Volume 41, Issue 7 - July 2006

More than Meets the Eye

Downtown Los Angeles may not be the greatest locale for a trade show—the journey there is a long one for many, the city is large and spread out and traffic is the worst in the nation—but despite the negatives, the AIA Show and Convention fared well.

Taking place June 8-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, nearly 25,000 architects traveled to the annual event to view some of the latest wares from hundreds of exhibitors. Companies offered products for all ranges of architecture, from commercial to residential, interiors to landscape. Not to be left out, the glass and glazing industry was well-represented, with products for floors, doors and walls; colorful, patterned and clear; energy efficient, fire-rated and so much more.

Primary Matters

Primary glass manufacturers may not always see eye-to-eye, but those at the convention all agreed about how business was doing. 

“Things are good,” said Scott Hoover, senior manager-architectural marketing for Pilkington North America, standing in the Toledo, Ohio-based manufacturer’s dynamic booth. “Commercial is starting to open up and residential is still strong,” he added.
“Things are going well,” echoed Joe Staffileno, manager national sales for ACH Glass Operations in Allen Park, Mich. “We’re selling all the glass we can make,” backed up Cynthia Coulter, senior manager sales and marketing for the company.

“The market looks good,” opined PPG’s Pat Kenny. “Commercial is strong and residential may be slowing a little, but it still looks good to me,” he added.

Jon Hughes, manager architectural sales for AFG Glass in Kingsport, Tenn., made it unanimous when he said, “Things are good.”

What seemed to be making everyone so happy? 

“Low-E continues to grow beyond our expectations,” stated Pilkington’s Hoover. He said his company has found that architects and designers like a subtle reflectivity.

AFG’s Hughes said his company is seeing a high demand for high-transmission, low-E products that deliver good energy efficiency performance. He also pointed out that the use of post-temperable glass is still growing and that second-surface low-E glass is a popular construction. “We’re getting more complex with spectrally-selective coatings,” he said of the primary glass manufacturers. “There are so many of these products available now and they are similar,” he added.

Hughes also pointed to the popularity of laminated glass use, which is growing for security applications as well as hurricane-resistant use.

And though Guardian Industries was not exhibiting on its own, it still made some news. The company announced it was expanding its relationship with Hurd Windows and Doors; Hurd will now be offering Guardian’s ClimaGuard™ glass as part of its ComfortGlaze lineup (see box at right).

Pretty Patterns

As it has at past AIA shows, decorative glass continued to draw an interest.

“Decorative is a niche market and you have to find out what the different areas are and what the markets want,” explained Marc Deschamps, business development manager for Walker Glass in Montreal. “The architects and designers want, and the market needs, new types of glass and suppliers are responding,” he stated. “It becomes a matter of meeting specific demands. Architects want a specific glass with specific specs and that’s the challenge, to meet those specific specs or needs,” he added.

“Then you have to get the program going to meet the demands of the fabricators—inventory, lead time, etc. It’s very challenging,” he continued.

Deschamps said that colors are extremely trendy. “Architects are eager for colorful solutions,” he added.

“There’s a lot of interest in how glass fits into LEED,” pointed out Cathie Saroka, marketing director for Goldray Industries Ltd. in Calgary. “The more glass they use in the design, the more LEED points they can get because of its energy efficiency and daylighting properties,” she added.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in glass floors,” said Saroka. “And there’s been a lot of interest in acid-etched glass because it offers the architects more design options.”

Glass floors were part of Oldcastle Glass’ new two-level glass booth, which created a lot of buzz at the show for its dramatic design.

John Bush, Oldcastle’s director of laminated products and development in Sunrise, Fla., pointed out that architects like the versatility of decorative glass. “It’s a niche market and not huge, but it is interesting,” he added.

Glass stair treads dominated the booth of Nathan Allan Glass Studios Inc. of Richmond, British Columbia, as well. Barry Allan, director, said that the more unusual products are developed, the more interest there is in them. “Architects and designers are always looking for something new and unique,” he stated. “The products we introduced three to five years ago are not so exciting, so now we’re incorporating colors and making the stair treads.”

Donald Press, general manager, advanced materials for Schott North America, said his company was introducing a new product, Narima™, a color effects glass that drew lots of attention at the show. Narima produces different hues, in transmission and reflection, depending on the amount of sunlight, viewing angle and background. 

“It provides a unique appearance,” said Press. “We’re excited about this product; it adds a lot of pizzazz to what would be just a glass building.” 

Joel Berman Glass Studios exhibited with one of its partners, Kwik-Wall. The company has recently introduced a number of new patterns and textures.

“Architects always want something that’s new and exciting and different,” said John Driver, director of marketing.

Bringing more color options to glass, DuPont displayed its new Butacite interlayer colors, which will soon be available to the U.S. market. The line includes an array of bright colors, which were launched in response to requests from architects. New colors include Strawberry Red, Coconut White, Lemon Yellow and Blueberry Violet, just to name a few.

Windows and Walls of Opportunity 

Curtainwall and window system manufacturers offered a wide selection of new products, and from the exhibitors on hand, architects were able to learn about the many benefits and possibilities such products can afford.

As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, Kawneer exhibited with a brand-new booth—an 800-square-foot exhibit that displayed the company’s variety of products. Of particular interest to architects was a new line of pre-glazing/assembly products that are designed to eliminate field labor and installation costs. 

“The pre-glaze products have been an interest to architects because time is an issue for them, too,” said Henry Taylor, a member of the company’s architectural service team who was on hand specifically to talk with architects. “They are cognizant of [the time factor] when they spec a product,” he said. According to Taylor, other products of interest were impact/protective glazing products, as well as those with a high thermal performance. 

Doug Penn with YKK AP said his company was introducing a new screw spline curtainwall system that is designed to lower installation time and cost.

“The complete fabrication and assembly is done in the shop,” he said. According to Penn, other trends in which architects have expressed interest include blast mitigation and hurricane-resistant products, sound transmission and energy performance.

LEED certification was another hot topic at the show. Tim Nass, a regional sales manager for Wausau Window and Wall Systems, said that about 85 percent of the architects they talk to ask about LEED. “Architects are not just looking at the product,” he said, “but the organization as a whole and how you produce the product.” 

Nass also said the big push for Wausau this year has been toward windows and window wall systems for multi-family, hotels, etc. The company recently introduced a new terrace door as well as additions to its Visuline windows series, designed for residential high rises/hotels. Nass said the products are not only competitively priced, but also offer aesthetics, versatility and thermal performance. 

Vistawall Architectural Products displayed an assortment of products as well. According to Fred Grunewald, one increasingly important area to architects is sustainability. He said not only are curtainwall products being offered with high thermal performance abilities, but also are now incorporating photovoltaics. 

Pilkington displayed a wide variety of products as well, including its Profilit channel glass. Tysen Gannon, Pilkington Profilit product manager for Technical Glass Products, said the product has been very popular and is being viewed by architects as an alternative to glass block. “It offers increased daylighting and energy efficiency and can omit glare associated with typical transparent windows,” she said. “We’re trying to think outside of the box and expand on what can be done with glass.”


As the curtainwall manufacturers noted, when it comes to glass and glazing, energy efficiency is one area that is growing in popularity and interest. Two spacer companies, AZON USA and Edgetech I.G., exhibited and both said there had been a great deal of interest in warm-edge technology by the architects. 

“Our goal is to start getting speced by the architects,” said Patrick Muessig of AZON. “When an architect specifies a warm-edge product, our customers then come to us for it.”

Joe Erb of Edgetech also said there had been lots of interest. “Lots of people have stopped by and said they had heard of the product, so the word is getting out,” he said.

Fire-Rated Scene

With the many changes to the new International Building Code (see related article, page 80), companies are launching new products to meet those requirements.

“Architects have asked a lot of questions about the changes to the building codes,” said Devin Brown with Technical Glass Products. “The requirements for fire-rated glass are becoming more common, so now, as the codes change, architects are realizing they need help in determining which products are appropriate for different applications.” Fire-rated products from Pilkington on display included Pyrostop, which features a low-iron glass that can block smoke and flames as well as radiant heat. Fire-rated framing is also available that mirrors the performance of the glass.

New from Schott North America was Pyran® Star laminated fire-rated glass-ceramic (Pyran Star L). According to Schott’s Press, the product is both transparent and wireless. It is fire-rated up to 90 minutes and also has impact safety ratings according to ANSI Z97.1 and CPSC 16FR1201 for categories I and II.

Aluflam USA exhibited with its aluminum fire-rated glazing systems. The newest launch, a butt-glazed vision wall with a 60-minute rating, drew lots of attention.

“Architects like these framing systems,” said Peter Lindgren, president. “All of them are fire-rated, but this does not have a bulky look.”

Adding to the already popular trend in glass floors, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain introduced glass floors with fire-ratings up to 90 minutes. Called Liteflam, Vetrotech worked with Landmark Glass Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia to develop the new line.

Another company that has added to two glass-growth markets, decorative and hurricane-resistance, was SAFTI First. The company introduced fire-rated decorative glass products, as well as fire-rated hurricane-resistant products.

Product Showcase

Glass products aren’t just for windows these days; many industries are crossing over and incorporating glass into their offerings.
One such segment of the show was that of railings and balusters, with a number of companies offering new systems. C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. was on hand showing its wide assortment of railing systems, which can be used for both interior and exterior applications, in both commercial and residential construction.

“Our custom railings are very popular right now,” said Lou Joella.

Kim McDonnell of hardware company Dorma, said the products from their Dorma Glas division were extremely popular. The products allow doors and entrances to be constructed with very little hardware and metal. 
“Architects want to see all glass and less fittings,” said McDonnell.

CHMI displayed a number of new products as well. President Tony Lambros said one of the newest launches was a system for glass folding doors and partitions. “There’s no bottom track,” he said. “This creates a folding partition or wall of glass.” 

Other new offerings from CHMI include a line of cast glass knobs and handles, as well as a composite technology through which the company can sculpt, emboss or engrave shapes and patterns into handles. Lambros described the new technology as an ideal alternative for those who want a custom, high-end look that is still cost effective.

Ending on a High Note

At the 2006 AIA show architects were able to learn about glass for just about every need and purpose—even glass that sings (yes, sings). SingingGlass is a trademark of Inspired Designs and is a product that turns glass into a speaker. The system converts calibrated audio signals into a range of frequencies, and can be installed for use in windows and storefront applications.

Next year the AIA show travels to San Antonio, Texas, where it will take place May 3-5.

Guardian Announces Hurd to Offer ClimaGuard SPF™ on ComfortGlaze™ Line

Guardian Industries and Hurd Windows and Doors announced that Hurd will now offer Guardian’s ClimaGuard SPF glass as part of its ComfortGlaze product line. The ClimaGuard product is designed to block 99 percent of ultraviolet radiation without any visible change to daylighting. 

“This is a significant step in the companies’ relationship,” said Tim Singel, Guardian’s director of residential glass products. “This is a unique product for Hurd.” According to Singel, homeowners are spending billions of dollars on home furnishings, and often have to change them out because of fading. “ClimaGuard SPF is a solution to that,” said Singel.

Singel explained that until now low-E glass has been commonly recommended to minimize the damaging effects of UV radiation exposure. “But really, it (low-E) comes up short,” said Singel, who said that traditional low-E products have a fade protection factor of 7, while ClimaGuard SPF provides a fade protection factor of more than 50. “ClimaGuard SPF provides [Hurd] an original tool to take to the marketplace that’s unrivaled,” said Singel. 

“This is an opportunity for us to promote a product that fits our overall niche of providing all types of glazing products to customers,” said Dominique Truniger, general manager of Hurd Windows and Doors. “ClimaGuard SPF allows us to have something unique and different than our competitors.” 

Truniger said that with more and more homeowners investing into their home interiors, it’s becoming increasingly important for them to protect them. And while the product does cost somewhat more than an average window package, the cost of investing in ClimaGuard SPF will save homeowners from having to invest in replacing faded hardwood floors, carpeting, furniture and other home interiors. 

Getting Ready for a Blast

Partying or “having a blast” was not the only kind of blast on the minds of architects at the AIA convention. Innovation in blast-resistant design was the topic of a seminar Friday morning.

Approximately 150 people filled the lecture hall to find out more about the subject.

Robert Smilowitz, who is with Weidlinger Associates in New York City, a company heavily involved in weighing risk assessment and appropriate design, explained that the State Department had asked that criteria for facilities overseas be set up following bombings in Africa and that the same request follow the bombing of the Alfred Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

He pointed out that while the federal government has developed specific criteria, no standards exist for commercial design. However, his company recommends rational risk assessment, which means that the focus should be on management of something that is at high risk of happening and to cover life safety if there is a catastrophic event.

He explained the grid system to attendees, which has been developed to weigh off risk management versus cost so that the decisions can be made on what the design will be and what level of protection it will provide. It ranges from upgrades that can be made at minimum cost to designs that incorporate high protection at a high cost.

