A Bad Rap on Glass
I enjoyed reading the article about railing glass breakage (see October
2011 USGlass, page 32). Since we have been using glass in our railing
systems since the early 1970s, you can imagine the book we could write
on this subject!
Our company has a lot of faith in tempered glass. We have our own test
lab and, along with structural analysis, we physically test every handrail
system we build, whether it is our own design or custom. Heavy tempered
glass is an extremely strong product which, if used properly, designed
in a system properly and installed properly, will out-perform other railing
materials. We have seen no increase in railing breakage with the influx
of foreign glass products. In fact, we have seen better edge quality supplied
from foreign vendors due to the fact they may have invested in modern
equipment whereas U.S. fabricators have been reluctant to do so.
In our experience, laminated glass is not a product for hand railings,
especially when used with ¼-inch tempered glass. We have physically
tested this many times and feel the ¼-inch glass is not sufficient
for the load calculations required in handrail systems. It is also more
delicate to handle during installation.
We believe glass is getting a bad rap. It is our opinion the real issue
causing breakage is the fact that some clients think building glass handrails
is easy. There is a common theme in the marketplace that you can design
and order the glass panels and buy all the hardware online from various
sources and “do it yourself.” Speaking from experience, this is a menu
for disaster. Right now there are many companies specializing in the parts
and pieces business. This is not a bad thing, but many times these parts
have not been tested in a system and “system” is the key word. Railing
systems are not a collaboration of a kit of parts, cobbled together (sometimes
in the field) with the end result being a high-performance railing system
capable of withstanding combined forces as described in calculations.
Calculations impact design and so on and so forth.
Companies that specialize in railings understand this and know there are
no shortcuts to safety and quality.
President, Livers Bronze Co.
Kansas City, Mo.
I’m writing in regard to the article “A Tale of Three Cities—and Lots
of Broken Glass” (see October 2011 USGlass, page 32). Andersson-Wise Architects
is mentioned in the article; this firm is the design architect, but not
the architect of record, for the W Austin Hotel & Residences. Andersson-Wise
did not make any of the glass specifications for the W Austin project.
BOKA Powell of Dallas is the architect of record. We are wondering if
a correction could be issued to clarify that there were two firms involved
at the W.
As the article stands now, it could lead a reader to think Andersson-Wise
was involved in the glass selection, which was not the case.
John van Duyl
PR For Andersson Wise Architects
Editor’s Note: A representative of BOKA Powell Architects confirmed
that the firm was the architect of record on the W Austin but declined
to comment further until the issue is fully resolved.
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