Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, one of the primary focuses in the fire-rated glazing industry was developing products with greater design flexibility. Architects were no longer satisfied simply using wired fire-rated glass in individual windows, borrowed lites and small view panes in doors. They wanted large, visually compatible glazed areas that could extend from floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, and across multiple stories.

Over the last two decades, the push towards clearer fire-rated glass and sleek, fire-rated frames ultimately led to one of our industry’s greatest breakthroughs – fire-rated glazing systems. Designed and tested to work together as a cohesive unit, integrated fire-rated glass and frames made it possible for building teams to use fire-rated glass floors, roofs, and curtain walls to meet stringent fire and life safety codes.

Despite these advances, some building teams still question whether they can meet their design goals with fire-rated glazing. As is true in every industry, some manufacturing processes yield better results than others. But, the bottom line is there is no reason fire-rated glazing should force a major compromise on design goals. Here are several practical ways glass industry professionals can demonstrate how fire-rated glazing systems can advance building design.

Show how fire-rated glazing systems can do more with less - During informational sessions with design professionals, be sure to highlight fire-rated glazing systems with dual or triple functionality. Products that make it possible to accomplish more with less – like fire-rated glass floor systems and curtain walls – can help customers maintain their design intent and satisfy various project performance requirements.

Promote visual consistency with other building elements - Fire-rated glazing previously tended to have much thicker frames and glass to provide the necessary fire protection. This often created aesthetic discrepancies with nearby curtain walls, windows, and doors. Since many of today’s fire-rated glazing systems have crisp frame edges and clear fire-rated glazing, it’s important to show building teams that smooth integration with surrounding applications is possible. New options like silicone-glazed (SG) fire-rated curtain walls can even match the smooth, frame-free exterior surface of structural silicone glazed curtain wall systems.

Demonstrate design flexibility - For many architects, potential trade-offs between fire and life safety requirements and appearance are hard to swallow. If you are involved with the customer early on in the design process, the good news is in many instances there are readily available system solutions. One example is using fire protective materials with sprinkler systems. Approved systems like FireLite Plus WS in combination with TYCO Model WS Window Sprinklers can serve as an alternative to fire-rated assemblies requiring a 2-hour rating, when acceptable to the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Because the glass in the system provides fire- and impact-safety, achieves up to a 120 minute fire rating and can withstand thermal shock, building teams have greater design freedom than was possible with tempered glass alternatives. For example, the assembly eliminates the need for a 36 inch ponywall often previously used with the TYCO WS system, and allows the fire-rated glazing to be butt glazed for a seamless aesthetic.

Keep looking forward -Twenty-five years ago it was hard to see past the limitations of wired fire-rated glass. Now the industry is producing advanced systems like fire-rated glass floors and fire-rated curtain walls with the appearance of structural silicone glazing. Imagine where the glazing industry could be in another twenty-five years if we keep working to resolve fire-rated glazing design challenges. How are you working to change fire-rated glazing design perspectives in our industry?

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 is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC)., 800/426-0279.

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, July 7, 2014

Before I get to the AIA review, I have to lead off with the gigantic story that broke late Thursday and was posted first on Cardinal Glass Industries is buying Catalina Tempering Inc. From a commercial side this is not big news. From the residential side this is earth shaking. Just a huge acquisition for Cardinal and now the second one in the last few months that has really made waves (first being the acquisition of Northeast Laminated in late April). Cardinal now has jumped in with two sharp, strategic moves and is signaling their intention to continue to be a force especially on the residential glass world. Catalina was a homegrown company that saw major success built by strategically placing plants near window manufacturers to supply them custom tempered. I don’t believe many people could have seen this sale coming; surely there were no major indications of such. The bottom line here is that Cardinal is making moves, and companies once thought to be “off the market” may actually not be…


Because of the size of the AIA recap, I am pushing Round 3 of the World Cup of Glass back a week…

  • AIA was a mixed bag. It is always great to see people and learn new things about the industry, products, and services. However the show itself was just not that good. Traffic was inconsistent and very light in some areas of the floor, and it’s apparent that the architects that were there have too many things to see and do during this show. I know some companies were pleased and others not so much. And no matter, it does not dampen my enthusiasm for the next big event in our world: GlassBuild America. That show is coming along nicely with huge new exhibitors, innovation, and probably the coolest education set up you can imagine.
  • As for the seen and visited part of the show… here goes:

It was good to visit Joe Erb while walking the floor; he’s always got a great insight or 100.

