News Analysis: Glass Railings & Daylighting  
Glass Railings Have their  
Place in Green Design  
Wagner’s glass  
railing system helps  
maximize daylighting  
inside the Lancaster  
General Hospital in  
lass has carved a big niche in the green build-  
ing world for a variety of reasons, one of which  
is its ability to transfer natural light into a space.  
“What architects don’t want to see is lots and  
lots of metal. They want transparency and that  
visual impact. They like the idea of uninterrupted  
views. They like the idea of frameless systems.”  
This has put a premium on ensuring these  
systems, and the glass in them, are designed for  
safety and adhere to stringent codes. For exam-  
ple, laminated glass is being promoted in many  
codes, and a cap rail on top of the glass is often  
“One thing architects like is clean lines,” says  
Chatfield, noting that the metal and glass indus-  
tries should collaborate on solutions to meet  
design demands.  
In addition to the visual component and  
daylighting benefits, Chatfield says architects are  
inquiring more and more about the sustainable  
design of his company’s products. Wagner’s alu-  
minum base shoe, for example, is a green product  
that qualifies for LEED credits.  
While the exterior of the building does much of  
the heavy lifting, glass is increasingly being used  
on the interior for this purpose.  
This goes beyond the application of interior  
glass walls and partitions.  
Dan Stachel, vice president of SC Railing Co.,  
says the use of glass railings continues to gain  
popularity as architects seek options to maximize  
natural light flow within their projects. “Shifting  
architectural trends coupled with advances in the  
laminated glass technology have greatly improved  
the popularity of glass railing systems,” he says.  
Stachel adds that while these systems have for  
years provided architects with a variety of options  
to enhance the appeal of a space, “the addition of  
LEED credits for daylighting makes glass railing  
an even more compelling option for designers.”  
Andrew Chatfield of The Wagner Companies  
says he’s seen an uptick in architect demand for  
“That plays into it, as well,” he says. “They  
want a product that is sustainable and can be  
glass railing systems that give designers “the ability recycled.”  
to drag that light, kicking and screaming, down  
through the building.”  
The desire for more transparency and cleaner  
The increased implementation of glass railing  
systems into modern architectural interior design  
means manufacturers have to adapt to architects’  
sightlines, he says, means less metal. “We went from unique designs, often on a case-by-case basis.  
a post and rail system, which there are many of  
around, to a metal railing system with glass infill,”  
says Chatfield. “Then with the advent of clamping  
systems, whether it’s a wet-glazed system or a dry-  
glazed system, that it brings it out even more.  
“With our experience designing project-specific  
systems, coupled with our existing architectural  
railing lines, we feel we can provide a system to  
match nearly any project’s unique requirements,”  
says Stachel. AGG  
Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal