Volume 46, Issue 11 - December 2011


A Bad Rap on Glass
Dear USGlass:
I enjoyed reading the article about railing glass breakage (see October 2011 USGlass, page 32). Since we have been using glass in our railing systems since the early 1970s, you can imagine the book we could write on this subject!

Our company has a lot of faith in tempered glass. We have our own test lab and, along with structural analysis, we physically test every handrail system we build, whether it is our own design or custom. Heavy tempered glass is an extremely strong product which, if used properly, designed in a system properly and installed properly, will out-perform other railing materials. We have seen no increase in railing breakage with the influx of foreign glass products. In fact, we have seen better edge quality supplied from foreign vendors due to the fact they may have invested in modern equipment whereas U.S. fabricators have been reluctant to do so.

In our experience, laminated glass is not a product for hand railings, especially when used with ¼-inch tempered glass. We have physically tested this many times and feel the ¼-inch glass is not sufficient for the load calculations required in handrail systems. It is also more delicate to handle during installation.

We believe glass is getting a bad rap. It is our opinion the real issue causing breakage is the fact that some clients think building glass handrails is easy. There is a common theme in the marketplace that you can design and order the glass panels and buy all the hardware online from various sources and “do it yourself.” Speaking from experience, this is a menu for disaster. Right now there are many companies specializing in the parts and pieces business. This is not a bad thing, but many times these parts have not been tested in a system and “system” is the key word. Railing systems are not a collaboration of a kit of parts, cobbled together (sometimes in the field) with the end result being a high-performance railing system capable of withstanding combined forces as described in calculations. Calculations impact design and so on and so forth.

Companies that specialize in railings understand this and know there are no shortcuts to safety and quality.

Richard Livers
President, Livers Bronze Co.
Kansas City, Mo.

Dear USGlass:
I’m writing in regard to the article “A Tale of Three Cities—and Lots of Broken Glass” (see October 2011 USGlass, page 32). Andersson-Wise Architects is mentioned in the article; this firm is the design architect, but not the architect of record, for the W Austin Hotel & Residences. Andersson-Wise did not make any of the glass specifications for the W Austin project. BOKA Powell of Dallas is the architect of record. We are wondering if a correction could be issued to clarify that there were two firms involved at the W.

As the article stands now, it could lead a reader to think Andersson-Wise was involved in the glass selection, which was not the case.

Best regards,
John van Duyl
PR For Andersson Wise Architects

Editor’s Note: A representative of BOKA Powell Architects confirmed that the firm was the architect of record on the W Austin but declined to comment further until the issue is fully resolved.



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