Walker Textures is really an impressive company. I know I always comment on their sartorial splendidness (Danik in a bow tie at this show—wow), but the fact of the matter is that this operation should be used as a case study for a group that really “gets it.” They are always evolving and innovating. Plus, it was super to get to chat with Ross Christie of Walker.

Speaking of innovation, I was very impressed with the Viracon App. It is a really a strong tool and will be used in the way that medium was designed.

It was a pleasure to run into Jerry Schwabauer of Azon—I had not seen him a while.

A cool product that was not really in our industry was the home elevators from Savaria. They do feature beautiful glass doors, though. Now I don’t think I’ll ever need or have a home elevator, but if I get one, this is what I’ll buy!

Guardian was at AIA in force, and as always, so hospitable to me. Amy Hennes is a class act, and getting to see the legend Brian Craft is always a pleasure. Brian’s healthy and looking great, and led a sold out seminar during the show.

I knew very little about Vetrotech Saint Gobain, but came away from their booth impressed. Getting hurricane-resistant approvals is no easy task, and they did it with their product.

Also impressive is the new unit glaze system from CRL/US Aluminum. I really appreciate Paul Daniels giving me a quick demo.

And I made a quick visit to see Sage. I was impressed by their new booth showing shapes, sizes, and new product advancements.

PPG was there as always. I got to chat with my favorite Jan Rogan, and visited with Glenn Miner as always. Rob Struble happened to be there, but I never got to talk with him as he was engaged with someone every single time I swung by. That to me may be my biggest regret of the show!

You can always count on YKK to have a buzz around their booth, and this year was no different.

I was also very very impressed with the team from tesa tape. They will be showing at GlassBuild for the first time this fall, and I think they will be a very popular destination for attendees to visit.

A lot of foreign companies were on the floor trying to get a foot in the market. Hopefully they realize that doing AIA is only one part of the mission to reach North America’s buyers.

  • Random other thoughts…

I blew it by not bringing my running gear. The temps were perfect and there were so many places to run. I downloaded the app and took “Uber” everywhere. The semi controversial car sharing service was a godsend for me. I know that those in the cab and transport industry hate them, but as a pure consumer, in an event like this where getting around is such a pain, it was the MVP of my time there.

  • Last this week, the World Cup of Soccer surely had our country enthused. I am wondering what happens in four years when the games are in Russia and the times of games aren’t as convenient to watch live. Still it’s been a fun tourney with still some great games to go.

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

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, June 23, 2014

This past week our industry got news that I would say is “insanely great.” That term, usually associated with the greatness of Steve Jobs and his Apple products, can now apply to our world after Nicole Harris was named as the new president and CEO of the National Glass Association. This news should give everyone who cares about the current and future of our industry an extra pep in their step because there’s simply no one more qualified or ready to take the NGA and our glass world to new levels.

I have known Nicole for many years, and hold her in the highest regard. She is an absolute class act. I will never forget years and years ago my brother and I had dinner with Nicole and we were talking advertising ideas. Despite the fact we weren’t placing ads with her magazine at the time, she was still there brainstorming with us and actually helped us develop an amazingly memorable campaign. She surely did not have to, but did what was right. And I know going forward she will do what’s right for this industry. This is tremendous news, folks, plain and simple.

In a future blog, I will have some comments on outgoing NGA CEO Phil James and his legacy. His place in industry history is surely one to greatly respect.


  • This week is AIA in Chicago. Maybe I can get a picture or video of someone from our industry pleading for love from an architect. Seriously though, I am very interested to see how the show goes and the vibe. I plan to report on all of this in my next blog, which won’t run until after the July 4th holiday.
  • World Cup of Glass, week 2. I was alerted to a huge snub; France is not in my tournament. So while that country does boast a major player in the glass world, for this exercise, they’ll have to wait until I do the next edition of the World Cup of Glass. Also, the feedback I got regarding this was some of the best I have ever had. Thank you. OK, our next round is China, Italy, South Korea and Mexico. The result of this one was a shocker to me. I fully expected China to prevail, but alas they fell to the Italians in the end. Italy won the quality segment, finished 2nd in products and 2nd in industry support to take the day. While China does have products, their quality continues to be hampered by some bad actors, and innovation, at least originating, is not a strong suit, in my opinion. South Korea hung in there for being the home of some major interior switchable glass players; and Mexico has great supporters of this industry and quality on par with the best. The final breakdown was:

Italy 13

China 11

Korea 9

Mexico 7

So Italy joins Germany in the finals. In my next blog, we’ll have the match up of the United States, Russia, Spain and Japan.

