Volume 49, Issue 6 - June 2014

GANA Perspectives

Uses for Glass in Today’s Architecture

by Erin Roberts

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 community.

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 comfort.

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 glasswebsite.com .

Erin Roberts is the director of marketing for the Glass Association of North America in Topeka, Kan.


© Copyright 2014 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.