For U.S. government facilities, the Interagency Security Committee (ISC) provides security design criteria for the General Services Administration (GSA); the United Facilities Criteria (UFC) provides minimum anti-terrorism standards for buildings for the Department of Defense; and the Department of State has the International Code Supplement to the International Building Code (IBC).

For commercial structures, he suggested that threat and risk analysis (TARA) be done for each structure.

In discussing blast-resistant design, Smilowitz explained that reducing glass and the damage that broken glass would cause is known as debris mitigation. He said that laminated glass should be used with a structural silicone sealant to transfer collateral loads to the frames and that anchorage should be adequate to transfer the loads to the structure.

Ken Hayes of Masonry Arts/Physical Security in Bessemer, Ala., moderated the discussion. He said that the one word he wanted to leave attendees with concerning blast-resistant systems is tolerances. With blast resistance, tolerances are tighter than is customary. He explained that, as the blast criteria go up, they get even tighter. One other point he made was that the larger the lite of glass, the higher the cost of the design is.

Also on the panel, Morgan Williams of Hellmuth, Obata+Kassabaum in Washington, D.C., discussed the design of the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and Kevin O’Connor of Ross, Barney+Jankowski in Chicago, discussed the Oklahoma Federal Building Complex.

Nine Ways to Avoid Glass Failures

Patrick Loughran, Goettsch Partners, has authored a book about problems with glass constructions, and he shared some of his insights with fellow architects during the AIA convention.

To a standing room only audience, Loughran pointed out that he was discussing these problems that have occurred so that they don’t get repeated. He said there are nine things to look out for to avoid building enclosure problems.

Number one on his list was nickel sulfide stones in tempered glass. “They can cause spontaneous breakage,” he told the group, adding that this was a rare occurrence. 

Next on his list was thermal stress. “This happens especially at the edges,” he said. Examples where this has been a problem included the CNA Building in Chicago and the Bacardi office building in Mexico City.

Number three was corrosion. “Most people don’t think of glass as corroding,” he said, “but with the more transparent style of design, you get corrosion from other building materials, such as cement and the metal.” He advised that the problem can be prevented by simply cleaning the glass.

He used the Louvre Museum in Paris as an example where corrosion had occurred, and said that architects have to think about how their designs are going to be cleaned.

Incompatibility of materials was his fourth area. The Louvre was cited again as an example where the PVB interlayer and the silicone sealant had proven problematic. He said the four-sided silicone glazing has had some discoloration where the material came in contact.

Next problem—leakage. “Do tests with a mock-up,” he advised. “Our design is two dimensional,” he pointed out, “while the installation is three dimensional. Testing can be used to bridge the two.” He also added that testing gives confidence that a building won’t have leaks.

Perhaps surprisingly, energy was number six on his list. “In the quest to save energy, we can’t make the system too complex for users,” he explained. He gave the example of double-wall facades where the desire for energy efficiency has led to a lack in use of the energy saving design or constructions where design problems have occurred.

“Today, glass is being used more as part of the structure rather than just as a window,” he told the audience in introducing structure as problem number seven. As an example he cited the Palais de Justice in Bordeaux, which has a large glass wall with glass fins. While he said he didn’t know the specifics, it is clear that the glass fins were being replaced with metal ones. “They’ve lost confidence in the design,” he said. Size glass properly, he advised.

Number eight on his problem list was redundancy. “You have to have a design so that if a lite of glass breaks then it doesn’t cause another lite of glass to break,” he said. This happened at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, he reported.

“There is a large glass wall on the interior that is curved slightly. Early on, one of the higher lites broke and that caused other lites to break,” he said. Metal clips were put on the lites to prevent this from happening again, he reported.

The final problem on his list was impact. Whether from natural events such as wind, or intended forces, such as blast, building enclosures are vulnerable to a variety of unwanted attackers, he said. “Glass walls can be designed to resist impact from bullets to baseballs to bombs,” he pointed out.

“Glass will break,” he said. “What architects have to do is make designs so that you don’t end up with broken glass on the floor.”

At the end of his presentation, he addressed the topic of glass trends.

“The design and manufacturing community is moving in new directions for glass structures,” he said. “We’re getting close to our quest for total transparency. Facades are changing; they are no longer static,” he added. “They can adapt to the sun or the environment.”

He also pointed out that glass sizes are getting bigger because the float glass manufacturers can produce larger pieces of glass and they can be fabricated and put into insulating glass units.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.