The New Normal  
Adapting to Changing Requirements  
for Glass Railing Systems  
by Ellen Rogers  
The Mayo Clinic Square  
in Minneapolis features SC  
Railing’s Dot series, a glass  
and stainless railing with  
trapezoidal post design. The system  
provides a complementary design  
aesthetic without detracting from  
the surrounding visual interest.  
52  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | June 2017  
www.usglassmag.com  
othing matters more than safety. offset the momentum for their use,” says require some education with regards to  
That was the logic behind the Stachel. “I think the architectural com- product options,and the packaging and  
2015 International Building munity understands the code change storing of laminated glass on jobsites  
Code (IBC) revision, which made the and knows they can rarely use monolithic will be new to some customers.”  
use of laminated glass a requirement in glass. Occasionally we run into a project  
most glass railing applications. While with an older specification, code, etc. … SeAanryctihminegthfeorers Aa ncosdwe echrasnge there  
the code lays out the details in terms of but generally the design community has  
N
what to use, when and where, it means made the shift.”  
little until it’s adopted. Andrew Chatfield, director of archi- certainly been true in the case of glass  
Some jurisdictions still follow older tectural railing systems for the Wagner railing applications.  
will be questions to address. That’s  
versions of the IBC, but now many en- Companies based in Milwaukee, agrees  
“Do I need a cap rail? How high can  
force the 2015 version.One thing about the change has been positive, and says I go with the glass? How far can I space  
codes, though, is they are not always awareness of the requirements is increas- the posts? The answers to these ques-  
easily understood by everyone on the ing.“But there’s still some confusion as to tions are dependent on a few factors  
building and construction team. And what they really should be doing and how such as the type of system being used,  
that means there can be a lot of ques- it’s applied,how loads apply,etc.There are or whether the railing is for interior or  
tions.As the popularity of glass railings still lots of questions.”  
exterior use,” says Clifford of common  
in both interior and exterior applica- For installers, though, they’ve questions he hears. “Other consider-  
tions continues to grow, many in the adapted easily to the change in codes. ations include what building code is  
industry are working diligently to keep George Harriott, general manager of being used, what the glass thickness  
architects, fabricators and installers Harriott Contracting in Columbia, is, what substrate is present (e.g. wood,  
educated about the products.  
Md., says his company does a lot of steel or concrete),what type of interlayer  
glass railing installation, including is being used, and is the railing being  
WIhtsebreeenamreoreWtheanNtowwo y?ears since the many sports arenas. He says they have used as a guardrail or a simple divider?”  
definitely seen an increase in the use of  
Many of the questions Chatfield hears  
often relate to the glass, such as what’s  
new code took effect,and so far the results laminated glass.  
have been positive, according to some in  
the railing industry.While the code may to 90 percent of it is easily laminated challenges, he points out, is there’s not  
have changed the way some projects were glass,” he says. one specific point of contact the archi-  
being designed, as Brian Clifford, direc-  
As an installer, Harriott says the new tects can go to get all of their questions  
“Probably on what we deal with, 70 the appropriate thickness? So one of the  
tor, architectural railing and metals for code requirements have had little im- answered. In addition, he says he’s see-  
Los Angeles-based C.R.Laurence Co.Inc. pact on their business, since the mate- ing more demand for test report data.  
“I’m being asked to provide more sup-  
explains,architects adapt.  
“They are very attentive when it  
rials come to them finished.  
“We do have a lot more detailed in- portive data going forward. People are  
comes to discussing codes and under- formation on the product itself,” he referencing ASTM and are now asking  
standing changes in them. This is be- says, explaining they need the addi- more in-depth questions about calcula-  
cause they have to deal with codes all tional information as often there are tions and the [system] support, as well  
the time,”he says,explaining that codes more questions from the end user that as the other criteria to meet,”he says.  
are always a topic of conversation.  
they need to be able to answer. “We get  
However, when it comes to overall a lot of support from the product team AeOsntehectoincceCrhnabnrgouegshttoabCoountsbiydethre  
awareness around what’s required for beforehand,” he adds, explaining the  
glass railings, that tends to vary.  
suppliers provide the details they need new code relates to the design aesthetic.  
