Glass and glazing products had a big part to play in this year’s American Institute of Architects’ National Convention, which concluded this past Saturday in Philadelphia. And “big” was a major theme for many of these exhibitors. From size of glass to the quantity being used, industry companies agreed they’re seeing growing interest in their products.

For many exhibitors at this year’s AIA show, big glass was a big deal. Tecnoglass is one of several companies offering large-sized glass lites.
For many exhibitors at this year’s AIA show, big glass was a big deal. Tecnoglass is one of several companies offering large-sized glass lites.

“I think we’ll be seeing more and more glass used and we’re seeing it move beyond just a window and into [the entire] wall,” said John Buckley, Tremco’s director of marketing communications. “So, I do think we’ll be seeing more glass.”

Buckley added that his company has been focusing more of its efforts on glazing. He explained architects were asking about the company’s Proglaze ETA (engineered transition assembly) products. “That’s a hot topic because designs are getting more complex [as performance standards increase],” said Buckley. “We are having lots of conversations around glazing and around the transitions of a window.”

Big changes were also happening in fire-rated glazing. Vetrotech Saint-Gobain, for instance, focused on its Keralite Select. Lindsay Hampton, south central regional sales manager, said the company recently launched the largest tested sizes on the market, as its Keralite Standard, Keralite Select and Keralite Privacy fire-rated glass sheets now are available up to 47 1/4 by 95 9/16 inches.

“Having bigger sizes increases the number of applications in which the glass can be used,” she said. “This provides versatility for taller projects.” She added that increasing the size was a huge challenge.

“Having to modify everything took time and investment,” she said, adding that while architects are interested in features such as clarity, what they really like is the size. “Size is what it’s all about,” she said.

Aside from dimensions, glazing can also be used for increasingly large spans, resulting in more overall transparency. Safti First had a fire-rated product that could help with that. The company introduced its SuperLite II-XLM fire-resistive multilaminate, which is available in butt-glazed assemblies with a transparent joint for unobstructed, clear views. Tim Nass, vice president of national sales, explained that this new glass provides the option for architects to use narrow profiles.

“Architects love clear views and as few frames as possible. This allows for that,” said Nass.

Dynamic glass is also getting bigger—and so is the amount of attention it’s receiving from architects. For instance, Helen Sanders, vice president of technical business development with SageGlass, said her company has been seeing a lot of traction with architects when it comes to LEED buildings.

“It can be difficult to get the daylighting credit because they also have to meet a glare target,” she said. “It can be hard to have the right amount of glass to be daylight sufficient without having too much glare. Electrochromic glass is good to help with that. Also, zoning [the tint] in electrochromic glass helps you balance the glare control with light.”

And responding to the overall glass trend for larger and larger sizes, Sanders said the dimensions for their products are growing as well. “Nothing is stopping the size of the glass, except the [size of the] coater.”

A number of other fabricators that offer super-size glass products were also exhibiting. These included the Chinese company Northglass, which is growing its presence in North America; Colombia-based Tecnoglass, which is also doing more and more business here; as well as Owatonna, Minn.-based Viracon, which will soon be rolling out sizes as large as 130 by 236 inches.

“The question everyone asks, ‘are you making it in an IG?’ and yes, absolutely,” said Annette Panning, director of marketing and product management. “We have a lot of customers excited to get big glass.”

If you missed this year’s AIA National Convention, mark your calendars for next April 27-29 when the event will take place in Orlando, Fla.