Volume 50, Issue 5 - May 2015
An Inside Job
Contract glaziers say the use of glass in interior applications has been increasing, as it can help allow more natural light into the building.
✔ Etched glass
“It’s still on the rise,” says Ryan Gagne, project estimator for Galaxy Glass & Aluminum in Manchester, N.H., of interior glass applications. “Especially with renovations, making [existing buildings] fresh for new clients.”
Gagne knows a thing or two about the subject; interior glass makes up roughly 40 percent of Galaxy’s business. And, as he points out, the retrofit market has been ripe for these makeovers.
He says the recovering construction economy has resulted in “owners coming to the table with projects that are ready to go,” and that he’s now seeing more new construction, a sign that the industry is rolling on all cylinders.
“There’s more that can be done with glass today than ever before,” says Jim Gulnick, engineering director of McGrory Glass, based in Paulsboro, N.J.
And with the increased demand for unique applications, interior glass poses challenges for the glazier, as well as the fabricator.
Demand for Perfection
Where’s it At?
One of a Kind
So what exactly are the applications?
Whether it’s aesthetic, functional, decorative or structural—providing lighting, privacy or aesthetics—interior applications of glass continue to evolve as the building material’s capabilities grow. As that potential is realized, glaziers find themselves working on increasingly unique interior glass projects.
One example of Galaxy’s more “unusual” installations, according to Gagne, was for AVID Technologies’ corporate offices in Burlington, Mass.
For that project, Galaxy built a 3⁄4-inch, tempered glass vitrine around existing steel columns, which incorporated projective and holographic display glazing from HoloPro and Stewart Film. The project also included several custom glass cases that used one-way mirror glazing and internal light to house numerous awards AVID had on display.
John Faour, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Faour Glass Technologies, foresees more applications of images projected onto glass, as well as the use of mirror-to-TV technology.
Faour says the use of images on glass will evolve as more owners and designers find ways to incorporate them into their projects—and as costs continue to become more reasonable.
Anthony Branscum, vice president of architectural sales at Plainview, N.Y.-based Innovative Glass Corp., says he’s seen an increase in demand for combining switchable glass technology with other types of glass, such as bullet-resistant applications for defense purposes or printed glass decorative options.
“We’re getting some more intricate requests than we have in the past,” he says.
Back to Basics
Glass walls are not new, but owners and architects continue to find reasons to implement them into the buildings. One major reason is occupants’ demand for natural light, a key driver of the growing use of glass in interior settings.
“We’re seeing more and more open designs that borrow light from the environment and bring it into the office,” says Gulnick.
“You now have layers of glass walls,” adds Faour. “The exterior is one layer, but there might be one or two more layers inside, as architects and builders want to bring the light all the way through.”
Gagne adds that he sees glass walls and frameless glass doors primarily in offices and corporate suites, and that they now include interesting features such as hidden locks. Those applications continue into the tenant space, he says, as the front walls of the offices themselves.
Structural glazing has also crept into the interior mainstream as comfort levels increase. With this, technology continues to grow. The term “walking on glass” is shedding what once might have been a negative connotation, translating into more glass floors and staircases.
“There are more and more glass flooring applications and glass treads on staircases than there might have been a few years ago,” says Faour. “The architectural community is realizing that glass is very durable—in addition to being really pretty—and they’re no longer afraid of putting it on a walking surface.”
Nick St. Denis is an assistant
editor for USGlass magazine. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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