glassblog

Monday, August 25, 2014

The casino/hotel that is housed in one of the more fascinating glass and glazing projects in recent times is closing down. And among the excuses out there is the actual design of the building. The Revel Casino in Atlantic City closes its doors September 1st, and while the building envelope looks spectacular, the layout and flow on the inside allegedly caused major issues. There’s been some interesting discussion online regarding what went wrong with this property. While I think that the overall gambling downturn in AC is a bigger reason (among many others) than the building design, I was amazed that people did jump on the layout issue. Building layout is a major factor in the success and failure of businesses every day. Yet so many times it does not get the focus it deserves.  And further more, the desire for a great exterior aesthetic has taken more priority than the interior look and functionality. I have never seen this property in person and am depending on the stories and views I see online. Any of you who have been there and seen it, feel free to e-mail me your thoughts. Do you think the layout was the biggest factor in this property's demise?

Elsewhere…

  • Speaking of design, does the open office layout cause more theft and confusion?  Here's a good story. Personally, while I like an open floor plan, the lack of continuity mentioned in this story (i.e. you don’t have your own desk) would make me crazy.
  • The Farmers Almanac is out and the prediction for this winter is for cold and misery, yet again. The Almanac is working with an 80 percent success rate, so I tend to believe what it says when the predictions call for similar in 2015 as we saw in 2014.
  • I usually am one to complain when gas prices go up, so I should note that gas prices right now where I live are shockingly low. This week, $3.36. Now hopefully that continues, but with the holiday coming I am sure it will spike. For the life of me, I have no idea how this all works and it's pretty comical that I am happy with a $3.36 pricetag, but its sure better than the $5 I thought we’d see!
  • Props and thanks to a couple of great regional trade organizations. The Colorado Glazing Contractors Association and Washington Glass Association are class acts and both worked this summer to help promote GlassBuild America to their members. A major thank you to Rebecca Graves (CGCA) and Maryanne Howell (WGA) and their members for the support. Those who know me know how I feel about industry support for major events, and these groups certainly did their part in jumping in the way they did.
  • I shouldn’t have to remind you about GlassBuild America coming in a few weeks, but may as well. Still time to get flights and get there. I for one am pumped when I see new exhibitors still signing up daily including a game changer for interior switchable glass that will garner a ton of interest. You will not want to miss this event!
  • Last this week, college football kicks off this week. Crazy prediction: if Wisconsin beats LSU this Saturday, they will win the National Championship. (That sound you hear is all my friends in SEC country moaning that I am nuts…and I am.) I do love college football and can’t wait for it to get going!


Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The ASHRAE proposal to reduce the window-to-wall ratio was dropped at the start of the year, but as a recent Urban Green Council report reminds us, the battle over glass performance is far from over. As part of the council’s efforts to establish better building envelope standards, the report calls into question the long-term benefits of expansive glass structures. Referred to as “high cholesterol buildings,” it explains how such buildings are on the fad diet of today, but have the potential to cause environmental problems in the future:

“We watch what we eat, exercise regularly, keep an eye on cholesterol, and make other common-sense lifestyle decisions now for better health in the future. But sometimes we take shortcuts, like fad diets that shed pounds in the short term while spiking our cholesterol and damaging our health in the long run. Buildings are no different…we seek shortcuts: ‘fad diets’ that make it seem at first glance that we’re building green, when in fact we are setting ourselves up to pollute more in the future.”

According to the report, one glaring, short-sighted fad diet in the building industry is using glass for the majority of the building envelope: “More glass translates into higher revenue today, but that same glass saddles buildings with poorer envelopes tomorrow.”

Undeniably, some glass still has a ways to go when it comes to energy efficiency. But, it also provides occupants with views to the outside world and access to sunlight. Since both are critical to occupant comfort and wellbeing, it is doubtful expansive glass building envelopes will be a passing fad.

Nicholas Holt, an architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, and an Urban Green board member, agrees. “Glass is not going anywhere,” says Holt in a Wall Street Journal article covering the Urban Green Council’s report. He adds that glass buildings will likely remain predominant for years because of the positive impact views and light have on human health and enjoyment.

As such, it is imperative the glass industry continues asking the right questions to ensure glass provides long-terms solutions that benefit both human health and the environment. How can glass become a better insulator, acoustic barrier or dynamic building element? What can we do to ensure framing materials improve thermal performance? What can we learn by partnering with architects to evaluate building envelope performance post-construction?