  • Good news also this week on Thom Zaremba being appointed to the Canadian General Standards Board’s Glass Committee to help update the architectural glass standards there. Thom joins a strong group that will make sure the right glazing products are used in the right applications. No question adding someone of his experience and pedigree will be great for the effort!
  • I just heard about the retirement of one of our industry's most enjoyable people. Jim Stewart of Tremco hung 'em up recently. Jim is a great man and I will miss seeing him at industry events because he was always the one guy I could count on to greet me with a smile and hearty handshake. Enjoy the next phase of your life, my friend!
  • I watched the movie “Non Stop” on a flight this week and all I can say is…wow. Solid plot and creative writing. Good action movie. Liam Neeson playing that hero role works.
  • Just in time for the summer travel season, gas is rising, but so are airline prices. May had the largest one-month increase in 15 years! I noticed it as some routes I normally take I could not find a reasonable flight price at all. Very depressing, to say the least. And this trend looks to continue; the airlines expect flights to still be full, so I don’t see pricing going down or even staying flat for the time being.
  • As mentioned above, no blog from me again until after the 4th of July holiday. Hope everyone has a great and safe Independence Day!

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

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, June 23, 2014

Most manufacturers are familiar with or are using lean principles to streamline manufacturing and related processes. While this effort pays dividends reducing direct manufacturing costs, look upstream. Often the new product concept and design processes are not in the lean-loop and by then it is too late to be truly lean. Most new products initially go through a design, prototype, refine, release cycle. Guess what? Most people involved with those new product launch processes are not practicing lean. It is not in their nature to think lean design and attack where there is most to be gained, which is product simplification.

Any component that can be designed out of a product is the ultimate in lean, since that part does not even exist to quantify waste, including supply chain logistics, inventory costs, etc. Believe me, as an engineer I find it easy to fall into this trap. We look at the functional requirement and build up the product around that requirement, not giving much (or at least enough) thought to simplicity. We draw on our past experiences to produce a functional and acceptable product. While that works, we’re not thinking lean.

Today’s technologies offer so much opportunity for part count reduction. The automotive and mobile phone industries demonstrate countless examples of lean product simplification. Fasteners are being replaced by adhesives and integrated snaps. Robotics take the place of clipity-clop mechanical contraptions. Ethernet and fiber-optic networking has reduced giant bundles of cable into a single wire. Have you checked the price of some of these so called high-tech products lately? You might be surprised to find that simple (i.e. lean) has become cost-effective. Is your first thought when looking at a machine “Wow. That looks complicated.”? If something looks complicated, it likely is.

We start thinking about lean principles when the new product hits the manufacturing floor. But every product you make can be designed leaner and simplified. And it’s time for you to simplify it. Then when you’re done simplifying it, repeat the cycle. Master this process and you win.

The author is R&D / Engineering Manager at GED Integrated Solutions.

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, June 16, 2014

Did you know that glass is the only recyclable material that can be infinitely recycled to make new glass products?

I am asking for suggestions from all of you, and this blog is a request for help. I was contacted by a past customer and current volunteer for a local non-profit asking for suggestions. I’m now asking you, the reader, for help in answering her question.

Nashville, Tenn., has curbside recycling for almost anything except glass. Individuals must take their glass recyclables to a public recycling center. A local non-profit, Justice Industries will come to your home and get the glass recyclables twice a month for an annual fee of $121. Justice’s glass recycling business is called Just.Glass. Most of the glass is beer, wine, liquor and condiment/sauce bottle and/or jars. Just.Glass takes the glass to the public recycling centers.

Now the plea for suggestions: What can Just.Glass do with the glass other than take it to the public recycling center?

Justice Industries wants the suggestions to be sound business suggestions. Justice Industries is focused on creating businesses “that provide jobs opportunity, training and support for those caught in the trap of generational poverty or chronic under-employment.”

Some previous suggestions have centered on craft uses for the bottles such as making them into lamps. This is too labor intensive and, as we glass people know, the percentage of success in drilling bottles is low.

Another suggestion has been to establish a small bottling plant that could sterilize the bottles and redistribute them to craft or home brewers. The jars could also be sterilized and redistributed to home canners/bottlers. Is this practical or even affordable?

Glass is used in road pavement. How can these recyclables be sold to those pavers or asphalt plants? Are they interested in, as compared to large public glass recyclers, the small quantities Just.Glass will provide?

