Volume 48, Issue 7- July 2013
Larger Than Lite
One of the reasons that I look forward to the annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Annual Convention is because it’s all there: the truly new products, the next-generation variations and the fine-tuned permutations all find their way there for the gaggle of gathering architects to see. Such was the case last month when the AIA Show ’13 held in Denver. Here’s my first three take-away:
• How Large Can You Go? Put this one in the truly new and exciting category: a continuous lite of laminated glass, no mullions, 46-feet long. Developed by the German fabricator seele (who you may also know for its contract glazing work here in the United States), the lite was a 126-inch high marvel. You can read more about it on page 64, but in the meantime please consider the following two extraordinary points about the product.
First, it’s not the largest piece that seele has made. North American president Attila Arian allowed as how there is a 49-foot long one still back in Germany but that it was not quite deemed transportation-ready. So, like the four-minute mile, this record is going to be broken over and over again for longer and longer lites.
Second, and even more importantly, is the story of how this larger-than-lite came to be. It was developed by seele for a customer—a customer that continued to push up against the limits of what existed and look beyond into what was possible. Given its unique qualifications as a fabricating-contract glazing hybrid, seele undertook and met the challenge.
The AIA Show reinforced for me how many ideas architects have about glass products of the future. You don’t even have to ask; most are happy to tell you what they want to use, how it should look and the performance characteristics it should have. What seele did reminds us not to shut our minds to what doesn’t exist yet, because, as John Lennon said, there really is nothing you can do that can’t be done.
• Is that in 3D too? I had not yet seen the new generation of 3D printers in action but they were all over the AIA show floor disintermediating long-time industries like any good computer technology would. The 3-D printers will soon eliminate the scaled model makers and allow architectural firms to make their own mock-ups and models. Just give it another year or two. And with the emergence of software such as Oldcastle’s BIM IQ, and other BIM and energy calculation programs, I predict that eventually scaled models will include accurate and changing sun shading throughout the day, as well as calculations of changes to the buildings energy load based on them.
• Shame on us, again. It was a nice show floor. The stone industry had a great pavilion, the wood industry had a joint message, I think even the brick guys had a group marketing effort. But the glass industry …. uh, not so much. Not at all, in fact. If ever there was a group before which the industry should put forth a common message of energy-efficiency and cohesiveness, it’s the architects. But this was not to be and this is why we get pummeled by groups like ASHRAE. They count on us to be disjointed. I talked to a few manufacturers about it and most liked the idea but each, in their own way, said the same thing “oh wait til our lawyers get a hold of this, they will never let us do it.” And that is a real shame.
• Speaking of ASHRAE, please be sure to read Ellen Roger’s in-depth report on the issues surrounding window-to-wall ratios on page 40. Ellen has written a lot of excellent articles over the years, and I believe this to be one of the absolute best. It provides a lot of background on the non-ending “battle for the wall.” I am happy to report that our industry did an excellent job of raising issue with ASHRAE’s proposed amendment to its 189.1 standard, Standard for the Design of High Performance, Green Buildings (see page 20 for details). Stay tuned to the USGlass News Network (www.usgnn.com) and my blog at http://deblog.usglassmag.com for updates as they occur.