Volume 26, Issue 4 - July/August 2012


So Trendy!

Top Trends from Architects at the AIA Show
by Penny Stacey


The recent American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Annual Convention and Design Expo in Washington, D.C., drew architects from across the country, seeking out the latest tools to make their designs the most unique, innovative and exciting out there. Among these was a variety of glass and glazing products, framing systems and more. Read on for the top trends from this year’s show, held May 17-19 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Kawneer offered several new products designed to focus on high performance. Among these was its Trifab 601 series framing system, which features a 6-inch depth for a wide range of building applications.

“It’s a 6-inch version of our traditional 4 ½-inch framing system, and the reason for this system is twofold,” said Donnie Hunter, product marketing manager, storefronts, entrances and framing. “We’re trying to carry forward the thermal performance that most building owners and architects are looking for. This system is making use of our dual thermal break.”

The system can be glazed from either inside or out to meet specific project requirements. (

In the area of fire-rated performance, Safti First displayed its new SuperLite II-XL with Starphire Ultra-Clear Glass, developed in conjunction with PPG. The product is designed to provide maximum fire and impact safety with hose stream from 45 to 120 minutes while meeting ASTM E-119 requirements. The addition of Starphire Ultra-Clear Glass by PPG to SuperLite II-XL allows architects to create safe, fire-rated spaces with clarity and transparency, according to the company. (

Efco displayed its new 8750 XD unitized curtainwall. “One thing that makes this product unique is our patent-pending Duracast strut,” said Erik Sutton, manager of product marketing. “This strut design helps us achieve a .31 U-factor. This product also is available with popular options including an AW-rated vent that has parallel armed hinges.” (

YKK AP America featured the “Energy-Saving Tour” at its booth, where it introduced its new YUW 750 XT unitized wall system for low- to mid-rise commercial buildings, part of its enerGfacade product line. The system is designed with a U-factor of 30 and can be configured for multi-span curtainwall applications, single-span ribbon wall and combination elevations.

“We’re able to meet the new energy codes [with this system],” said Mike Turner, vice president of marketing at YKK. The system also features rapid dry-in and a 25-pound water rating. (

Pulp Studio introduced its new Ombra insulating glass units, developed for exterior glazing applications. The product is available with either a UV-stabilized honeycomb core or an architectural wire mesh, both of which are designed for shading performance. (

Advanced Glazing
PPG Industries displayed its SunClean low-maintenance glass, among several other launches, which has been available to the residential market for some time but now has been released for the commercial arena as well. The glass features photocatalytic properties that break down materials on the surface and allow water to wash it clear. The company also featured its Suntuitive product, developed through a partnership with Pleotint, which adapts shading based on the temperature. “Architects want better performance and aesthetics,” said company representative Joanne Funyak. (

Guardian Industries featured several advanced glazing products, including its SunGuard photovoltaic glass units, developed in conjunction with Pythagoras Solar and Soladigm dynamic glass.

“This is a really cool thing that everyone’s been waiting for,” said Jim Pape of Soladigm, who was on-hand in Guardian’s booth in light of the recently announced partnership. “We’re working to develop a complete solution for glaziers,” added Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass products at Guardian Industries. (

The NSG Group introduced a product so new that it hasn’t even been named yet. The product actually is a mirror pane coating that is used in police buildings, anywhere with surveillance, but now is being used on clear glass products. (

Following the advanced glazing trend, Cristacurva displayed its innovative Adapt-E-Glass, which changes from light to dark automatically based on the temperature of the glass. (

Daylighting—and the search for it—also drew architects’ interest throughout the show. Among suppliers displaying products in this category was CPI Daylighting Inc. The company featured its Intela-Sun-Controlled Daylighting system, which is ideal for commercial, institutional and military installations, according to Ted Bratton, the company’s East Coast sales representative.

