Last week I took my daughter on a college campus tour at Michigan State University. In the middle of campus, a building absolutely stuck out and took all of my attention. The structure was the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and while I had read about it over the years and seen a picture or two, it did not shake me until I saw it up close. The late, great Zaha Hadid designed the building and calling it iconic may be an understatement. The first thing that stuck me of course was the glass. The curtain wall was unique and breathtaking. And then inside the oversized all-glass doors with what looked like ¾-inch glass stopped me in my tracks. Just the way this project utilized glass and how perfect it all looked had me completely blown away.
So when I got back home after the tour I made sure to try and find out more and I had thought that Guardian was involved in some form or fashion. Sure enough after a note to Chris Dolan, he not only confirmed that Guardian was involved but also shared a great video that showed exactly how deep the involvement went. All I can say is the glass makeup alone--a quad-pane IG--featuring low-E, Argon and silkscreen made me glad I was seeing this after the fact and not worrying about producing it! Anyway, the video is only about three minutes long, and if you are glass geek, it is absolutely well worth the watch.
Side note: My conduct during this part of the tour had our guide a bit worried. I was studying every piece of glass up close, going to my knees trying to look at logos etc. My daughter just shook her head; it’s not the first time she’s seen me go gaga on a glass and glazing project. Oh, and side note No. 2: Despite this amazing building, Michigan State did NOT crack my daughter's top three for colleges, much to the chagrin of her mother and I who would love to have her only two hours from home instead of the current long trip choices she’s considering. Obviously she hasn’t learned yet that great glass is always a big part of every decision!
- Last week I noted that I would have more on the latest Architectural Billings Index report. At the end of the report, the AIA included some comments from firms, and I wanted to share a few of them here because I think what the architects are going through absolutely mirrors our industry:
We are in a position to turn away work that does not fit our schedule/staffing. The downside is that we having a hard time hiring competent new employees.—80-person firm in the Midwest, institutional specialization
First quarter was a roller coaster ride of work and no work. Hopefully moving forward the hills and valleys will lessen.—6-person firm in the South, commercial/industrial specialization
Labor shortage is killing us. Firms are cannibalizing each other’s staff. The way you combat this is by making the firm a great place to work.—125-person firm in the West, institutional specialization
So workforce is an issue along with crazy and inconsistent performance in the 1Q. While the economic side is seemingly leveling out, the labor shortage is a massive worry. I am surprised because with all of the downsizing architectural firms did during the downturn, I would’ve thought a labor shortage would not be one of their issues. I also wonder if it’s not so much of a labor need but rather the desire to do more with less and not grow like they did previously. Anyway, I found it interesting that there’s certainly similarities between our world and the world of design.
- Previously I had written about the closing of Spectrum Glass. Now the government is pushing down on another player in the colored glass world and they’re trying to fight back. Click here for more info. This continues to be a story to watch on many fronts. It obviously is affecting business, and that will have a trickle down for sure. But what about the environment? That is surely a concern, too. When I shared this with a friend this week, she replied: does the need for something outweigh what is safe? It’s surely something that is not an easy call for anyone. My heart goes out to the folks in business caught in the middle of this, and hopefully something can work out for all in the end!
- Last this week, please note that I did pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup here on the blog back in April. OK, now it’s time for my normal jinx to arrive….Please.
Max Perilstein 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.