Volume 40,   Issue 1                             January 2005

Dear Glass Industry Professional
An Open Letter to members of the Glazing Community ...
To:    Members of the Glass and Glazing Industry
From:    Michael Duffy, PE, Esq., LEED®AP
Re:    What Architects Want

In this post-9/11 world of heightened security awareness, we are increasingly concerned about security glazing. We are offering this letter to our colleagues in the glass and glazing industry as an invitation to collaborate more fully to the benefit of our clients and with the intended consequence of an improved legacy of shared work. By addressing together not just the security glazing concerns, but the broader functional requirements, we can deliver work that exceeds client expectations in a positive and cost-effective way. 

Our work in designing and delivering superior facilities is more the product of proactive collaboration than it is simple, technical expertise. Without a shared understanding of complete functional requirements among the client, the designer, the vendor and the builder, we, more often than not, address a primary concern without achieving optimal results. Thus, we each need to engage the other in a timelier, more complete collaboration. The purpose of this short letter is to share our thoughts on how that collaboration can improve. 

First, our five most important thoughts on glazing: 
1. We believe that glass and glazing are fundamentally important elements in our portfolio of material and elemental choices. That belief was most eloquently pronounced about 400 years ago:
“Glass is more gentle, graceful, and noble than any metal and its use is more 
    delightful, polite, and sightly than any other material at this day known to 
    the world.”
—Antonio Neri, L’Arte Vetraria (The Art of Glass), 1612.
2. It is incumbent on us to investigate glazing options fully for these reasons: occupied space is generally healthier space when it is naturally lit; we can use natural forces to light, heat and create superior environmental space, and we have a range of glass solutions for aesthetic, environmental and even structural solutions. The interaction between glazing elements, architectural form, image, function and life cycle cost considerations are far-reaching.
The Harrisburg Airport in Harrisburg, PA, was a collaboration of architect, HNTB, and
glazing contractor, Pittsburg Glazing Systems.

3. Many design professionals are not completely current on the range of options that exist, and we find it mentally withering to identify and analyze functional glazing options rapidly so as to determine those that are most economically feasible for final selection. If you, the glazing professional, filled this informational void, it would make you part of the design and delivery team. With the strong trend toward design-build in some markets, we all must think holistically and recognize that our success is interdependent.
4. Steady progress in composition, laminate and film technology and structural configuration compel us to seek professional input and update our knowledge base frequently. These days, security is a prominent design concern, but you’ll note that we have placed it in the fourth position because we presume that this skill set is almost a given. If you are not on board in understanding the security dimension of our business, then you likely will not be involved in major projects with us. Within a systems-based approach to design, our collective preferred solution is the result of the collaborative effort to achieve savings through intended consequences.
5. Superior glazing professionals are much more than vendors. They understand the range of solutions and their functional characteristics in the context of a complete facility solution, over the building’s lifecycle, through decommissioning and disposal or recycling. If you bring that cradle-to-grave understanding of your products and services, you bring added value.

Second, to enhance the collaboration and involvement of the glazing professional, we offer the following suggestions:
1. Organizations for glazing professionals, such as the Glazing Association of North America and its building envelope contractors division, do a superior job of exchanging information, but not all association gatherings engage design professionals and clients. If we don’t attend your gatherings, consider ways you can insert your educational programs into our developer conferences, such as AIA gatherings.
2. Follow the lead of sustainable design and look carefully and constantly at the totality of your glazing solution. Sure, it satisfies blast design loads and yes, it addresses forced entry, but is there an opportunity to enhance the other environmental, aesthetic and architectural issues in a cost-effective way? That is also value-added.
3. On a project, ask all necessary questions to better understand the full functionality and project elements that will impinge on glazing choices. If you identify yourself as someone who knows the business of glazing and can identify quickly the likely appropriate options for final analysis and choice, you will be our habitual partner.
4. If you are a vendor and understand that usually we pick you or if you are an installer and you understand that usually the builder picks you and if you understand that the client sees us all as a team, then you know that you get closer to us when you make technical information readily available and useful. It is most important for design professionals to know which glazing options satisfy a set of collective requirements economically and far less important for us to know why they do so. Present your information that way and make sure it’s updated and that we know how to get to it.
5. Understand that your solutions, like our designs, must fit the sense of place. In other words, a perfect solution might not be so perfect in a different setting, and any “perfect” solution can be improved over time as science, production facilities and operations and maintenance (O&M) capabilities improve. We urge your continued efforts to find enhanced capabilities at acceptable cost. For us, like for Antonio Neri, glass is quite frequently the material of first choice.

Finally, when a project requires or suggests the use of security glazing, here are the most important elements you can provide:
•     Product, cost and delivery data on glazing products that meet or exceed blast 
       requirements per the specifications;
•     Product, cost and delivery data on glazing products that meet forced entry/exit 
       load requirements per the specifications;
•     Product, cost and delivery data on glazing products that meet hurricane/high
       wind load requirements per the specifications;
•     Special handling and installation requirements with respect to these;
•     Special O&M or disposal requirements with respect to these;
•     Potential recycling opportunities with respect to these; and
•     Included or available environmental benefits, and, options and comparative cost 
       impacts primarily in the areas of HVAC, aesthetics, ultraviolet filtration, 
       emmissivity and radiant heat reduction.

In our ongoing work to rehabilitate a U.S. Embassy we are challenged by issues that implicate much of what is presented above. This embassy, designed by a pre-eminent architect, was built in the 1960s and requires security upgrades including protective glazing. Vlasta Poch, design principal with HNTB Architecture, describes the challenge succinctly: “We must conserve and respect the modernist language and image of this significant architectural landmark—one that includes oversize glass panels—while improving blast security. It appears unavoidable that we will need to subdivide the large panels of glass to distribute blast loads, and we are looking at some options (and searching for others) to achieve the security mandate in a respectful and enhancing way. The ideal solution includes glazing, unique mountings and understanding how the glass is received by the frames and tied into the structure, while minimizing the impact on the designer’s original vision.” An engaged glazing consultant makes this process easier and helps ensure an optimal result. 

If you can assist us in addressing the mix of issues, engage us progressively in places where our interests and associations converge and come prepared to exceed the minimum standard and make the project, we will become habitual partners on the path ahead.

In conclusion, we hope over time to see an increased pool of exceptional glazing professionals who are progressively more visible in our world of design and construction—people who make us better professionals by enhancing the ready availability of their technical information and whose timely participation and leadership in the delivery of superior facilities benefits our shared clients.

Most respectfully, and on behalf of your design colleagues at HNTB,
                        Michael Duffy, PE, Esq., LEED®AP

The Author:
Michael Duffy is vice president, director of military programs at HNTB Federal Serves Corporation in Arlington, VA.

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