From whodathunkit to waznex?
If I had a crystal ball, I’d sell insurance. But trying to predict what the industry will do in 20 years? The Glass Association of North American should have a contest: make your suggestions for 10, 20 years from now, and someone opens them at that point, and see how silly or realistic the expectations were. TWA (remember them?) did this in the 1950s, and the winner suggested travelers would be able to drop off bags at the airport curbside, and they would be at the destination within 30 minutes of your arrival. That was really far-fetched then. You had to carry your bags through the airport to the plane and pick them up when you got off. No one knew what a baggage handler was.
So here goes – here are some ideas for what the future of curtainwall will include:
- Stronger materials. Will carbon fiber make its way into framing materials? If not carbon, then what other materials? Or shapes? Boeing just had the maiden flight of its next generation of planes, the 787, made from a large portion of carbon-reinforced parts.
- A different, clear glazing material that is more energy friendly, without loss of light and view, but doesn’t transfer heat the way ordinary glass does. And without a coating – something that’s in the raw material of the glazing, not an after/added-on coating like low-E is now. Is it glass, or some nano-technology arrangement of glass’ molecular structure?
- BIM: The potential to revolutionize the industry. If you plug in a framing manufacturer’s system or parts to an architect’s BIM model, the parts can be exported directly from the BIM model to CNC machines in the shops. Material takeoffs by hand are outdated, and purchase orders are automatically generated. The paradigm of shop drawings and fabrication drawings may go away, or radically change. I hope I live long enough to see this one. Bits and pieces of this exist now, and BIM has given the industry the opportunity to tie this all together under its umbrella, or so I hope.
- Material finishing not called paint or anodizing, something inherent in the metal.
Wishful thinking? Who knows. Call me in 10 or 20 years. I’d like to know how this turns out, and what is new that I didn’t think of today. I should live so long…