds.

The glass features screen printed line or dot patterns – that's known as fritted glass. The dots help block out some sun – preventing to much heat from being transferred to the building.

The dots also help birds to see the glass.

"Birds don’t understand glass the same way people do. They fly towards habitat or sky reflected in or seen through windows, often with fatal consequences, the U says.

Building designers worked with Audubon Minnesota – a bird conservation group – to figure out the best way to go about this. Together, they figured out the best pattern to use, and how to source the best low reflectivity glasses.

So the new Bell Museum will be less than 30 percent glass on the exterior – all of which will be fritted.

There's more to protecting birds than having patterned glass. Project designer Doug Bergert says they also had to think about things like interior and exterior lights, as well as landscape design.

The Bell Museum used to be in Minneapolis, but it closed in December. The new facility is in St. Paul, and it's set to open the summer of 2018. The $79 million project will feature expanded galleries, interactive exhibitions, and a 120-seat digital domed planetarium.

Buildings and birds

Between 365 and 988 million birds fatally fly into buildings every year in the U.S., according to 2014 research by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Audubon has a Lights Out campaign every spring and fall that urges people and businesses to commit to turning out lights during migratory seasons. Minneapolis is one of the cities participating.

The group has criticized U.S. Bank Stadium for basically being a giant death trap for birds.

According to a study Audubon conducted, 74 birds crashed into the building during the fall migratory season (Aug. 14 to Nov. 7). Sixty of those died. The society notes it believes the actual number to be a lot higher.

For comparison, the study notes the highest mortality recorded for a single building in Minnesota prior to this averaged about 42 birds.

The group has recommended the Bank take steps to be more bird friendly. One of those steps includes adding patterns to windows.

Next Up

8470850644_ccecdfb7ed_b

Ringo Starr's late cancellation of MN show was because he has COVID-19

The Beatles drummer was due to perform in Minnesota Sunday.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 4.32.58 PM

Fire destroys cafe, two other business properties in downtown Fairfax

A former pizza joint was also destroyed, while two other properties were damaged.

Hennepin County Medical Center, HCMC

Woman dies from injuries in crash that killed her husband, another man

The couple in their 80s died in the collision near Lake Lillian.

CPAP masks

2 Park Nicollet employees convicted of embezzling $500,000

The pair worked at a CPAP clinic in St. Louis Park.

Concert

No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.

Target store

Target gives first look at some of its Deal Days discounts

The Minneapolis retailer is holding its Deal Days event earlier than ever, in an attempt to drive sales after a turbulent year.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 11.03.12 AM

Man dies after crashing truck into western Wisconsin lake

The victim was unable to make it to shore despite being able to get out of his truck.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

Sheriff: Man who didn't return to campsite died in ATV crash

It happened at the Foothills State Forest and Spider Lake ATV Recreation Area

Richard Liu, aka Liu Qiangdong

Chinese billionaire settles lawsuit over alleged rape in Minneapolis

The tech billionaire was accused of sexually assaulting a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

US Navy Flickr - COVID hospital PPE nurse

Frontline worker payments: Over a million Minnesotans to get $487.45

Gov. Tim Walz says the payments will start going out on Wednesday.

19050650853_a4a6377429_k

Ed Sheeran to bring North America stadium tour to Minneapolis

It's the second show announced for the Vikings stadium in 2023.

Related

$300K study reveals how many birds U.S. Bank Stadium has killed

It's one of the top four bird death-causing buildings in downtown Minneapolis.

Never leave a dog in a hot car, but don't break a window if you see one either

You can still help, but let law enforcement handle the situation.

Windows that catch rays – and make solar energy – are getting closer

Minnesota research may provide the key that makes solar windows practical.