Volume 26, Issue 4 - July/August 2012


Product Talk

Architects Talk About the Glass Products They’re
Using as Well as Ones They’d Like to See

by Ellen Rogers


Architects need to design buildings that look good. They also need to design ones that meet high energy performance criteria. So, when asked about some of the latest glazing products that have crossed both their blueprints and minds, it’s not surprising that the products architects talk about relate to both aesthetics and performance.

Jenda Michl, principal of Vertu Studio in Los Angeles, has worked on small-scale, detail-oriented architectural projects. One of his recent glazing projects, in fact, was a glass awning he designed and built for a residence in Boulder, Colo.

Other architectural firms such as FXFOWLE in New York take on large-scale projects that incorporate massive amounts of glass, such as the Javits Center renovation currently underway in New York. Gustavo Rodriguez, CODIA, LEED, is a senior designer with FXFOWLE currently working on the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Since both Michl and Rodriguez work with glazing in various different projects and designs, we spoke with them about some of the new technologies and new glass products they’ve seen.

Gustavo Rodriguez
What are some of the newest glazing products you’ve worked with? We are using two advanced glazing products–Solera by Advanced Glazings Ltd. and SeriousGlass from Serious Windows–on the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, a new building we designed with SWBR Architects on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, N.Y.

How did you learn about these products? RIT, our client, wanted a new academic building that maximized daylight while at the same time maximized thermal performance. We conducted a lot of research as to which products would meet the client’s needs aesthetically and economically, but most importantly for a LEED platinum building, energy efficiency aspects.

What are the features/benefits you like about these products? The Solera products are translucent, nanogel-filled insulating glass units that are designed to fit into standard curtainwall or window systems. They offer high insulation and energy efficiency, and greatly reduce glare while allowing diffused light into the space. However, you have to keep in mind that since it is translucent it has impacts on views to the outside. SeriousGlass is a high-performance insulating product that increases energy efficiency while allowing daylight into the space. It’s a great solution for buildings with climate and site challenges since it offers such flexibility.

Is there anything you are looking for in glazing products you’ve not yet found? There are many good glazing products out there to meet the needs of our projects and clients, but it is always a challenge to find one with the right visual characteristics and high energy performance. It seems you always have to compromise on one of these. I would like to find a glass product that meets both.

Jenda Michl
What are some of the newest glazing products with which you’ve worked? Custom printing on glass that’s either clear or frosted. This can be done with or without white ink so that where you want it to be opaque it is, and where you want the light to come through it can.

How did you learn about these products? A good friend of mine does the printing, a company called AoSA LLC in Huntington Beach, Calif. I have been pushing him toward the architectural market for some time, as he does this printing on metal, carpet, wood, tile, literally any material. He has two printing processes available, depending on the job. He does both dye sublimation and state-of-the-art UV prints. Neither method emits any toxins; his print shop doesn’t have any of the chemicals and odors one associates with the industry. For the dye sub process, even the dye is water-based. One thing that sets him apart from the others is the ability to pre- and post-process for durability, both wear and tear as well as sun exposure--without harsh chemicals and/or VOC emissions. He is plugged in with the printer manufacturers, essentially beta testing their newest, best machines.

What are the features/benefits you like about these products? Total customization. It allows graphics on surfaces we’ve never really thought of doing them on before. For example, a glass shower enclosure can be an integral part of a bathroom motif/design scheme. It also works on large pieces of glass, whether on exterior/storefront windows or as beautiful partitions inside. All glass railings can also be decorated, either indoors or out. Glass countertops/tabletops (such as what is often done over a tablecloth). The list goes on and on.

Is there anything you are looking for in glazing products you’ve not yet found? Less expensive mounting hardware and a greater selection of it. On my glass awning, I had to custom fabricate one (expensive piece) and for the other I used a high-end shower door hinge (which was also expensive). Also, with my friend’s glass printing, I anticipate using it myself and would love a go-to site for such hardware.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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