From the rooftop bars to the sidewalks below, you look up, down and all around in New York and you’ll see glass. Glass towers are on the rise, making the Big Apple the perfect spot for the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Conference on Architecture. The annual expo took place last week at the Javits Center—which itself is a great showcase for glass, thanks to its massive renovation just a few years back. I found a lot to see and talked to tons of people while walking the two-day show (Thursday and Friday). Here’s a quick recap of some of my show takeaways this year.

For The Birds

The Javits Center … made of LEGOs.

Before the Javits Center was renovated its dark glass made it a prime location for bird collisions and fatalities. It now features a silkscreened glass that was supplied by Viracon, making it a bird-friendly haven—literally—there were birds flying around the lobby areas. Exhibitors were also focusing on bird-friendly glass. Walker Glass promoted the product in its booth. In fact, the always dapper Danik Dancause showed his own “for the birds” support with his aviary-inspired tie.

Danik Dancause from Walker Glass sported his bird-themed tie to complement the company’s bird-friendly glass.

Guardian Glass is also getting involved with bird-friendly glass and previewed its soon-to-be released Bird1st UV coatings, which work with laminated glass to break up reflectivity allowing the glass to be more visible to birds, but still subtle to the human eye.

Education Takes the Stage

Kawneer focused on education, rather than products.

Kawneer, a company that typically hosts a large booth display, took a different approach to this year’s show—and didn’t bring any products at all. Instead, the company’s “booth” was a learning lounge, where it conducted educational presentations during the show each day. One of the challenges of the AIA conference has always been that the majority of the courses organized through the association take place during show hours, making it difficult to always keep a steady flow of traffic. Bringing the education to the show floor creates the best of both worlds: education for architects and show traffic for the exhibitors.

Decorative Displays

Decorative glass, from companies such as McGrory, remains a popular option.

Colors, textures, patterns … anything that makes glass pop … continues to draw oohs and ahhs from the architectural and design community. Companies such as GGI, Galaxy Glass & Stone, McGrory Glass and Gardner Glass all focused on decorative products, many of which can be used in exterior applications, as well as interior.

AGC Glass Co. was also focusing on decorative for indoor-outdoor applications with its Lacobel T/Matelac T products. Lacobel T is a float glass covered on one side with a high-quality, temperable back-paint, while Matelac T is temperable and back-painted on one side and acid-etched on the other side. Thanks to the tempering process, these products can be used in a range of applications, such as building facades and interior wall cladding, kitchen backsplashes, door panels and more.

Safe and Secure

Keeping children safe in schools remains an important focus for a number of companies. Several industry exhibitors featured products designed just for that. Assa Abloy showcased its new Attack Resistant Openings, developed in partnership with School Guard Glass. The complete door openings comply with the 5-aa10 test standards based on the FBI’s Active Shooter Report.

Safe Schools, Safe Kids, a new company based in Minneapolis, was a first time exhibitor. The company offers door and entrance products constructed with bullet-resistant   materials for entrances as well as interior spaces. The systems are designed to match the current décor and style of your school, while still providing enhanced security and protection.

Safe Schools, Safe Kids featured its bullet-resistant door and entrance products.

 Big Glass is Still Big

“How big can I get it?” is a common question from architects when it comes to glass. And companies are responding. Exhibitors continued to focus on the move toward increasingly larger and larger spans of glass. Viracon featured its largest size, measuring 130 inches by 236 inches, while both Guardian Glass and Vitro Glass are in the final stages of getting their jumbo coaters up and running.

Viva Las Vegas

Next year the AIA Conference on Architecture heads to Las Vegas, June 6-8.  What top trends are you betting on to steal the show in 2019? Comment below or email me at