Uses for Glass in Today’s Architecture
Renowned architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects once
stated, “I work with, more or less, inert matter. And I organize it.”
(TedTalk Conference 2005). Glass, an amazing piece of technology born
centuries ago, is a combination of several minerals. And while the mineral
construction is fairly simple, glass – this inert matter – remains one
of the most advanced, most versatile materials used in architecture today.
Here’s a look at some architectural glass trends we’ve spotted.
Decorative Glass Trends Architects today are constantly
looking at distinctive and unique solutions to build energy efficient
buildings that offer optimal living and working spaces. Interior applications
such as glass with color coatings, digital images, textures and patterns
remain popular ways to create distinctive elements. Exterior applications
are being used to provide enhanced performance levels, bird-friendly applications,
daylighting diffusion, glare control and more.
In certain cases, such as glass walkways, the evolution of design-driven
concepts is creating new performance requirements.
Laminated Glass Trends The 2015 International Building
Code (IBC) will contain new language that limits the use of monolithic
tempered glass to areas where there is no walking surface underneath or
where the walking surface is permanently protected from the risk of falling
glass. The IBC already requires laminated glass for exterior balcony railings
in wind-borne debris areas.
Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, school
districts across the country became interested in upgrading existing glazing
or specifying laminated glass in new construction. Some schools seek to
take advantage of the post-breakage glass retention feature that laminated
glass offers. In 2013, Detroit Public Schools implemented ballistic-mitigating
glass throughout the first story of the Martin Luther King Jr. Senior
High School. The atrium of the school features more than 1,000 square
feet of laminated glass panels.
"Meeting these broader
certification and code compliance goals has opened opportunities for
the glazing industry to expand innovation and collaboration with the
design and architectural community."
Energy-Related Glass Trends
The increased use of sustainable (green) codes, standards and rating systems
such as the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and LEED v4,
among others, have broadened the market focus from energy efficiency to
additional measures of sustainability such as material sourcing, recycling,
water use and indoor environmental quality. Meeting these broader certification
and code compliance goals has opened opportunities for the glazing industry
to expand innovation and collaboration with the design and architectural
In the area of material resources, the glazing industry is currently finalizing
Product Category Rules (PCRs) for windows and a PCR for flat glass was
recently completed. As a result, Environmental Product Declarations for
windows will be available soon to help architects meet material resource
project compliance goals.
The industry conversation about energy-efficient designs with access to
daylight is currently evolving in the code arena. The discussion is moving
away from simply reducing window-to-wall ratio as a means of reducing
energy consumption to specifying sufficient glass with the appropriate
performance in optimal locations. The goal is to provide daylight spaces
with good views to the outside, while also maintaining thermal and visual
Learn More GlassCon Global is an education forum
exploring cutting-edge technology and concepts in architectural glass
around the world. The event will feature international experts discussing
ground-breaking case studies and applications. GANA and the Finishing
Contractors Association are co-hosting this powerful three-day event,
which will take place July 7 - 10 in Philadelphia. Learn more by visiting
Erin Roberts is the director of marketing for the
Glass Association of North America in Topeka, Kan.
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