As the Urban Green Council report aptly points out, glass walls can last 50 years, and in some instances many more. By comparison, HVAC systems and other building equipment are typically upgraded and replaced every 10 to 20 years. This should underscore for all of us the importance of ensuring high-performance glazing contributes to energy-savings and promotes occupant comfort over a building envelope’s tenure.

The good news is there are many solutions we can pursue now. And, as the Urban Green Council sums up, “…with better glass, designed views, improved construction training, and greener codes, we can have buildings that are as healthy as they are beautiful.” Let’s do our part to make sure that glazing is part of the solution, and that future improvements are as healthy for building occupants as they are for the environment.

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and (past) chairs the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). Contact him at 800/426-0279.

Monday, August 18, 2014

3D printing has changed architecture and design, allowing designers to visualize in true 3D how buildings or building components will appear. It is beginning to change construction, with 3D printers in the works that are large enough to print on the jobsite. And it has changed the way many in the glass industry work with glazing and project design.

“We can go from napkin sketch to full-scale 3D at light speed, a capability that is greatly appreciated by our clients,” says Mic Patterson, director of strategic development for Enclos Corp. (View a video of Patterson discussing how Enclos has incorporated 3D printing at its Advanced Technology Studio in Los Angeles.)

Now, a new technology could even replace the napkin sketch—a 3D pen that enables doodling in three dimensions, without paper or other supports.

Perhaps future design team meetings will include 3D sketches from everyone at the table.

Katy Devlin, Editor, Glass Magazine
 
The opinions expressed here and in reader comments are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Does being very busy almost everywhere mean the industry is back and healthy? Was the industry ever really that healthy to begin with? Regardless of how you may feel about the second question, it’s the first question that needs to be examined. While many people report to me that their sales levels and backlogs are excellent, and the booming registration of GlassBuild America lead me to the conclusion that people are busier/happier than in the past, there’s still a nagging fear. That worry is couched in two areas: cash flow and the overall international economic conditions. Cash flow, as I have written here a few times, is still a challenge for many. There does not seem to be an easy fix, given that banks are still not providing that safety net that many companies were used to.

The overall economy still has issues and holes that are worrisome. This recent run is not built on a very solid foundation, and world (and in some cases domestic) volatility makes one very skittish. Regardless, this is the time to make it go. But keep an eye on all that is going on, so if the foundation cracks open, the fall may not hurt as much.

Elsewhere…

  • Some great reading in the most recent Glass Magazine. First off, major kudos to the three great industry pros in the G3 section who answered this month's question about expectations for GlassBuild. All three folks, Mike Wallace of Quality Metalcrafts, Lloyd Talbert of C.R. Laurence, and Alysa Hoffmeister of Dip-Tech gave thoughtful answers to the question and they all made a point to note that this show--the biggest and most important in our industry in North America--is a must to support. Companies like these and the hundreds others displaying in the show really GET IT.
  • Also my monthly award for best ad of the month was a tough one. Some excellent and creative work in the issue, but we can have only one winner and that goes to Kawneer for their smart “hole in the wall” piece. Very eye catching and well done! Love the picture and idea.
  • This very interesting and disturbing story on why some states are keeping the spread of solar panels down. This is surely not the direction our country needs to head!
  • An architectural message board I monitor had a wild thread this week. Actually, the thread started in 2009 and somehow was resurrected. The discussion was on annealed vs. tempered glass and the differences. Something we take for granted as a no brainer in our industry did garner some dialogue on this site. Even the great Bill Coady of Guardian jumped in and tried to educate, but discussion continued. In any case, the point here is what we take as simple may not be as such in other areas of the building product universe.
  • The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been one of the most amazing grassroots charitable efforts I have ever seen. Basically people of all walks of life are challenged to donate or dump buckets of ice water over their heads. Most now are doing both to spread the word. To date, reportedly more than 15 million people have taken part. It is everywhere. The Atlantic wrote about why this process just exploded and provided more background if you are interested. This is a charity close to my family’s heart since our dad passed from this disease in 2001. My brother did the challenge (figures the smarter, more successful one of us led the way) and passed it on to my kids and me. We did it. And man it was cold. The evidence is my video of the week; please feel free to check it out. Also a thank you to the always-classy Mike Cully of United Plate Glass who did the challenge in honor of our dad.
  • Please, in the end, whether you donate to ALS or you have another charity or charities that you support, continue to do so. It is ALWAYS appreciated!

