n case this keeps you up late at night, scientists
have recently unlocked the answer to the age-old
question about which came first: the chicken or
the egg. Do you think there’s no way to tie that
question to the topic of curtainwalls and windows?
“Oh, ye of little faith!” A project manager and I
were discussing completing performance mock-ups
before starting production on job material, and
someone threw in the “which came first” question.
This discussion becomes oxymoronic at times, as
it’s so counter-intuitive. Obviously with new systems,
having a mock-up under one’s belt allows everyone
involved (owner, general contractor (GC), architect,
consultants, glazing sub—and by association, their
suppliers) to have confidence in the design and exe-
cution of the work before starting the job. But, are
mock-ups required when the project team selects an
existing system, and previous testing shows it works?
Successfully completing the performance mockup
BEFORE the job production starts makes perfect
sense, and is often required by specification. It’s
nice to know where the bugs are in custom, one-off
systems, and getting them worked out by integrating
any necessary changes into the production material.
The bugs can be anywhere: in the design, the mate-
rials spec’d to the suppliers, or in the fabrication
or installation techniques. Having a mock-up puts
a spotlight on where the holes (pun UN-intended)
might be, and gives everyone a chance to plug the
holes before starting job production, right?
In either scenario (new or existing system), when
the age-old question about which should happen
first—the “mock-up must be completed” or “produc-
tion needs to start”—comes up, it usually centers on
meeting the jobsite schedule. Consider a likely sce-
nario when requiring the mock-up to be competed
Which Came First?
by Chuck Knickerbocker
6 www.glassguides.com Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal
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