Volume 39, Issue 10, October 2004

Security, Aesthetics and Design
PGC Fall Symposium Takes on the Glass Triumvirate
by Brigid O'Leary

“It’s important we make this technology work because it saves people’s lives.”
When W. Lee Evey, president of the Design Build Insti-tute and program director for the Pentagon Renovation Program made that statement, he met with applause that was both solemn and revered.

Evey was one of the keynote speakers at the Protective Glazing Council’s (PGC) Fall Symposium, held at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History September 1-2, 2004. This year’s theme, Architecture for the Future: Security, Aesthetics and Design, brought together members of the glass and glazing industry to discuss these three elements currently guiding the use of glass and glazing.

Gaining Government Ground

The setting was apropos. In June, the Protecting People First Foundation honored the Smithsonian Institution for its “commitment to protect employees and the millions of Americans who visit Smithsonian museums each year,” and members of the PGC gathered to discuss further aspects of protecting people—and themselves. Wednesday’s session began with keynote speaker Dr. Jane Alexander, deputy director of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), who described the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) purpose, what HSARPA does and what the glass and glazing industry needed to know about getting involved and working with both agencies.

HSARPA’s mission, Alexander said, is to engage the private sector in research and design.

“We don’t do things. You do things. We fund it,” she said, explaining that the agency is set up to help customers anticipate the future and to prepare for it. One way HSARPA tries to do that is by soliciting white papers and proposals for different projects (such as the, Advanced Container Security Device Program to create the next generation of maritime shipping container security device with multiple sensing modalities) and awarding funding through the Small Business Innovation Research program. (Businesses can find more information about active solicitations on the HSARPA website, www.hsarpabaa.com.) During the question and answer period, someone inquired as to unsolicited white papers and proposals. Alexander indicated that the agency does accept them, though a company would be well advised to check first to see if its paper or proposal fits a current or upcoming solicitation, which would give it the appropriate audience.

At the close of her presentation, PGC president Scott Haddock bestowed Alexander an honorary membership in the organization.

That afternoon, the topic of conversation returned to government-based work, with a panel discussion by Mignon Anthony and Cheryl Duckett-Moody, both of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Wade Belcher and Nick Summers of the General Services Administration.

Among the suggestions for landing a government bid was forming alliances with other companies of similar expertise and common interest, particularly those with which a working relationship would be beneficial if that particular combination is chosen to handle the job. Companies interested in working with the government were also advised to follow up on appropriate sources with vigilance before and during bidding. Duckett-Moody explained that the government uses FedBizOpps (www.fedbizopps.gov) to announce bidding opportunities and the awards thereof, especially for jobs budgeted to cost $25,000 or more. She further explained that from her experience, there are two ways for a business to be considered for a contracting job with the government when it comes to sole sourcing. The first is through standard competition, which may be full and open or limited and restricted to a certain group, depending on the job and the needs. The second way to get in is through a set-aside. Set-asides can be made for certain businesses, such as small companies or companies in a hub area. However, there are exceptions; specifically if a company offers a particularly expert or patented service that cannot be supplied by anyone else or if there are urgent circumstances surrounding the company’s need for the job.

Safety, Step 1

Working with the government may or may not be the goal of many in the industry, or even within the PGC. During one presentation, the audience members who currently work with the government were asked to identify themselves by a show of hands and fewer than a quarter of the audience indicated that they did. However, everyone in attendance was and is concerned with protective glazing. Addressing that aspect of work was Joseph Smith of Applied Research Associates Inc.

Differentiating between counter-terrorism and anti-terrorism, Smith discussed the aspects of protecting building occupants that must be considered during the design and creation of new buildings, as well as in retrofitting an edifice.

“We don’t do counter-terrorism,” he said, defining it as managing risk by going after the treat. “We do anti-terrorism—managing risk by defending assets.”

Smith took his audience through the steps of determining what was needed—assessment of vulnerability, risk and physical security—as well as the matters to be considered for perimeter protection, the anatomy of a bomb blast, the criteria for window protection and how different windows react in different situations, among other things.