“You set your light level, and it monitors and adjusts automatically,” said Bratton. “We work with a lot of architects on daylighting.” (

Saint-Gobain, which is in the process of acquiring Sage Electrochromics, featured its electrochromic microlouvers, which are available with both fixed and dynamic daylight control. “They’re basically inserts,” said company representative Roger Watson. “You can allow different amounts of light to come in.” (

Sage, which had its own booth, displayed its electrochromic tintable glass. The glass tints automatically or on demand to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions and can enable users to control sunlight and heat without shades or blinds. (

Glass Walls
Glass walls and large openings certainly were on the rise at AIA. Among these, Panda Windows and Doors displayed its operable wall system with a Zebra wood exterior frame. Its wall systems are custom-made and are available up to 12 feet in height, for both commercial and residential customers, according to Cooper Burenen, director of operations for the company. (

Klein USA Inc. also displayed its glass walls. “[Architects are looking for] the light-sharing quality of the glass and the fact that you can build rooms with four walls of glass,” Paul Witherby, business development manager, said. “The biggest thing is sharing light between the spaces in both residential and commercial [settings]… Everyone needs more sunlight to feel better.”

When it comes to hardware, Witherby said he found that less is more for architects. “They want to see more glass, less hardware,” he added. “We come from a history of post and beam, but it’s expensive, it’s heavy and it’s old-fashioned.” (

Schott North America also launched its new modular wall system, which utilizes extruded aluminum profiles and offers diverse design and set-up options. “The modular nature really makes it a design tool,” said Barbara Augenblick, North American director of marketing communications for the company. (

No matter what architects are searching for product-wise, one thing is for certain—they want options. And suppliers from across the industry were out in full force to provide these.

Among these, JE Berkowitz displayed its Renovate window retrofit system, which uses an interior glazing method of hermetically sealing a factory-made insulating glass unit to the existing monolithic glass window with a warm-edge triseal spacer.

Bob Price, director of sales and marketing for the company, said his company worked has with both PPG and Edgetech IG, a part of Quanex, to develop the Renovate system and he expects its use to continue to soar. “We feel as it gains momentum it will be used in applications where both time and money are a concern,” said Price.

He also spent a good bit of the show simply talking to architects about how suppliers can help them “achieve their vision,” he said.

“They want to see stuff that’s creative, innovative and cutting-edge and makes buildings more appealing to their tenants,” he said. (

Viracon introduced several new glazing options, including its ClearPoint point-supported glass solution. “We’re minimizing sitelines and making the maximum view so much larger,” said Kevin Anez, director of marketing and product management. The company also displayed its Cybershield product, designed to keep unwanted radio frequencies from traveling through the glass. (

On the hardware side, Assa Abloy’s innovative RV display on the AIA show floor introduced attendees to a number of available pulls and handles for commercial glass doors. These were designed not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also economical. “A lot of times architects want something that looks nice but doesn’t cost more,” said Assa Abloy’s Emily Paetch. (

ITW-Buildex debuted its Teks Select system, a selectively hardened fastener designed specifically for the curtainwall market. According to J. Schneider, national marketing manager, the fasteners are quick to drill and tap. (

In the area of panels and canopies, Mapes Architectural Panels featured both products at its booth. “[We offer] basically an infill panel for the glass and glazing industry,” said Jay Marshall, president. “We market and push a high R-value for our panels.”

The company’s canopies are all-aluminum and are pre-fabricated for both the United States and Caribbean, according to Matt Parde, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We’re [also] getting into glass canopies,” he said. (

The Fun Stuff
The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Annual Convention and Design Expo always features a range of new products for the industry but often there’s also some fun stuff on the show floor that you can’t help but view. Among these this year was the exhibit of a company called Glass Toilet Cubicles—and the company makes exactly that. “This is the future,” said Majid Bonakdarpour, a representative of the Boston-based company. “This is very high-end.”

Bonakdarpour pointed out that, over the years, luxury bathrooms in high-end hotels and other high-end public areas have developed into something more than a basic bathroom. “But toilet partitions still look the same,” he said.

To combat this, the company has launched its own line of glass toilet cubicles for high-end applications.

Architect Insight
Architects at the show left with information on both new products and education.

“My only criticism would be to extend the hours on the show floor,” said Teresa Hueg, project architect for Wisnewski Blair & Associates in Alexandria, Va. “By the time you’re done with the classes, the expo’s over.”

“The exhibits [were] quite overwhelming in size, and I thought the sophistication of the displays was quite high-quality,” added David Salmela with Salmela Architect in Duluth, Minn.

Next year’s AIA Convention and Design Expo is scheduled for June 20-22 in Denver. Visit for details.

Looking for More? Scan the Microsoft Tag at right with your mobile phone to view our slide show from the American Institute of Architects’ Annual Convention and Design Expo. Also, visit for video coverage from the event.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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