Volume 44, Issue 6 - June 2009

Feature

Glass andArchitects A Review of the AIA Convention in San Francisco 
A Review of the AIA Convention in San Francisco 

by Megan Headley and Ellen Rogers

Reaction to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Annual Convention in San Francisco was mixed. Initially many glass-related exhibitors expressed doubt that the aisles would ever fill, as attendees trickled into the Moscone Center on April 30. There were definite hot spots on the trade show floor throughout the three-day event, and many of those companies that had seen limited traffic were pleased with the focused attention they received from the attending architects by the time the show closed on May 2. 

There certainly was plenty of glass to see from the more than 60 glass-related exhibitors. Among those products that were new to the show floor were such trendy offerings as decorative and solar glass. However, many of the products on display had been introduced at previous conventions, and several exhibitors confessed to showcasing “the same old thing.”

Those “same old” offerings may have been a result of strategies for waiting out the construction downturn, but yet another surprise on the show floor was the number of businesses sharing news about growth and recent expansions amidst this troubled economy.

Business as Usual
While there was some question as to how the economy would impact the show’s attendance, a number of exhibitors said that they’ve remained not only unscathed but strong throughout the construction downturn. 

According to Douglas Mahler, business development manager for Sheffield Plastics Inc., “The stimulus dollars are coming through now,” a fact that is leading to more government-type projects that would require use of protective products such as the company’s polycarbonate sheet products.

“This is a great show for us,” Mahler added. “Probably everyone that has come by has a need where we can help them.”

Dave Hewitt, director of marketing of EFCO Corp. noted that the Monett, Mo.-based company is looking to hire a number of people as blast and government projects carry the manufacturer through the construction downturn. “Schools have been our bellwether,” Hewitt said. 

Others also were excited to talk about how they’ve been able to grow their businesses through new locations and expansions. Ross Deeter, regional manager for Novum Structures, said the company has grown domestically and internationally. 

“We’re taking the economic slowdown in stride, but we’re still moving forward because we know the market will pick back up,” Deeter said. The company recently opened new offices in Dallas, San Francisco, Florida, Germany, England, France, Turkey and India.

Tom O’Malley, vice president of sales for Doralco, noted that the Alsip, Ill.-based company “started a composite panel business about a year ago.” He commented that the business helps his company to meet another need of many of its current customers. The company remains busy with a number of high-end projects. 

Sales manager Jessy Servol revaled that Klein USA Inc. has a new warehouse facility in Elizabeth N.J. Although its products are manufactured in Spain, the five-month-old facility was established to help expand the company’s reach. 

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Materials has been much in the news in recent months following several acquisitions (see February 2009 USGlass, page 14), and its representatives showed at the convention that they’re far from done making a splash. Over the next six months the company is aiming to increase production of commercial glass and window products until that segment makes up approximately 70 percent of its business. 

Energy Exhibits and Education 
As has been the trend in recent years (see June 2008 USGlass, page 18, for last year’s AIA review), architects came to the convention looking for information about energy-efficient products. 

“Because of sustainability in buildings we’ve been looking at low-E glasses really carefully,” said Glenn Rescalvo with Handel Architects LLP in San Francisco. “We’re looking at the coatings that are applied to them and how we can use them to reduce heat gain and mechanical loads in the buildings. Fritted glass also works great; we can use it to the maximum 70 to 80 percent frit and still get visibility while also reducing our heat loads.” 

Ben Tranel, an architect with Gensler, also in San Francisco, was interested in sustainability and energy performance. He was especially interested in glass with a frit on the exterior surface. 

“Up until now we’ve always used frit on the [inside surface] and on a lot of our projects we’re looking for ways to put it on the exterior to create a real contrast on the exterior reflectivity,” Tranel said. He also was searching for sustainability in the way of triple-glazed insulating glass units and argon-filled glass, as well as the “next generation” of high performance low-E coatings.

Edgetech I.G. Inc. had in its booth a Pittsburgh Corning glass block that it’s helping to insulate, combining energy performance with style. The new energy-efficient glass block features a low-E coated lite sandwiched inside the block to filter out solar heat gain, and sealed courtesy of Edgetech. 

However, among the most energy-efficient products at the show were those actually generating energy.