Phillip DeFranco said, “A good man fights for himself and his; A great man fights for everyone else.”

Think creatively. What are your suggestions? Your ideas are needed. Thanks for your help.

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, June 16, 2014

Week one of the World Cup of Glass is now underway. Here’s the set up: I selected 12 countries and broke them into three groups. Each week I’ll look at the four countries in that division and then decide on a winner. Then four weeks from now we’ll break down the final three. So, to kick it off, this week’s group is Germany, Finland, Canada, and Israel. (And if you are keeping score at home, as I know all of you are, the other two groups are USA, Russia, Spain and Japan; and China, Italy, Korea and Mexico).

The first group really has some serious players. Germany brings in the precision equipment that comes with so much respect, but how much have they done with regards to glass products and efficiency? Germany is also tremendous code wise (and I wish the United States would follow), as well as the host of the big glasstec show every other year. Finland is another machinery star. So many of us in this industry grew up on tempering ovens made there, plus Finland has the education side with Glass Processing Days (now Glass Performance Days). Canada is a favorite of mine because I love the people there; 99 percent of them are as classy and cool as they come, and there’s been some solid technology coming from the North. But really the strength there is being able to implement great stuff, not develop it. And Israel: a tiny country doing amazing things. Its flagships of solar and digital printing are really making serious waves. For the size of the country, I’d wager that no area does more with less.

Picking a winner from this group was brutal. What I did was award points (from 4 to 1) in each category, and the country with the most points won. The categories are:

  • Innovation: What have they developed and brought to the markets? Did they make a difference?
  • Quality: What do they produce or install? Is it top notch?
  • Products: Are the products mainstream? Something that now is a must have?
  • Industry support: Do they have the support of trade shows like GlassBuild and industry trades.  

And the final breakdown for this group was:

  1. Germany: 14
  2. Israel: 11
  3. Canada: 9
  4. Finland: 6

So Germany moves on. Its strength in innovation and quality was too much for the rest of the group to overcome. And this little project/series of mine was much more challenging than I thought! Fun, but really tougher than expected. If you have insights or opinions, feel free to share them. Next week, we do it again with group 2.


  • You all know I am not a big fan of Google, but this past week I had a video conference call using a Google+ hangout instead of Skype or GotoMeeting, and it was super. Great quality and sound. So there’s the first redeeming quality of the Google+ platform for you.
  • Did you know that this year is the 20th anniversary of the middle movie of the Mighty Ducks trilogy? Why is this relevant to our industry? Well a very well done oral history was published on it. As I am reading it, I learn one of the main characters in this story was Garrette Henson. Now my mind started to race. Could it be the same guy who’s the force behind Viracon’s sales success? I know he spells his name differently, but maybe he tweaked it for Hollywood. Plus the time frame makes sense and the shooting location of Minnesota makes me think we may have a Hollywood actor in our midst... Oh, and if you like oral histories, this is a good one.
  • Katy Devlin’s heads up on the lead paint rule for commercial needs to be taken very seriously. Believe me, I was there on the residential side when it launched, and it was an absolute boondoggle. 
  • Last this week, the Prada storefront “Great Glazing” that Glass Magazine profiled really looks amazing. That is one job I’d like to see in person because the pictures blow me away. I could only imagine how great it must look in real life. Congrats to all involved there.

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

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, June 9, 2014

Are you familiar with the EPA’s lead paint rules? If not, it’s probably time to get up-to-date, as the lead paint rules that have been in effect for residential renovation projects for several years could be coming to the commercial segment.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule was issued in 2008 and went into effect in 2010. The rules require that any firm performing renovation, repair or paint work on homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 must be EPA certified, use certified renovators and installers, and follow lead-safe work practices. Now the EPA is investigating plans to extend the lead paint rules to commercial buildings.

Since its launch, the LRRP has been under scrutiny from the building industry, as contractors working in the residential and school renovation segments grappled with the requirements of the rules, the steep fines for noncompliance, and the costs for certification. The cost, in particular, has been a matter of concern. The EPA estimates that more than $10.3 billion will be spent on the residential LRRP by December 2016, and many in the construction industry forecast costs will exceed those estimates.

The LRRP was a focus of the Regulatory Affairs Committee meeting during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association Summer Conference last week in Indianapolis. “The EPA has agreed to either sign a proposed rule covering RRP activities of public and commercial buildings, or determine that these activities do not create lead-based paint hazards by July 1, 2015,” says Maureen Knight, AAMA government affairs/product stewardship manager. The proposed rules include public buildings built before 1978 and commercial buildings that are not child-occupied facilities.

