News Analysis: Moveable Walls

Tracking Movement: Installation Considerations for Moveable Wall Systems

Moveable glass wall systems allow occupants to divide a space while maintaining transparency. A wide variety of interior moveable wall systems are available and each system type has specific considerations glaziers should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and functional installation.

Design Decisions

Decisions about what kind of system will be used for a project often occur early in the design phase. Architects will decide whether to use a top hung or bottom supported system, whether the system will be frameless or framed, how important acoustical performance is, and how the system should move and be seated within a space. If brought into the process early enough, glaziers can offer input based upon their past experiences and glaziers are often the ones responsible for ordering the systems.

System Support

Laura Aguiniga, supervisor of product group sales, entrance systems and interior partitions for C.R. Laurence of Los Angeles, says glaziers need to ensure the structural header can support the system’s load if a moveable glass system is top hung.

“Glaziers and installers will want to verify that the specified product is capable of meeting not only the opening requirements regarding width and height, but also the panel sizes. In some cases, what the architect specifies may not work for the application,” she says.

Matt Thomas, marketing manager for NanaWall of Corte Madera, Calif., says glaziers need to pay specific attention to the header design and how it fits and is mounted in the soffit.

Curtis Massey, product manager for dormakaba USA of Indianapolis, says that if the panels are going to be stacked into a closet they need to have adequate support especially if the system is top hung.

Aguiniga says glaziers might want to sit the system over finished flooring or install it before the floor is finished, then butt up the finished floor flush to the system’s sill. She explains that the head and sill need to be perfectly level and plumb, which could require shimming and other tricks of the trade.

For bottom supported systems, Massey says glaziers should ensure the floor is not supporting the weight and that there are no very high or low spots. The system’s track  will be attached to the ceiling and if there’s too much deviation, the glass panels could end up rubbing on the inside of the track.

Bifolding systems have their own considerations. “Whether the bifolding system is folding in or out of the desired room is something that needs to be considered,” says Aguiniga, adding that glaziers should ensure the panels are folding into the room and not out into the corridor in those applications. “When they fold into the room a glazier needs to make sure there’s enough space into which those panels can be stacked.

Thomas says glaziers can be creative with where the design is placed so that it moves around obstacles in retrofit situations. It’s also important to keep in mind where the panels are parked, whether they are stacked and parked open to the room or in a closet/behind a wall.

Trends

Increased transparency continues to be a major trend, says Aguiniga. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out creative solutions in terms of how to divide spaces using moveable glass systems.

Thomas says he’s seen increasing requests for separation within smaller spaces, and has noticed more warehouse environments being converted into offices or conference rooms using these systems. In addition, more projects include moveable systems that open to a balcony to provide fresh air.

Massey adds that thermally broken systems also are being used in interior applications in combination with laminated glass to provide improved sound attenuation.

Jordan Scott is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine. She can be reached at jscott@glass.com.

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