The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) annual convention, the AIA Convention 2014, kicks off Thursday at a fitting setting—the home of the first skyscraper: Chicago.

More than 700 exhibitors will convene at the McCormick Place for a three-day event that, according to the convention’s official program, connects “the world’s brightest architects, designers, innovators, provocateurs and thought leaders.”

Simply put, it’s a big deal for the building sector—which has seemingly put a heavy emphasis on glass of late given glass’ many variables, increased versatility and role as a focal point in many modern designs.

The show gives architects and glaziers to, in many ways, get on the same page. It also gives the city a chance to show itself off to those whom have the upmost appreciation its architectural beauty.

“Chicago is a wonderful city and we’re looking forward to a strong turnout for this year’s show,” says Chris Dolan, Guardian’s director of marketing for North America Flat Glass. “We’re excited because Guardian has many new products and services and AIA provides a great opportunity for us to interact with the architectural community and get their feedback in the span of a couple of days.”

By our count, there are 83 exhibitors in the windows/skylights category of the event, per the program, and 72 in the glass products category—not to mention the plethora of exhibitors in the building products, coatings, doors, metals and solar categories, among others, that overlap with the glazing industry.

“The show’s attendance seems to continually grow, and many of the attendees are key decision-makers in the industry,” says Mary Olivier, director of marketing for Tubelite Inc. “We look forward to talking with architects as they seek dependable products to meet new code requirements, environmental needs, process improvements and aesthetic appeal.”

“With the economy on the way back to good health, the attendance is likely to be up and architects are more likely to have real projects to discuss as they walk the show floor,” says Dr. Helen Sanders, VP of technical business development at Sage Electrochromics.

She adds, “It will also be interesting to see how the booth traffic will benefit for the change in the schedule. This year the seminars and expo show hours no longer overlap.  This should be good for visitor volume on the show floor, but it’s certainly a long day for the architects, with the first seminars starting at 7 a.m. and the last finishing at 7 p.m.”

The convention plays host to more than 450 programs throughout the half-week. To adhere to the high volume of participants, AIA has put out a free, highly interactive mobile phone app that provides maps of the convention floor, lists of attendees and exhibitors with contact information, a live chat option and even a “locate me” GPS feature to help attendees see what they’re close to and find what they’re looking for.

With so much happening in one place, this year’s convention looks to be both extremely exciting and highly informational, and USGlass magazine/™ will be there every day, providing you with coverage both in print and on video. Be sure to visit USGlass magazine/ in Booth #4455.