Costs of the lead paint rules are expected to "skyrocket if commercial contractors are forced into RRP rule compliance," Knight says. "These fees are extremely detrimental to renovation firms. Many won’t be able to shoulder the costs and will cease to conduct renovations on impacted buildings or be forced to charge a substantial premium to building owners. Others will simply ignore the rule and cause a significantly unfair playing field."

It seems the EPA is working hard to minimize push-back from industry with the commercial lead paint rules through extensive communication with stakeholder companies and trade associations. The agency established a Small Business Review Panel, is gathering data about the OSHA construction standard for lead, and is surveying contractors.

Industry companies can get involved and make sure the construction industry's voice is heard by reading through the proposal, officially called the “Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Lead-Based Paint Hazards from Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings,” and commenting. The deadline to comment is June 30.

“It is very important to keep an eye on this, and to continue to issue comments,” Knight says. "We’ve already witnessed home renovation contractors withdrawing their services from impacted homes. Compliance costs have significantly increased the cost of doing business and ultimately the cost to homeowners, which subsequent stifles home retrofits and reduces the number of home improvement products purchased. The same circumstances will likely happen in the commercial renovation market."

Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, June 9, 2014

Later this week the World Cup kicks off and soccer fans from all around the world will be glued to their TVs and computers following the action. With all the hype around this event, it made me think: If we had a World Cup of the glass and glazing industry, what country would be the winner? Obviously because of homegrown bias, I would probably join many others and say the United States wins that sort of approach in a landslide. But does it? Is the United States that dominant when it comes to technology or efficiency improvements? How does it stack up versus Canada, Mexico, Germany and China (yes China). And obviously Finland, Italy, Japan, Spain and Israel are among countries really active in our industry, too.

So given all of that, which country is the best in our industry?  Over the next month, as the World Cup of soccer is playing out, I will be determining the World Cup of Glass. I’ll be using the parameters of innovation, quality, products and industry support as the guidelines. And let me know your thoughts, too--via e-mail is fine; I always love learning and I’ll appreciate the insights as I determine the champ. And yes, right now I am sure the Chinese contingent is preparing a protest that there’s no way I’d judge them fairly, but I promise I will!


  • As for the actual World Cup, I don’t know enough to say who will win, but I have friends from all over the world who have their rooting interests. And when those teams win, like my pal Joe Staffileno’s Italian team did a few years ago, the euphoria is real.
  • Congrats to my old friend and co-worker Bob Cummings on his new position at Hartung Glass. Bob is one of the best around, classy and hard working, and he’ll do great within that super organization.
  • I had to make a trip to Omaha this past weekend, and while preparing for it I looked at the weather and saw a forecast I had never seen before. It said “Mostly cloudy and humid, storms expected, with large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado.”  Ummm “…and a TORNADO”? That just blew my mind. Luckily that forecast was wrong, but never before did I actually see a forecast predicting one!
  • With Kuraray acquiring the DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions, will that signal the end of the name DuPont in our industry? Will we be living in an industry where the long-time classic names Solutia and DuPont don’t exist?
  • I have to admit I am very bummed that California Chrome did not win the Triple Crown. I am not sure I’ll see another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime.
  • Last this week, AIA is a couple of weeks away. This year it will be interesting to see how the show does. It is tough timing for sure. But it's in Chicago, a city everyone loves to visit, and the trade show scene is very hot right now. Funny thing for me is when I started to research the show, five of the seven largest booth spaces (not including AIA spaces) taken at the show are companies in the glass and window industry. I guess that never-ending desire to gain love and acceptance from the architect continues. I swear, when it comes to this scenario we as an industry act like the awkward boy in high school pining over the homecoming queen. And you know how those stories always turn out…

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

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, June 2, 2014

Photo courtesty of NBC Chicago’s Twitter, @nbcchicago


My Twitter and Facebook feeds exploded last week when the news broke (pun intended) that the glass floor cracked on one of Willis Tower’s 1,353-foot-high ledges. Heart-stopping: yes. Dangerous: no.

The headlines were sensational: “The Ledge Cracks and Shatters During Family Visit;” “Tourist tells of ‘this-cannot-be-it type of moment’ during Willis Tower incident.” And the comments were hilarious: “Chicago, Chicago! New attraction: Fall from the 103rd floor or 1,353 ft!” However, anyone familiar with glass floors knows that they are made to withstand breakage and remain structurally safe.

