Keith Boswell Tells Annual Conference Attendees What Architects Really Want

Keith Boswell

Keith Boswell

In addition to the many committee and division meetings that have taken place all week as part of the Glass Association of North America’s Annual Conference, attendees had the chance yesterday to learn about some of the world’s newest architectural glazing projects. Keith Boswell, technical director for Skidmore Owings and Merrill in San Francisco, gave a presentation in which he showed some of his firm’s recently constructed and even under-construction projects that use glass extensively and in unique ways. He also gave attendees a bit of insight into the question: what do architects want?

“The more technical information on glass we can get the better,” he said.

Boswell explained that when designing projects and using glass in ways they’ve never used it before, having as much information as possible is helpful.

“Sometimes it’s tough to find information on glass when you’re using it in ways not normally done,” he said.

He also noted that “communication is a huge deal,” explaining, for example, that when architects are presenting designs to builders it’s helpful to be able to show them as much of the design process as possible.

In that regard he said, “Mock-ups are huge; they allow the owner to see what [the project] will look like before you go off and build it.”

Taking a look at some of his firm’s projects, Boswell said it’s been refreshing to see private-sector work starting to come back. Likewise, he said his company also has been doing a lot of renovations over the last few years, including quite a few lobby remodels that are being designed to incorporate as much glass as possible to bring in more natural light.

While many of his firm’s projects use glass extensively for natural light, there’s at least one project that used glass purely for its aesthetics: a windowless glass building. He explained that due to the nature of the building’s purpose and the work done there it could have no windows, but still incorporated a glass façade over the base substrate material.

“Glass is a material all architects enjoy … and we enjoy using it in clever and imaginative ways,” he said. “We want to understand it; the more you can provide the better we’ll be.”

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