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Ridgelight system brings natural light to manufacturing floor at Bürkert Fluid Controls


Bürkert Fluid Controls relocated its North American headquarters to Huntersville, North Carolina, in 2016. The company decided to build a new, 120,000-square-foot facility that includes administrative, storage, research and development, and manufacturing functions on one campus.


Maximizing daylight was the driving force for the building’s design. It has floor-to-ceiling windows, but they allow sunlight to permeate only so far into the building’s core. To truly bring natural light into the center of the manufacturing operations space, architects opened up whole sections of the roof with skylights.

“At the owner’s request, we designed the building with European principles of open space, views of outside and connection between spaces in mind,” said Paul Garafola of WHN Architects, who designed the facility. “Skylights played a big part in achieving that goal, especially in the production and assembly areas.”

But the right skylight choice wasn’t immediately clear.

“Many skylights are just six-by-six boxes on the roof often made of frosted glass and are put up in an attempt to get some ambient light,” Garafola said. “We wanted something that would truly connect people to the sky even when indoors and create a pleasant, healthy work environment for employees.”

Solution: VMS Ridgelights 25-40°

The VELUX Modular Skylight system eliminates the need for on-site glazing and can be installed quickly in varying weather conditions, which for this project, included freezing rain and snow.

Ridgelights 25-40° have the classic A-frame look: two rows of self-supporting skylights mounted on standard steel profiles. The skylight installer, JP Ross & Co., installed 320 Ridgelight modules on the Bürkert building configured into four rows over the center of the manufacturing space.

Beating the six-week deadline

The general contractor scheduled six weeks for the skylights installation, the typical amount of time needed for large skylight systems. JP Ross & Co. completed the job in just three-and-a-half weeks with a team of only six installers, not even stopping for freezing rain and snow.

“We battled a lot of ice throughout the entire installation with the roof membrane freezing overnight just about every day but developed a rhythm with the crew that abled us to move much faster than expected a lot due to the help of the gantry crane and the modular design with no sealants required,” said John Ross, project manager with JP Ross & Co.

VMS modules are factory sealed and glazed and pop into the frame structure with plug-and-play ease, allowing contractors to more accurately estimate labor for the skylight installation. That means that timelines can stay in place even with freezing rain and cold temperatures, like the conditions the JP Ross & Co. team experienced.

“A big factor to being able to install this system in freezing and wet weather conditions is the fact that the system is caulkless,” said Skip Ross, president of JP Ross & Co. “You cannot install sealants in freezing or wet conditions. This postpones and extends the installation time on many projects, but not this one because the VMS modules come factory sealed.”

The system ships palletized and can be efficiently staged on the roof with a crane.

The happy result

The employees at Bürkert Fluid Controls are thrilled with the new facility, and Garafola attributes that to the holistic design.

“What we did here was a bit outside the norm, especially in a manufacturing building, but I think we’ve created a healthy work environment,” Garafola said. “Thanks to the skylights, employees can have access to natural light throughout their day. It’s a great space to work in.”

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