I made a big mistake last week, and broke a rule I’d been told many times before: Never test drive a car you can’t afford (or don’t have room in your garage for). You see, I made the mistake of walking past a Tesla showroom with time to spare. Before long, I was on a test drive of the new Model S, all electric sedan, around the streets of Seattle.
After a brief 45-minute drive, I’d like to suggest the following. First, keep your old internal combustion car (better yet, with a manual clutch) for yourself or the scrapyard – your kids or grandkids will have no need or interest in it. Second, you WILL be driving an electric car in the next 10 years.
The Model S totally changed both my past perceptions and preconceived notions all in the short span of 45 minutes. Finally, traditional automotive manufacturers have some serious catching up to do… quickly.
This experience got me thinking about our own industry, and the opportunities we see (or don’t) that are ripe for innovation. Like my experience with the Model S, advances in glass technology are demolishing expectations around what is possible when it comes to building design and performance.
Let me explain. Architects specify glass to help make buildings more comfortable, with access to abundant natural light and views – whether it’s a view of a mountain or a cityscape. Nothing unusual about that. But as building codes and owner expectations have evolved, glass is now being called upon to do much more.
For example, ask a person on the street if window glass can stand up to a hurricane, and you’re likely to get a resounding “no!” since they’ve seen TV news images of windows blowing out during big storms. But, true to our industry’s spirit of innovation that I blogged about last month, manufacturers offer a range of glazing that can meet the nation’s most stringent hurricane codes – those of Miami-Dade County, Florida. Such products have been around for several years, but what about glass that is both hurricane-safe and fire-rated? Architects have been asking for that multi-performance, which is now coming to market.
Likewise, as communities demand that schools better defend against mass shootings, glass is playing a role. A parent might think that a concrete wall is needed to protect their children at school, but again, glass demolishes expectations. Architects are specifying high-performance glass in schools to make a more light-filled and conducive learning environment, while also resisting bullets and providing staff and police necessary visibility in and out of the building during emergencies.
For everyone in the glass business, good job at demolishing expectations around what is possible with glass – keep up the great work.
Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products, 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 Fire-Rated Glazing Council. He can be reached at 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.