Volume 50, Issue 6 - June 2015

Take 5
A Close Look at New Themes at
the 2015 AIA National Convention

by Ellen Rogers and Nick St. Denis

The glass and glazing industry had a big presence at the American Institute of Architects National Convention, which was held last month in Atlanta.

Architects continue to be interested in energy performance and aesthetics, but that’s not the only thing driving their evolving designs. There were several other areas of interest at this year’s American Institute of Architects National Convention, which took place May 14-16 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Many exhibitors focused on providing glazing solutions and options to meet those demands. Take a look at five of our top picks from the show.

1. Energy

Energy efficiency remains a major focal point. Companies such as Fakro, an international supplier of skylights, have homed in on just that. The company has met demand for thermal efficiency with its flat roof window, which general manager Waldemar Szalus said is “the warmest skylight in the world.” The skylights, which were featured at the show, are available in quadruple glazing and are ideal for passive buildings.

Speaking of energy performance, Mike Turner with YKK AP said while architects still want to meet code requirements, “what we hear is not always what we’re seeing.” He explained that because the strongest codes aren’t required in all areas, the highest-performing products aren’t always the ones ultimately used.

CPI Daylighting was at the show featuring the UniQuad unitized translucent building envelope solution. Sam Wheeler, marketing, associate creative director, explained that the technology is developed for building envelopes, and combines both design and performance features.

Also combining aesthetics and performance, C.R. Laurence displayed its Entice Series. This new entrance system is designed as a premium storefront to meet and exceed the industry’s changing building codes and energy conservation requirements while still maintaining the look architects want. The series has minimal vertical lines and the ability to support door handle hardware on 1-inch insulating glass panels via specialized thru-glass fittings.

Gary Sprague, vice president of design, explained one unique feature: the door is constructed with insulating glass.

“That’s the trick,” he said. “Every handle we have could be used with this. The handle hardware goes through the glass; both lites act together, making [the door] structurally sound.”

Sprague said another feature architects like about the system is that it can be used in high-end applications calling for heavy glass doors—which typically would be single-pane—and still meet stringent codes, such as California’s Title 24.

“This preserves that high-end look. They get thermal performance and aesthetics,” he said.

2. Envelope Solutions

For many companies, the focus was on providing an entire solution for the building envelope, but just one product.

Donnie Hunter with Kawneer Co. Inc., an Alcoa company, said thermal performance and security are topics that still drive conversations with architects. One way his company has approached these requests is through product solutions for the building.

“When you add all of the products together, you can offer a solution package,” he said, speaking of the options available through Alcoa’s companies, Kawneer, Traco and Reynobond. “Owners are also driving toward a single source.”

Firestone Building Products had a similar approach. As explained by Robert Anderson, building envelope solutions manager, the company has historically been known as a supplier of roofing materials. However, it’s been nearly ten years since Firestone began working with metal panels. This is part of the message Anderson said they wanted to convey.

“We are a building envelope solutions company,” he said, “and we’re providing the transition from roof to wall.”

“Transition,” in fact, was a recurring theme on the show floor. Sika used the event as an opportunity to emphasize that it, too, provides a variety of building envelope solutions.

“The biggest challenge architects and engineers have is with transitions,” said Sika area manager Jim Frawley, adding that his company offers options from “below grade to the roof.”

One point of focus, he says, is working with architects and designers to reduce the size of the mullion with high-strength silicones and high-strength insulating glass sealants.

YKK AP returned with the next installment of its “I’m an Architect” video series.

3. Safe and Secure

Several companies focused on products and technology that can be used to create a safe and secure learning environment, particularly in K-12 schools. Sandra Matheny, director, decorative openings with Assa Abloy, said major strides have been made in the development of security hardware products for these applications. In fact, she said her company has two showrooms dedicated to K-12. Schools, she said, are looking for lock-down products as well as a prompt communication process in case of an emergency.

One product from Assa Abloy that’s been used in such applications is the Rite Touch digital glass door lock. This keyless access solution for glass openings offers flexible access control with single- or double-glass door compatibility and dual-credential access control via card reader or personal PIN code.

David Hatt with Armortrex said keeping schools safe and secure has become increasingly important.

“The largest interest [in our products] is in schools,” he said. “It’s the biggest growth we’ve seen.”

