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Ready for Our Close-Up1  
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aybe it was because the Academy Awards were going to be the follow-  
ing Sunday. Or maybe because, in light of this, I had just heard a list of  
the top ten best movie lines of all time (number one was Rhett Butler’s  
Contributing Tara Taffera, vice president  
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Trey Barrineau  
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn ). But whatever the reason, listening to the  
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participants on the“Design and Fabrication of Large-Sized Glass”panel at GANA’s  
Building Envelope Contractors Conference last month brought number three on  
that list to mind:“You’re going to need a bigger boat.” Indeed.  
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To hear panelists James Cole of AGNORA, Jeff Haber of W&W Glass and Kelly  
Schuller of Viracon tell it, size doesn’t matter all that much. That is, glass is still  
made the same way, only bigger. None of the three panelists perceived any insur-  
mountable problems with its fabrication, other than scheduling.  
It’s once that glass is fabricated and needs to be transported that the bigger boat  
comes in.  
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“You have to be able to move it,” said Cole, “that’s the challenging part.”“You  
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have to be able to truck it, to move it, to lift it, set it and even figure out how to  
turn corners,“ said Haber.“ Most places where it would be installed usually limit  
the hours you can work there too. So every step of the way, you have to figure out  
how to move, lift and install it,” he said while pictures of large-sized glass, some  
being installed with as many as 24 suctions on vacuum lifts, were shown on the  
screen.And you don’t want to break it.  
I think we forget sometimes that glass starts out as a continuous ribbon that is  
cut into pieces. Larger-sized glass means less frequent cuts. Making it is easy, it’s  
the fabrication and the movement that’s the tough part.  
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You could tell none of the panelists had any fear about working with the largest  
of the large.They are comfortable working with these gargantuan planes of silica.  
Yet, in order to gain acceptance, two other groups must increase their comfort  
level as well: contract glaziers and architects.  
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I have confidence in the glazing contractors. Savvy contract glaziers have been  
coordinating logistics such as these for years. They are used to staging every sec-  
ond of every-sized glass lite’s trek to its final home. The fear comes in the ramifi-  
cations when something goes wrong.“You obviously can’t replace it the next day,”  
said Schuller, reminding the group how important precision logistics are.  
Just as glazing contractors have learned to install everything from the largest to the  
most obscure types of glass over the years,I have no doubt the installation of large-  
size lites will become routine for them one day—if the architects come along.  
And there’s the dirty little paradox of glass,the titanic titan of the tin bath4 (yes,  
I am sticking with the movie analogies): architects are rather fearful of designing  
them. Oh sure, those starchitects pushing the (building) envelope are designing  
with these large-sizers, even building demand. Yet the average architect ranges  
from wary to downright afraid of designing with these larger lites.  
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I recently spoke with an architect who was looking to eliminate mullions and  
framing on the entrance side of a car dealership. “You’re in luck,” I said tri-  
umphantly. “They are now fabricating much larger expanses of glass and you  
should be able to fill this whole opening with one continuous piece of glass.”  
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“Oh no, I don’t want to get into that,” he answered.“Too much risk, too much  
engineering required,” he said, whatever that means.  
This sentiment is similar to other variations I’ve heard.So maybe,“what we have here  
is a failure to communicate.” Or maybe it’s the architects who need the bigger boat.  
1Sunset Blvd, 1950; 2Gone with the Wind, 1939; 3Jaws; 1975; 4Titanic, 1997; 5Cool Hand Luke, 1967  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | March 2016