18 www.glassguides.com Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal
t’s a given: early collaboration among the glass
and metal contractor, architect and other mem-
bers of the project team can be critical to execut-
ing the design intent of a building. Glaziers and
architects alike generally agree that input from key
trades, such as the façade contractor, in the earli-
est stages of a project is a major positive.
What isn’t always as clear is what the expectations
are, and, more importantly, the challenges glazing
contractors face when being involved early on.
Importance of Collaboration
As building envelope performance improves,
the façade contractor has become an important
component of the design team.
Thomas Cornellier, chief operating officer of
Maryland-based contract glazier TSI Corporations,
says coordinating the installation of these high-per-
forming façade systems with surrounding trades
and products, such as HVAC and air/vapor barri-
er, is becoming more critical.
“With the pace of change, it is becoming increas-
ingly difficult for a design team to manage the
architectural design (aesthetics) as well as manage
thermal, structural, and even sound performance,”
says Cornellier. “By including a façade contrac-
tor early in the design phase, many issues can be
resolved early that otherwise could have serious
impacts on cost, performance and schedule.”
Kevin Carey of Dynamic Glass, a glazing contrac-
tor in Texas, says that on large jobs where the cur-
tainwall takes up the majority of the façade, there
is a lot of up-front coordination involved from the
notice-to-proceed to actually being in the field.
“It helps expedite things such as approvals,
shop drawings and sign-off on designs,” he says.
“Plus, if they give us basic design intent, we can
help them get to the finish line with the details.
I feel like the industry is seeing more and more
projects that involve this collaborative effort.”
Understanding the Value
While the benefits of this type of collaboration
are undeniable, they do come with sacrifices on
the part of the contract glazier. Glazing contrac-
tors often are asked to perform significant upfront
work using valuable time and resources prior to
actually solidifying the job.
“Developing proposal details, running struc-
tural calculations, performing thermal models
and developing site logistic plans can be very
expensive,” says Cornellier. “This pre-bid work
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. That is a
significant investment into a project that you may
or may not get.”
Carey says he’s typically willing to help the
architect if it’s not extremely labor intensive. But
when his firm has actually secured a design-assist
contract and gets locked in as a subcontractor, “it
allows me to dump way more resources into the
early design effort.”
Another aspect contract glaziers urge architects
to consider is how seemingly simple requests such
as changing glass types or altering a dimension can
have major engineering impacts.
“Putting yourself in the owner or design team’s
shoes, we understand why they want to go through
that diligence,” says Cornellier. “They’re investing
millions of dollars into these projects and they
want to get it right. Our goal is to find balance
and help invest the money wisely into more
Carey agrees that the process is challenged when
there are continuous changes, particularly after the
design has been established and approved.
“There needs to be a hard line in the sand,
when we’re trying to get approvals, where we can’t
make changes beyond a certain point,” he says.
He stresses that it’s critical to make sure adjacent
trades are up to date, as changes in the glazing
contractor’s scope can impact others, such as
The True Value of Glazing Contractors
in the Early Project Stages
by Nick St. Denis
why they want
to go through
want to get
it right. Our
goal is to find