“It also seems like everyone has building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels displayed in their booths. It’s something we have not really used yet, but it’s something everybody seems to be offering,” Tranel observed. 

Guardian Industries was one such company spotlighting BIPV. The company utilizes thin film technology, based on copper-indium-sulfide (CIS) technology, in its modules as the company says this technology has greater absorption properties than others and provides thin, efficient modules with an attractive neutral gray/black appearance. 

Although the big model in the booth was two modules laminated together, Chris Dolan, director, commercial glass program, noted, “We can make these in larger sizes from two, three, four modules laminated together.” The standard size module from the company measures 26 by 50 inches. Guardian’s display, which was fabricated in cooperation with JE Berkowitz LP and Eureka Metal & Glass Services, simulated the energy produced through BIPV in a laminated and insulating glass unit.

For some solar exhibitors, visibility was key.Arch Aluminum and Glass in Tamarac, Fla., and Konarka Technologies Inc., a solar plastic film producer based in New Bedford, Mass., used the show as an opportunity to announce a joint development agreement. Under the agreement, the companies will develop a line of semi-transparent, glass BIPV products called Active Solar Glass® (ASG). 

According to Max Perilstein, Arch’s vice president of marketing, the product “will change the world of BIPV. The key is that you will be able to see through our BIPV” (see article on page 24).

Schüco brought its E2 façade to San Francisco. The façade combines decentralized ventilation, automated opening units, solar shading and solar energy generation with the latest thin-film technology—all in one aesthetically pleasing package. According to Rick Shetterly, who helped to man that booth, the E2 lites, now in the final stages of development, create enough energy to operate themselves. 

PPG Industries showcased its Solarphire AR (anti-reflective) glass, which is engineered to maximize solar energy transmission to solar-collecting PV cells. Many architects stopped by the booth interested in the product, said James Bogdan, manager of green building initiatives for PPG.

Decorative Highlights
While performance, in the way of green and sustainability, were high priorities for attendees, so, too, was appearance. From color, to patterns, textures and even a combination of all three, attendees found plenty of new decorative glass. 

“Architects are very interested in decorative glass,” said Jeff Nichols, vice president of sales and marketing for Standard Bent Glass. His company now has the equipment to manufacture compound, complex bent/curved glass. “We can bend the glass into 3-D shapes,” said Nichols, who added with their laminating capabilities they can also create decorative, curved, safety/security glass. “That’s something else we’re seeing—the combination of safety or ballistic glass that’s also decorative,” Nichols added.

Digitally printed glass products were among some of the newest developments at the show. NGI Designer Glass actually showcased its booth, which was constructed to feature its brand new product: SubliStyle. The product involves the reproduction of digital, high-definition photography and artwork onto glass. It was co-developed with VanDijken Glas out of Amsterdam and together they are partnering with Peter Sterling, an Amsterdam-based photographer who has contracts with a number of museums to photograph many of the world’s masterpieces. General Glass International promoted its new direct-to-glass digitally printing capabilities. Richard Balik, vice president of sales, said there was much interest in the product, brand-named Alice. 

“Architects are excited about all of the applications in which this can be used,” he said. “The process involves ink-jet printing a permanent ceramic frit image onto glass, which will not fade. It’s also possible to print large formats onto glass.”

Oldcastle Glass® introduced its digital printed glass, i-Glass™. The process also involves printing the images directly onto glass. The company says it can even replicate the look of wood or marble.

Acid-etched products also were well represented. For Walker Glass its patterned acid-etched glass and mirrors were a key focus. Marc Deschamps, business development manager, says, “We are trying to educate the architects and the design community on the products and ways that they can be used, both interior and exterior.” 

Likewise, Guardian Industries introduced SunGuard SatinDeco glass, which combines the energy-saving properties of SunGuard architectural glass with the acid-etched quality and aesthetics of SatinDeco.

Likewise, Goldray displayed an array of decorative options, from printed glass for walls and partitions; products for floors and stairs; and even its new marker boards, which Cathie Saroka, marketing director, said got tremendous feedback from attendees. AGEllen Rogers is the editor and Megan Headley is a contributing editor of the Architects’ Guide to Glass.

Ellen Rogers is the editor and Megan Headley is a contributing editor of the Architects’ Guide to Glass.

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USG

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