Interior Vs. Exterior Vestibule Design

Custom Glass Wall And Canopy - Harbor Point - Stamford CT

All glass vestibules provide both aesthetic and performance benefits for commercial buildings. They are often a great way to create a “jewel box” entrance feature on a building, while helping to minimize the heat loss, or heat gain, at the front entrance.

Vestibules are typically designed as an exterior feature that extends out from the face of the building, or as an interior structure that is flush with the face of the building, and a structure within the lobby. The first consideration is one of aesthetics, which has significant impacts on design and structure.


The exterior vestibule provides the most dramatic impact at the entrance of the building. As shown below, the exterior vestibule becomes its own design feature and can make a big impact on an otherwise simple building exterior.

Point Supported Glass Vestibule - Wistar Institute - Philadelphia PA
Harbor Point, S4

The interior vestibule can be virtually unseen from the street, and thus makes less of a visual impact from outside. The interior lobby view, however, can be quite dramatic.

Glass Wall and Vestibule - 1350 I Street - Washington D.C.
1350 I Street, Washington DC – Exterior

Structural Glass Vestibule - 1350 I Street - Washington D.C..
1350 I Street, Washington DC – Interior

Glass Vestibule Design and Structural Considerations

A lobby wall structure with an interior vestibule is significantly easier to design, since the exterior wall handles the windload, rain and snow, (usually) without requiring these loads or conditions to be handled by the vestibule. In addition to the simpler structural design, the interior vestibule also does take additional space exterior space if lot lines or building envelope dimensions are a consideration.

The exterior vestibule must manage windloads, snowloads, rain, uplift, etc., like any other exterior structure. Different consideration must therefore be given to this structure and how it integrates with the building. Exterior vestibules contain a roof that acts as a skylight and canopy. This means that in addition to snowload considerations, a drainage plan or gutter system for rainfall must be integrated.

In the end, the choice of glass vestibule design will likely come down to exterior building aesthetics and space considerations. From there, the design approach will focus on the creation of an interior structure with typical deadload and deflection considerations, or an exterior structure with weather-related design considerations. For more inspiration for your next project please view our recent designs on our glass vestibule projects page.

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