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It was June 2008. Times were good. Sales and profits were up. Everybody was making money “while they slept." I attended my 1st meeting as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Glass Association. Rod Van Buskirk was the Chairman of the Board. Steve Mort was Chairman-Elect and Kevin McMahon was Treasure of the Board.

The Mortgage Crisis occurs in August 2008. Steve Mort becomes Chairman at GlassBuild America in September 2008. The NYSE plummets 778 points in October 2008. Mort challenges the NGA to make some tough cuts to survive the current economic downturn. All of the Board members begin paying their own travel expenses to the meetings. The January Board meeting is moved from a warm climate to Washington DC to save money. The Dow reaches its low of 6443 in March 2009. By August 2009 the economy is fully felt throughout the glass industry.

Kevin McMahon becomes Chairman at GlassBuild America in September 2009. Kevin had to deal with the tight economy as President of his own company and as Chairman of NGA. Furthermore, there was growing unrest among the Auto Glass Board members about other issues. Kevin had to manage those feelings and opinions. Eventually, all of the Auto Glass Directors served their term or resigned from the Board. It was a very tough year for Kevin. He is the greatest Chairman I served under.

Steve Burnett becomes Chairman at GlassBuild America in September 2010. Times are stabilizing and improving ever so slightly within the economy. The NGA is lean and efficient thanks to Steve Mort and Kevin McMahon. The NGA started the Window and Door Dealers Association (WDDA) and admitted its 1st representative, David Steele, to the Board. Steve Burnett keeps the Association rolling along on its path through the tough economy. Steve is blessed with a relatively calm year. The Board finally gets to have its winter meeting away from Washington DC. We go to San Diego and enjoy the “winter weather” there.

Chris Mammen becomes Chairman at GlassBuild America in September 2011. Times are continuing to improve. Four Board members, led by Chairman Mammen, make a surprise visit to NGA headquarters. The purpose is to see how the Association functions on a typical work day. The Staff is frightened by the visit. Eventually, most calm and accept the visit as a fact-finding trip. It’s another uneventful year for the Board. We go to Orlando for our winter meeting.

Bill Evans becomes Chairman at GlassBuild America in September 2012. Thankfully, for the industry, it was another calm year. GlassBuild is growing with more vendors/displayers. Attendance is improving as optimism about the economy grows. Jana Goodrich, the 1st female Board member in 20 years, joined the Board. I just kept the “ship sailing” while waiting for my successor to take the Chairman’s seat. 

Thankfully, Bob Brown assumes the Chairman’s role at GBA 2013.  Phil James, the President of the NGA for three decades, takes early retirement and Nicole Harris succeeds him as President. Phil did an excellent job of guiding, and building, the NGA throughout his tenure as President. Bob Brown orchestrates the transition. GlassBuild America 2014 is going to have more displayers and more attendees than any other GlassBuild during my term on the Board of Directors.

I have served under and with some great leaders while on the Board. They are all great. They made tough decisions, managed through crises, kept the faith, developed a new vision of the future, and continued the legacy. But the strongest ones have been Steve Mort, Kevin McMahon, and Bob Brown. They all encountered unexpected situations and handled each magnificently.

Bryan Bush will become Chairman at GBA 2014. He will lead the Board with a new President. He will be a great leader, and the NGA will flourish under his and Nicole’s leadership. Our industry is in very good hands. I will observe this from outside the Board as my term comes to a close.

Bill Evans is president, Evans Glass Co., Nashville, Tenn.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Recently the ranking of the top revenue producing architectural firms was released. The good news is that in 2013, total revenue grew at these firms from $10 billion to $11 billion. Obviously the uptick that our industry is seeing right now started on the boards of these groups last year. The #1 firm in the country, by revenue, in 2013 was not even close to the #2 firm. Bringing in more than $800 million in sales last year was Gensler. They doubled 2nd place CH2M Hill and 3rd place AECOM. Well-known names like HOK (8th) and Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (9th) also showed well. Nine of the top 10 were the same in 2013 as they were in 2012, which shows that those big players do have their ways of getting the work and holding their spots. Overall the growth is the best news of this story for sure.