The following day, Ken Hays of Masonry Arts Inc., was joined by Jim Larkin of Curtainwall Design Consultants and Moty Emek of Oldcastle Arpal. The trio addressed the topic of safety and security, looking particularly at the roll of installers, quality control, oversight and, particularly, liability. An emphasis was placed on selection of the proper window and attachment system for the building. As the panelists pointed out, it won’t matter how strong the window and its components are if the building itself won’t hold up to it.

If a window installed for safety or security purposes doesn’t hold up or doesn’t perform in the manner in which it is expected, who will be held liable? That question was raised by Hays, discussed by the panel and entertained by the audience members. One audience member asked if there was limit to liability—if a window is designed and installed to protect up to 4 psi and a bomb detonates at 8 psi, the window will fail. A complicated issue with no one-correct answer, conversation seemed to always come back to quality control and ensuring that the installer does the job correctly. Excellent documentation is important so that installers and their employers can protect themselves if everything was done to code and the window were to still fail.

“If someone brings a bomb to a building, it doesn’t mean they’ll bring a bomb according to the specs,” said Emek. “The idea is to reduce the number of casualties.”

Safety, Step 2
While many of the speakers at the symposium discussed the issues in relation to the jobs audience members do, two in particular emphasized the human side of the work. Evey, Thursday’s keynote speaker, took his audience through the changes the Pentagon has undergone in the last eight years. He began with what he saw when he was placed at the helm of the Pentagon Renovation Program, which started prior to the September 11 attacks, and took listeners through the devastation caused on that day and to how the completed upgrades of one part of the building—including blast-resistant windows and window film—contrasted with the section immediately beside it, which was still part of the original edifice.

As Evey pointed out, the Pentagon was built during World War II without any structural steel used in its construction. Though the renovations Evey did prior to the terrorist attacks consisted of much more than just upgrading the windows, since 2001 the objective has been to bring the rest of the building up to the standards of the surviving section. This includes the use of structural steel as well as many other upgrades, including work on the fenestration. The Pentagon, however, is on the historical registry, meaning all the upgrades must maintain the building’s original look.

Among the lessons Evey learned working on the Pentagon, he imparted on his audience the need to work together.

“At the end of the day, when they go home and their kids ask what they did today, people want to say ‘I built a building,’” Evey said. “If you can give people the power to take home that kind of feeling, you’ve got a team that can’t be beat.”

Closing out the symposium was Hollice Stone of Hinman Consulting Engineers Inc., looking at a different side of safety and security glazing: the ingress and egress of emergency first response personnel, particularly firefighters.

Stone explained that while the consensus of keeping the country safe is to prevent forced entry, firefighters and other emergency personnel often need to be able to force entry into a building to save people, vent toxic fumes and get to the blaze. Conversely, if a firefighter is trapped inside a building, breaking the window is often the best means of escape, unless the window has safety or security film or attachment systems.

A timed test with a San Francisco fire department, in which participants were not told what, if any, security features were on a window, showed that standard daylight applied film and laminated glass slowed rescue workers down by seconds. Windows with interior blast shields, however, took minutes to break—long enough to make the difference between life and death for someone trapped inside a burning building.

What came out of the presentation and subsequent discussion was the need to create some way to inform firefighters across the country about the differences in safety and security windows they might encounter. Many different ideas about how to share the information were discussed, with representatives of the International Window Film Association and the Glass Association of North America offering up suggestions on ways to spread the word and garner interest.

Safety is a Beautiful Thing
Highly desired security does not have to impede beauty in design. That was the message Michael Duffy of Leo A Daly imparted upon the audience when he took the stage. Illustrating his speech with pictures of buildings such as the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, and Our Lady of the Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, Duffy detailed how the concept of thinking outside the box was most beneficial to those who work with glass and film.

“The theme of this years’ symposium is Security, Aesthetics and Design. I don’t think they got the order wrong,” Duffy said.

The next meeting of the PGC will be held in the spring. 

the author
Brigid O'Leary is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine.


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