Recent safety considerations with glass are not limited to humans, either—at least that’s the case with Walker Glass’ new bird-friendly product.

Walker business development manager Marc Deschamps said an increased demand for glass that helps mitigate bird collisions has driven the company to continue to develop its Aviprotek product. Walker displayed its new Aviprotek T glass, which utilizes acid-etched lines that are visible to the bird’s eye but hardly noticeable to humans.

Glass fabricators such as General Glass International were also on site. GGI featured a variety of its decorative glasses and other capabilities.

4. Get Active

Dynamic glass continued to draw a lot of interest, with companies such as Sage Electrochromics and View Glass both featuring new developments.

SageGlass demonstrated its ability to configure electronically tintable dynamic glass with unique tinting patterns and shapes on windows, skylights and curtainwalls. This new capability is designed to allow architects and building owners to specify a variety of geometrically shaped tinting zones on a single pane of glass. Not only can different geometric zones be configured, but the glass can also be produced in non-rectangular shapes, allowing for a variety of shape-in-shape tinting-zone options.

Sage also featured its LightZone, which allows building occupants to change the tint in different sections within a single pane to any available tint level. The glass can be zoned in any configuration desired, such as within a window pane or by individual window, row, column, room or building orientation. These zones can be programmed to tint automatically in response to changing light conditions using light sensors, or to tint on-demand using an iPhone/Android wireless app, manual switches, or building management system integration.

View announced updates to its View Intelligence, which automatically responds to outdoor conditions, people’s preferences and building layout to optimize the indoor climate and the outside view. This, in turn, helps create a comfortable, productive and energy-efficient interior environment. The program now integrates with third-party data providers for the first time to create a connected predictive intelligence that not only responds to the direct environment around a building, but also now takes into account factors beyond the immediate vicinity.

Previously the glass could predict the sun’s movement and automatically adjust each window’s tint to anticipate the sun’s energy. In the new version, the glass with View Intelligence 2.0 integrates outside data streams to inform the system in new ways. As an example, this includes integrating advanced weather inputs into the tinting algorithm to predict not only the sun’s movement, but also weather conditions that are still over the horizon.

Pleotint again highlighted its thermochromic technology Suntuitive, as it did last year. However, marketing manager Jamie Selby said the company has an exciting new development in the works that will be revealed later this year.

As far as Suntuitive is concerned, she said the product is being utilized in more complex glazing projects than before.

Polytronix, meanwhile, had its LED glass and switchable blinds on display. Account manager Jennifer Rainey said her company’s product is “excellent for storefronts” because companies can feature their logo in the glass and also switch to an opaque state. “They’re getting multiple uses out of it,” she says.

Sika used the show as an opportunity to show the many solutions it offers throughout the building exterior.

5. Custom Selection

Exhibitors also featured options that allow architects to be creative with their designs. Deborah Carpenter with Kuraray said the company has been seeing interest in their SentryGlas Expressions printed interlayers.

“You have the ability to print anything you want,” she said. “You could even just print a custom color.”

Carpenter added that another feature architects like is the design flexibility the product provides.

“They’re challenging the limits of what glass can do,” she said.

The door and window sector in particular has put a big emphasis on customization of late, particularly with large-scale products for both high-end residential and commercial applications.

One company featuring both was Panda Windows & Doors, which displayed its lift-and-slide glass wall system.

The system provides limited sightline interference and can be moved with the push of a finger. Other key features include its “barefoot-friendly track,” as well as the weather-tight seal the door provides when it drops and secures in the track in the lock position.

Clara Blake, Midwest regional manager, said no two Panda projects are alike—whether it’s in the high-end residential area or the commercial sector.

Kolbe Windows and Doors also showed off some customization, but from an automated standpoint. The company showed its automation systems technology for its multi-slide pocket doors, lift-and-slide doors, swing doors, awnings and casements.

Product and market manager Lance Premeau said the in-home automation market is ripe and that his company is more than happy to meet the demand head-on.

Doors and windows were aplenty throughout the show floor, as companies like WeatherShield showed their newest and most popular products.

the author

Ellen Rogers and Nick St. Denis are the editor and assistant editor
of USGlass magazine, respectively. Follow USGlass on Twitter @USGlass and like USGlass on Facebook to receive updates.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.