Volume 21, Issue 2 - April/May/June 2007

Glass Tech
How to Complete a Mock-Up
By Jim W. Sealy

Mock-ups serve two distinct purposes: aesthetics and functionality. Early in the design stage, architects frequently will discuss the value of mock-ups with their client and convince the client to authorize the additional service expenditure to accomplish the design, construction and testing of a mock-up.

First Things First
Once the decision is made to incorporate a mock-up, the architect immediately sets about designing the system the contractors will erect. The prudent architect works closely with the contractor in the construction process so that he can gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges. This also allows the architect to readily observe if the design can be improved technically, or made more simple. 

In this respect, mock-ups have always proven to be time and money savers and they are invaluable design tools because they eliminate problems that may be encountered in the field. Nothing is more devastating than to have a building completed and occupied and then discover that a part of the building is going to fail. 

Facing Failure
If the test does fail, then the remedy begins with a forensics process and both contractor and architect must dismantle the mock-up and find the reason for the failure. It could be that a change in a particular material, or component, caused the failure or it could be that a particular component was misused by the designer, or misapplied by the contractor. Therefore, the participation of the architect from beginning to end is essential.

The Visionary
Because most architects participate in the complete process from beginning to end, the incident rate of failure in mock-ups is very low. This does not mean that the architect is essential to the actual work of the contractor; it’s just that the architect has been the visionary who conceived the design and has the mental understanding of how things will go together in order to solve any potential problems while the work is in progress. Having mock-up testing done just makes this process a lot more convenient and when the mock-up is proven to be successful, the contractor can work with a lot more speed. 

Jim W. Sealy is an architect and consultant who heads up his own Dallas-based firm. He is also a member of the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal Editorial Board. Mr. Sealy’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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