Window shades reduce glare, solar heat gain, even light pollution. But shades are much more flexible than you might realize. Here are some alternative uses of shades that have nothing to do with solar control.

Cover service windows
Museums, sports facilities, and other venues often provide food, ticketing, and other services through a service window opening. Metallic barriers often separate large openings from the main facility when those areas are not in use. A more aesthetic solution is a window shade. While this can be done in larger openings such as those in a food court using a shade is especially appropriate in smaller areas.

Two examples are the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site in interpretive center in east-central Indiana, and Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Both use Draper shades to provide privacy for those working in a food or beverage service area, while indicating to possible customers that food is not currently being served.

Reduce echo
The non-profit group Noise Pollution Clearinghouse ( says noise—including reverberation—is one of the most pervasive pollutants in today’s built environment. Acoustical shading reduces reverberation (i.e. echo) inside a room, as well as the overall level of sound in a space. Acoustic treatments are already used to improve the acoustics within a room by using sound-absorptive materials. Echoing caused by sound reflecting off windows can also now be addressed, even as glare and solar heat gain are reduced.

Boston University’s Mugar Library.

Underscore messaging
In museums, historical sites, and even some businesses, the windows can seem like an interruption or a distraction from the message of the facility. Places like Boston University’s Mugar Library use graphic shades to overcome this. Artwork, quotes, and other elements bring the windows into use as extra space to more get information and concepts across without taking up valuable wall or display space. They can also assist with space separation and wayfinding in a way that folds neatly into the overall design of a space.

Provide privacy
Want privacy? Buy shades. That’s the gist of a newspaper article about a Tribeca family who lost a legal battle against a photographer. He had taken photographs of the family—and others—in their apartments without their consent or knowledge. The photos were shot through their rear windows using a telephoto lens. In the photos, they are performing everyday chores, taking naps, all the mundane things that make up an average day. The people photographed only discovered what had happened when the photos were part of a New York gallery exhibition called “The Neighbors.”

The family lost their legal battle, mainly because the judge felt that the photos were done as art and, thus, not illegal.

You can click here to read more.

Address safety issues
When the school corporation in Glen Ellyn, Illinois decided it was time to build four new elementary schools, classroom windows had to be furnished with motorized shades. The main reason for this is rather sobering. The shades are actually part of school safety planning.

In the event schools need to be locked down, teachers can quickly throw a switch to lower the shades so movements can’t be seen from outside the classroom. This is meant to provide some element of protection from observation by potential school shooters. They are motorized so teachers don’t have to waste time running to the windows to pull chains on clutch-operated shades.

Window shades can be used for much more than just solar control. Click here to visit our website and explore the many ways our shades can help you solve problems.

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