Elsewhere…

  • Last week’s bird glass story surely hit home for many. I received some incredible and helpful feedback from great minds like Kerry Haglund and Frank D’Aprile among others. One of Kerry’s points was about the new law in place in Minnesota is that the stadium is basically skirting due to the time it was designed. (Also as Kerry pointed out, it was noted in Katy Devlin’s piece). Meanwhile Frank provided some excellent insight on the codes in various cities and things that we are all not paying attention to in this process.  Plus he left me with this excellent quote:

    “City folk love to encourage Mother Nature and her kin to visit their urban neighborhoods, while the very buildings in which they live may harm her."

    And while my issue was with the press aspect of the story, there’s no question we’re only touching the surface here. And with great minds out there on the case, this will be a problem that will be addressed well and hopefully solved in the long run.
  • Have to give props to Kevin Roth, Arbel Martin and the team from Vistamatic on their excellent new website. Believe me building or refreshing a website is not easy and these guys did a tremendous job with their new approach. Congrats!
  • Speaking of new sites, PPG also did an upgrade of their GlassNET site that was very strong and well done. It incorporates positive changes, including the fact that there’s more information, and it’s simpler to use than before, making this upgrade a winner. 
  • My weekly GlassBuild note… Have you registered yet? Made those plane reservations? Hotel? You are a month away. And a reminder, I will be on the floor in my bright yellow media vest (or looking like an airport worker as my brother Steve pegged it last year), so please stop me and say hi.
  • Last this week… if you have not seen Guardians of the Galaxy- give it a shot. I saw it and loved it. Funny, different and creative. Really worth the movie ticket that is for sure.

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A pretty significant story hit last week but  seemingly did not get much traction outside of its home market. A bankrupt solar manufacturer based in Pennsylvania won a $27 million judgment against a Chinese company that reneged on a pretty crucial deal. The story is pretty fascinating in that the bankrupt company had a chance to properly reorganize if the Chinese company did not run from their deal. Read the story here. The insight from this is being careful with who you are dealing with, especially when there’s so much at stake. And because of the foreign entities in this deal, who knows if the judgment will ever be paid. In the end, the bad thing is the solar manufacturer was actually being extremely responsible and trying to do the right thing, only to be thwarted by a company who, according to the court of law, did not come through on its commitment.

Elsewhere…

  • Can you believe it's August? My goodness this year is just flying by. Wow.
  • I was alerted to an article via the excellent Twitter feed of Conners Sales Group (@ConnersSales) that the Pittsburgh Convention Center has been upgraded from a Gold LEED Building to a Platinum LEED Building. The structure was certified Gold in 2003, and the story did not explain how or why this structure made the jump. For me that’s a new one. And I’d love to see how some of these buildings that were certified Gold and Platinum years ago look now with true energy targets—vs. results—to see if they really are that great. I guess anyone who reads this knows I am not a fan of LEED, and it's things like this that continue to make me question the way they do things. If someone has the insight on why and how this happens, and why it’s not a mainstream thing, please e mail me. I’d love to know and share.
  • The “Bird Glass” issue at the new Viking Stadium has gotten pretty newsworthy. When you have heavy hitters like the New York Times and Katy Devlin both weighing in on it, you know it’s big. My thoughts? It’s a PR job by the Audubon group to get their name in the paper and get more donations/support. Why else go public? The stadium is still a while away from being built, and I am sure with more discussion and dialogue a compromise could be worked out. But by coming out the way it did, it smacked of a powerplay to try and get the public to shame the builder into it. If this was closer to “go” time, I could see it, but it’s my guess that discussions were probably not that far along and this was used as a chance to hit the news. Maybe I’m wrong, but just a feeling. Oh, and in the end, I do believe that a compromise will happen. (And note, I do know we have great bird glass technology in this industry and want to see it used, just not thrilled with the way this one came down.)
  • So last this week, more GlassBuild America talk. I have to admit, being associated with the show gives me a unique perspective on it and also makes me biased. But I am what I am, so here goes. Right now, I am as excited as I have ever been about the event. I am hearing that pre-registration numbers are awesome and I know from talking to various folks around the industry that more are attending than have in the past. And people are coming with significant plans, either to find products, services, people or information that will help them in what is now becoming a healthy market. At the end of the day this show is OUR show. It’s an event that is a difference maker when it comes to your business and your career (it’s how most reps find new lines as an example). It’s the biggest and most impressive show you can attend in North America and it’s the one event where you can network, learn, find new products and services and do business at all levels all in one place. I think if you are not going this year you will not only be missing something epic, you will be in the minority for sure. 

Read on for links and video of the week...

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.