Communication Through Collaboration: Steps to Strengthen Relationships and Build Opportunities

By Stephanie Staub

Glass is being used in building enclosures throughout the world more widely and creatively than ever before. It’s not uncommon for projects with innovative systems and complicated designs to rely on a collaborative delivery method that starts during the early stages of design. With extensive experience and knowledge of production processes and installation methods, manufacturers and glazing contractors analyze the general concept, recognize potential problems and offer suggestions which aid the designer, facilitate production and result in a smoother project execution.

But what about the more typical designs? Does the design community truly understand the differences in glazing systems: performance characteristics, water management, and construction methodologies (or how those methods can be adapted based on the project)? Contractors deal with design inconsistencies and troublesome details daily. As technology evolves, so do industry best practices, as well as the ways we communicate and build relationships.

Cooperation is Key

The Architectural Glass Institute (AGI) provides a forum for sharing the collective expertise of glazing contractor members and their training partner, the Finishing Trades Institute. As an industry centric organization, AGI links glaziers to the design community, academia and even each other.

Like many others, the construction industry is relationship driven. While price matters, relationships play a large role in securing work. It’s natural for contractors to have relationships with their customers, general contractors and manufacturers but also with the design community. Leveraging those relationships happens daily. But doing so to create a dialog on certain issues isn’t always frequent. Identifying common issues, developing solutions, and sharing information benefits everyone.

Communication through a collaboration of glaziers and industry stakeholders strengthens relationships and creates opportunities for increased marketability. Working together as an industry enables glaziers to create resources that educate the design community on proper detailing of glazing systems and the newest innovations in the field.

Devil’s Details

Every project has its issues: inconsistencies in construction documents; transitions in the building envelope; adjacent material; tolerances; perimeter sealant continuity; and improperly prepared openings, among others. It usually boils down to the “devil in the details.” Glaziers deal with these challenges every day, and work through solutions to make the project successful.

Our organization uses its Devil’s Details educational series to engage and educate the design community. This resource illustrates and describes common glazing challenges as a means to communicate best practices for the design and construction industry, though it’s important to note this is not considered a sole source for design guidance. Each project has its own nuances, but the information is relatable to just about any project.

The industry is vast with systems and components. Critical focus of compatibility partnered with manufacturers’ input allows for a discussion of product properties and capabilities in a non-proprietary manner. This is important for glaziers because not only does it mean architects can better understand proper design applications, but it also provides exposure of new innovative systems and product advances.

Stephanie Staub is the director of marketing for the Architectural Glass Institute in Philadelphia. She can be reached at

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.