I called Ludek Cerny, who was the glazing project manager for The Ledge glass boxes when they were installed in 2009. Cerny explained that The Ledge’s glass floors are made up of three ½-inch lites of low-iron glass, laminated with DuPont’s Sentry Glass Plus. The laminated floor is topped with a ¼-inch sacrificial layer of fully tempered heat-soaked glass. It was the sacrificial glass lite that broke underfoot of the tourists last week.

“The sacrificial layer is there to protect the main structural glass floor against minor impacts and scratches. It did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Cerny said. “It can be replaced relatively quickly. If the glass is stocked in the building, it should only take 4-6 hours.”

A statement last week from the Skydeck Chicago echoed Cerny’s explanation. “The Ledge was designed with a protective coating that covers the glass surfaces to protect against scratches. This coating does not affect the structural integrity of The Ledge in any way. Occasionally, the protective coating will crack, as it is designed to in order to protect the surface of the glass. We are replacing the protective coating on the one affected Ledge.”

Photo courtesy of The AP

Cerny went on to explain the incredible testing that was performed on The Ledge system prior to installation. For the structural load test, “we created a Ledge box with all the fittings used in the actual construction and loaded it with steel weights, 500 pounds at a time, measuring the deflection throughout the process,” Cerny said. “Several thousand pounds of steel weights were loaded. And, when the entire load was on, we broke the top [laminated] lite. The deflection increased, but not tremendously. We then went ahead and broke the second lite. There was a little more deflection, but it still held several thousand pounds.”

At that point, the system went beyond the requirements of the structural tests, as it supported several thousand pounds of weight with two of the three laminated lites broken. However, out of curiosity, the team decided to see what would happen if the final third laminated lite was broken. “After the third lite was broken, we walked across it. We were easily supported with just the structural interlayers,” Cerny said.

After having walked on The Ledge just a few months ago, I can certainly understand why it would be an alarming experience to see and hear the glass beneath you break, while looking down more than 100 stories. However, it’s nice to be reminded of how safe and strong those systems really are.

Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, June 2, 2014

Our industry made national news this week when "The Ledge” at Willis Tower in Chicago had a busted piece of glass. This now famous all-glass overlook suffered a breakage on its sacrificial layer, and to us glass people it's no big deal. But to the worldwide media, it was the opportunity for hysteria.

Usually the media only pays attention to us during ratings months when they do the classic—and overdone—investigative reports on mysterious glass breakages in your shower and patio table glass. So, this gave them something new to bring to the table and allow the mis-education to fester. After a couple of days, the folks writing the stories finally hit upon real experts to explain no one was in danger and so on, but by then it was too late. Maybe one of these days we’ll get proactive stories on things like our energy-efficient glass; dynamics; or hurricane-, safety- and fire-rated glazing. You know, products that make a REAL difference. I can dream, can’t I?



  • Thanks to the always classy James Wright of Glass Coatings and Concepts for some of the heads up on the above adventure. Always great to hear from you my friend!
  • The neatest story in a long time may be the one from Western Window Systems where one of their employees got company logo tattoos. Loyalty is tough anywhere in this world, so seeing someone care enough about the company he works for to make it permanent is a pretty cool thing.
  • Another industry retirement this past week. Phil Blizzard of YKK AP is hanging it up. Phil spent more than 30 years in the industry, and my interactions with him were always memorable. Simply, Phil is just a good guy. Enjoy your new life and catch lots of fish.
  • Check out this story about a giant bear taking a nap on a utility pole. It is surely clickable, because it’s not something you see every day!
  • Good luck this week to the folks in Canada at the Glass Connections Conference. From all indications, this show is primed to be fantastic, and I still remain bummed I’m unable to attend. Once again though, it continues the hot trend of trade shows and their effectiveness. 
  • On that note, registration is now open for GlassBuild America. Last week I noted the phenomenal new education set up, and this week the show is now open for business. With the floor loading up with innovative exhibitors from all over the world, it’s going to be epic!
  • Last this week, it’s now June. Soon we will be halfway through this year; it’s flying by for me. Maybe because we had no spring. Though I am thrilled to say I have not yet had to turn on my air conditioning. As someone who prefers to be cold than hot (theory being I can always add layers, love sweatshirts etc.), I usually jump to get the AC going. Now that I probably jinxed myself, it will be 90 here and when I do click the cold air on, it probably won’t work!


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

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.

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