Volume 50, Issue 6 - June 2015

A Whole New World
GPD 2015 Explores Innovation, Business and Design

by Ellen Rogers

Jorma Vitkala, chair of the GPD organizing committee, welcomes attendees to the 2013 event in Tampere, Finland.

The glass and glazing industry is changing rapidly. Building codes call for increasingly higher-performance buildings, while architects demand cutting-edge aesthetics. This means challenging times for glass manufacturers and suppliers.

To help the industry stay ahead, Glass Performance Days (GPD) Finland offers a program packed with some of the most important topics for the architectural glass industry. The bi-annual event takes place June 23-26, 2015 in Tampere, Finland, and will include a range of presentations covering the latest in glass technology.

According to event organizers, GPD is designed to serve the needs of the entire glass industry value chain, from technology development to on-site construction.

“Our theme this time is ‘Innovation-Business-Design,’ but under that umbrella we really focus on bringing advantages to all participants,” says Jorma Vitkala, chairman of the GPD organizing committee. “Based on feedback from earlier conferences, we have streamlined the program and made it a point to provide more information in less time-consuming ways. Our workshops take a practical approach to specific issues, and the increased interactivity of the entire conference is planned to serve the special needs of participants for both additional information and instant feedback.”

Richard Green with Front Inc.; Helen Sanders, Sage Electrochromics; Bill Lingnell, Lingnell Consulting Services; and Stephen Morse, Texas Tech University, enjoy one of the GPD social events.

Intensive Learning

The GPD program will cover a variety of topics, from glass processing to the use of glass in construction. Experts from around the world have signed on as speakers, with presentations focusing on agenda items such as advanced technologies in coatings, lamination, tempering and insulating glass; the use of glass in structural applications; high-performance facades; and challenges and solutions in architecture, among others.

As in years past, participants can select the combination of events most useful for their needs. However, this year the program features a two-day concentrated format following the event opening.

A unique program of intensive special topic workshops is scheduled for June 23-24, prior to the official GPD kickoff June 25. The workshops last from four to eight hours each and are short courses offering participants hands-on knowledge and practical information on specific topics.

“Normally it takes a lot of time and several meetings, lots of traveling and major expenses to get to the final details of successful projects, but here at GPD we provide instant access to that same information in a concentrated way at the same location,” adds Vitkala. “Among the conference highlights, we count the issue of high-rise construction and our case studies from the world’s most challenging building projects. Leading architects participate in these presentations, and a lot of weight is given to the opportunities of using glass in façade solutions and as a structural element. Among the architectural presentations, we also [have one on] the proposals for the Guggenheim Museum project in Helsinki, Finland.”

For glass processors, the many practical presentations in the different workshops, as well as the conference program, provide lots of opportunities to learn about new trends and special requirements. According to organizers, the experiences the sessions provide will help influence product processing and development, as well as future product developments.

“Knowing what architects and designers look for enables processors to prepare for the right product offering at the right time without costly investments in solutions that might not be a priority,” says Vitkala, adding that top management representatives have expressed their main reason for returning to the GPD is to get a good feeling for the direction in which the business is headed; market intelligence and networking are some of the key advantages that help focus business operations in the right way.

He adds, “It is often the case that informal discussions and unpublished expert opinions point the way of development long before formal documentation, and that is the kind of insight that top management really needs.”

GPD sessions focus on a variety of design and fabrication topics for the glass industry, as well as architects and engineers, among others.

Networking Activities

GPD is well-known for its high-quality education tracks, and infamous for its networking and social agenda. June in Finland brings 24 hours of daylight and the event takes full advantage of it, with a range of activities.

This year, from a business perspective, GPD will include several networking functions as part of the program agenda.

The “Meeting Manager” function can be used to ensure pre-booked, one-on-one meetings take place on time and at the right place. In addition, group discussions can be facilitated before, during and after the conference where industry issues and challenges will be discussed and solutions proposed. They will be facilitated through online discussions, roundtable and panel sessions, as well as debates during the event.

In addition, various polling and voting opportunities will also take place. Organizers will collect questions and feedback from audience members in real-time via modern technology. The audience’s responses will be displayed instantly on screens, providing engagement and productivity among attendees.

Several social activities are also scheduled:

• A get-together party, Wednesday, June 24, provides an excellent opportunity to meet old and new colleagues.

• The conference buffet dinner, Thursday, June 25, includes dinner, drinks and entertainment in a unique setting.

• The farewell party, Friday, June 26, 7 p.m. – sunrise is always unforgettable. The set-up is informal and includes special networking opportunities, activities and entertainment.

“Midsummer time is a very special time in Scandinavia and Finland,” says Vitkala. “Not only do we have the advantage of extended daylight hours but also a general atmosphere of optimism and togetherness. That serves the GPD spirit well.”

To learn more about GPD Finland 2015, visit the event website at www.gpd.fi.

the author

Ellen Rogers is the editor of USGlass magazine. Follow her on Twitter @USGlass and like USGlass on Facebook to receive updates. If you’re attending GPD, be sure and look for her to say hello and share your thoughts on the program.

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