Volume 39, Issue 7,
The Word on the Street
What Do Architects Really Want?
by Max Perilstein
Making regular calls on architects is truly an unenviable task.
In the past I’ve taken on this adventure, but for this month I decided to talk to some of the architectural sales people I really admire. I asked them about the trends and issues they are seeing with the firms they call on. These folks are just a small cross section of unbelievable architectural contacts who cover our industry—I’m just thankful they even talk to me.
For 25 years, Ted Krantz of PPG has been a major force in the architectural side of our industry. If it’s a major, signature project, there’s a pretty good chance that Krantz was either consulted on it or helped in some sort of way to shape the project. He has seen it all: the ups, the downs, the reflective booms and the solar low-E explosions. According to Krantz, the current trends he is encountering are “glass as clear as possible with the lowest possible solar heat gain; [reducing] glare/further reducing solar heat gain; and paint frit patterns preferred in lieu of tinted glass so [architects] can keep the clear look.”
Krantz went on to tell me that when tints are used, the new blue/green colors are usually the choice, given their soft touch. As for non-product issues, LEED certification, the basic “greening” of our industry is becoming more and more of a requirement.
Next up is Solutia’s Fred Bendana. While Bendana has been in the field only for five years, his energy level, matched with a calm demeanor, is amazing. In fact, he is the only adult I know who has more energy than my 3-year-old son, Zach. He matches his drive with an Ice-Man-like (remember, from Top Gun?) approach, and he works the West to no end.
Bendana agreed with Krantz on the environmental/green effect that is starting to grow.
“One of the major drivers on the West Coast currently is that of sustainability and green products. Post-industrial claims are no longer sufficient. Due to the ever-popular LEED system, post-consumer demand quickly is becoming the protocol,” Bendana said.
He also commented that “architects are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they expect more and more from their products. If they are looking for high-energy-efficiency, superior acoustics are also a must. Speaking of acoustics, there is no doubt that this is the current hot topic. With the boom in healthcare and education in the West, the call for superior acoustic protection in glazing will only continue to grow.”
Lastly, Azon’s Mike Gainey has been pounding on architects’ doors since 1975. He’s seen it all, with most of his career being on the glass side. Gainey’s new mission is educating architects on spacers, specifically thermally improved spacers. While glass and aluminum systems have improved over the years, the air spacer has seen little movement in the way of technology—at least on the mainstream, commercial architectural side. When I asked him to tell me the trends, he sent me an e-mail that I think encompassed every architectural call he’s made in the last 20 years. He obviously is seeing a lot of different issues out there. One of the main items Gainey focused on was increased performance.
“There are certain jobs that require a certain degree of specialty performance, such as museums and hospitals, that are absolutely adamant about having as little interior condensation as they can,” said Gainey.
He also mentioned architects’ desire to have better and more complete information on the Internet, the current array of solar control low-E options available and an appreciation of fabricators who have made efforts work within their community after a period of non-activity.
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