• Field Notes 03.03.2010

    Despite a request as a blog topic, I am not going to expound on why the Coybows (spelling intended!!!) are the greatest football team ever. One, they are not. I believe the Steelers of the ’70s or recent editions of the NE Pats might fit that category. Two, and much to my regret, I cannot claim that the team of my youth even comes close to our cross-state rivals in the Steel City, let alone the Coybows. Three, until my dying breath, I cannot, will not, and shall not bring myself to even consider writing, saying, thinking or contemplating the C-bs as the best team ever. Tom Landry-coached teams beat the Eagles way too many times when I was young.

    I got started in curtainwall in Dallas. Again, much to my regret, an unforeseen consequence was moving my sons to Dallas in their formative years, and now they are loyal Cowboys fans. Some mistakes you pay for your entire life.

    Whodathunkit? Leaving football aside, there have been many glazing technical advancements over the years that still amaze me:

    • We can hold glass onto buildings with a glue called structural silicone. And some pretty big lites of glass in some pretty stiff winds don’t fall off. All without three-quarters of their surface covered in structural silicone sealant. The attention that is and must be paid so this works, from design, testing, fabrication and installation is still enthralling!

    • Curtain wall that can rock and roll in an earthquake. The idea of unitized curtain wall, coming out of California (I think) in the late ’70s and early ’80s in direct response to seismic, has so overtaken the industry that a lot of buildings in active or inactive seismic zones apply the concepts to their project. The delivery time through engineering is quite a bit more severe than for stick walls, but it’s unlikely this concept will ever go away. There are too many pluses to it onsite: quicker installation times, lower storage and hoisting times, tighter performing walls.

    • Aluminum extrusions. At relatively low cost, if an architect designs it, it can be extruded. And circle sizes, once usually held to shapes that fit inside an 8” diameter, are now being pushed out to 12”, 15” and one die I saw at the Getty Museum had to be 5” wide by 15” tall, with five hollows in it. Now that’s a heck of a paperweight!

    • Cable walls. Mullions and horizontals not required. Put up a bunch of really big cables, pull them to tension loads of anywhere from 20,000 to 75,000 lbs, and then attach glass to them.

    • Hurricane-resistant glazing that incorporates glass as an ACTIVE component to protect people and property. I would have bet that glass could not still offer the views and sunlight to the interior AND stay in an opening during a hurricane. Who do we owe kudos to for suggesting laminated glass can work? Cycle a BROKEN lite of glass 7,000 times, and it stays in the opening?

    And then Hurricane Alicia happened to Southern Florida. Four hurricanes went through Orlando in 2005 – one of them being Katrina – and none of the properties built to the codes revised after Alicia suffered any large-scale property damage. And still we build with glass in these areas! Florida’s codes are now models the world over. Whodathunkit?

    • Blast-resistant glazing. Okay, while none of us would stand behind a glass window knowing a bomb was going off outside, can you believe we can protect occupants with glass? And if it happens again (hopefully it won’t, God willing), we won’t have to suffer the degree of injury from flying glass of so many that day in Oklahoma City.

    Some of these advancements came about because someone sat down and said it could be done differently. They foresaw the advantages, either aesthetically or wanting to do something no one had done before. I think that’s where cable walls came from. Glass mullions, too, probably. Unitized walls as well.

    Some we learn about from disasters, such as what we’ve learned from 9/11, hurricanes and the OKC bombing. The airline/airplane industry does this a lot. A plane goes down, the investigators come up with the cause, and the industry reacts. They say “experience” is what you get just after you needed it.

    But finally, the thing that amazes me the most: The architectural drawings come out, the shop drawings are prepared, and finally the day comes when the 2-D images become real, live 3-D parts. And after a little cajoling, the parts are made to fit together and are assembled into buildings. It takes months, but to see things move from paper to real building that people live and work in. That to me is simply amazing.

    And now, two of my kids work in buildings I had a hand in building the curtain wall for. What goes around has come around far sooner and closer to home than ever could be imagined.

    Posted by Blogger @ 11:31 am

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