Volume 47, Issue 6 - June 2012
Five Top Trends at AIA
Much of our staff recently attended the annual American Institute of Architects’ Annual Convention and Expo in Washington, D.C., where I saw a number of recurring themes, including these five top glass trends.
1. Dynamic and solar control glass a-go-go: The primary manufacturers were out in semi-force (two missing) touting new and advanced products for solar control and energy efficiency. PPG Industries and Pleotint teamed up to present Suntuitive. It changes shading based on temperature and is easy to install, according to PPG’s Joanne Funyak; Honeymooners Saint-Gobain and Sage Electrochomic were discussing a future of joint products (though they still had separate booths). Saint-Gobain also displayed electrochromic microlouvers available with both fixed and dynamic daylight control; and Guardian Industries’ product offerings included an innovative new photovoltaic system.
2. It’s a screen; no wait, now it’s mirror: Great strides have been made in allowing huge expanses of glass to be used for projection. In the past, issues with tints and lack of ability to offer reflective products remained. But not anymore. NSG, Guardian and Schott displayed products that could display TV, movies, really any digital input, when in use and look just like mirror when dormant. And these products can now be provided in large sizes to create spectacular-sized mirror that converts to serve a screen function.
3. The Wall comes of age: We aren’t talkin’ Pink Floyd here, but the glass window wall, which keeps stretching higher and wider. Klein USA, Panda Windows and Doors and Nanawall all showed new variations of a product that continues to grow in use. The popularity of outdoor living, coupled with a desire to bring nature indoors, has kept these products developing and expanding.
4. Something even an anti-terrorist would love: Maybe it was the influence of the nearby International Spy Museum (or maybe it was the Security Product Expo going on upstairs), but glass this year took on an expanded role as a security and anti-terrorism product. NSG introduced a product so new that it hasn’t even been named yet … the product actually is a mirror pane coating that is used in police buildings, anywhere with surveillance, but now is being used on clear glass products. LTI Smart Glass showed some pretty amazing artistic designs of extremely thick glass-clad polycarbonates. You would never suspect they were blast-resistance products, but then again that’s the whole idea.
5. Decorative diorama: The variety and types of glass products offered for decorative and interior use is breath-taking. New colors, textures, reliefs and designs all have come of age, and now offer sophistication at some very decent price points. If a designer can dream it, they can find it.
The most surprising thing was how much an event like this takes on the character of the city it’s in. I never realized this before. Whereas AIA’s convention in New Orleans last year was a bit rowdy and jazzed up, this year’s at the convention center in Washington, D.C., was more conservative and sedate, yet full of serious business.
Most exhibitors reported higher traffic levels than last year and the movement of the show around the country (next year to Denver in June) has been received positively. Reviews of the show’s effectiveness were mixed, however. As one exhibitor pointed out, “We never really know until 9, 10 months from now if AIA bore fruit.” Indeed.