Meeting architects’ desire for a clean,  
“Some days it feels like everyone in to provide the end users, etc.  
the industry is on the same page.Other  
According to Annette Panning, di- smooth edge can be a challenge with  
days it feels like no one is on the same rector, marketing and product man- laminated glass. In these applications,  
page,”says Clifford.“It will take time for agement for Viracon, her company exposed edges aren’t necessarily as at-  
everyone to be in agreement regarding supports the change and doesn’t expect tractive as monolithic tempered glass.  
the latest codes in terms of adoption, the new code to create a significant  
compliance and interpretation.”  
change, other than possibly providing building projects coded under IBC  
According to Dan Stachel, vice presi- additional product information for 2015 with glass railings specified will  
dent with SC Railing in Minneapolis,the some customers. require laminated tempered glass when  
awareness of the new code is growing, “Not only does lamination provide a walking surface exists below (Section  
and architects in particular are more the obvious benefit of minimizing glass 2407),” says Clifford, explaining this  
and more in tune to the requirements. particle fallout if there is breakage,it ex- means the glass lites will typically have  
“Glass fabricators understand that  
popular, and the code changes haven’t ings,” she says. “This change will likely  
Glass railing systems continue to be pands the design options for glass rail-  
continued on page 54  
www.usglassmag.com  
June 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
53  
TcohnteinuNedefwromNpaogre m53al  
The SRS Standoff Railing System from CR  
Laurence gives this Los Angeles corporate  
office a clean, transparent aesthetic.  
two to four exposed glass edges.“Fab-  
For example, when it comes to the Chatfield. “I think we’ve come light-  
ricators are now improving their man- interlayer, Chatfield says many people years from what we were doing.  
ufacturing processes when it comes fall back on PVB, not knowing about There’s greater awareness now, and  
to edge quality. Double arris polished other options available.  
edges were the norm in the past. Now  
that’s driving the codes to be more  
specific about glass railings rather  
we are seeing external arris edges and TheThEedreuscaahtuiogenePdurcoactieonssprocess for than metal [railings]”  
seamed internal edges, which typically  
require post polishing.”  
Stachel adds,“The architectural com-  
Clifford adds that manufacturers must  
step up and help increase the under-  
And as far as installation concerns, standing and awareness around what’s  
the use [of laminated glass],” he says.  
munity has been receptive to what the Clifford says installers can be put into required for glass railing applications.  
code requires and what that means for two categories. “They need to spread the word on  
the design.” He says fabricators have “The first review the drawings, read codes within the industry through  
taken strides to continually improve the the specifications,determine the build- active involvement,” he says. “When it  
aesthetics and quality of their laminated ing code, do a take-off, ask questions, comes to a specific project, all stake-  
glass.“I tip my hat to the glass fabricators and then bid the project,” he says.“The holders are responsible for making  
for delivering high-quality products. I second throw a number at the project sure the building is being constructed  
think they have stepped up and are deliv- and worry about it after they get the per code.”  
ering an exceptional product.”  
Still, Chatfield says the concern over don’t think this will ever change.”  
the exposed edges is one that’s not over-  
job. Regardless of changes in codes, I  
Chatfield adds, “The move to lam-  
inated glass was absolutely the right  
Chatfield adds,“I think, from the us- move. We’re going the right way and  
looked. The biggest challenge with the er’s [installer] perspective, they need that’s having the codes crafted as  
shift toward laminated glass remains in to make sure they fully understand the being safety products, which is what  
achieving that desired aesthetic.  
codes and the application of the codes. they are.” n  
“It’s difficult to achieve a consistent, The fabricator is relying on manufac-  
smooth edge when you have the inter- turers in the supply chain. So they  
layer,” he says. “It’s in essence making must get the support they need  
sure whatever product is selected is from the supply chain above them.”  
E l l e n R o g e r s is the  
editor of USGlass magazine.  
Follow her on Twitter @  
EllenGRogers and like her on  
Facebook at usgellenrogers  
to receive updates.  
used the way it’s supposed to be used  
and] a lot goes back to what glass is evolving,and work is already being  
needed for the desired results? I think done on the 2018 version.  
Building codes are constantly  
[
that’s our challenge—we have to bring  
a level of support to the market.”  
“We’re going in a positive di-  
rection (with the codes),” says  
54  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | June 2017  
www.usglassmag.com  

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