glassblog

Monday, February 2, 2015

As all of us in this industry know, it's not without its troubles. If asked, most people will mention the need for qualified employees such as manufacturing help, maintenance and--on the glazing side--project managers. But the next need mentioned is usually education and it’s nice to see the efforts one company is putting towards that effort. The PPG Glass Education Center is an incredible resource. I visited it again this week after the release of their newest video on Weather Resistant Design, and I was once again blown away. There is simply a ton of info on there from the basic to the very advanced. It can be a training center for new employees and a great resource for seasoned veterans. In the end, it’s a very impressive vehicle for our industry to use. Major kudos to Paul DiCesare and the tech team at PPG on the content, as well as Paul Bush on that regard and of course, I must give props to the marketing guru Rob Struble for his efforts on making this fly. Well done, folks!

Elsewhere…

More props for companies doing good things…

  • How about Viracon? The folks there raised more than $112,000 for the United Way of Steele County. That is simply an amazing and awesome total. Congrats to Carla Kern who chaired this effort for Viracon and every employee there for giving of themselves.
  • And another one while I am at it, Garibaldi Glass announced their intent to have their annual “Glass Day” program on May 1. This is going to be the fifth edition of an event that provides tremendous education and insight into our industry. I have heard so much about this event over the years and my goal this year is to finally be there in person. And yes, while an event like this has a great benefit to Garibaldi, it also does wonders in educating the region (glaziers, architects, owners, etc.) on the world of glass and glazing.
  • Education will also be at the forefront at Glass Processing Automation Days in San Antonio in March. Info on this event was just released and it has the potential to offer some great insight for the fabricator. I’ll surely have more on this as it gets closer. 
  • The NFRC is possibly getting some competition. It's not in our actual industry, but this could lead to openings elsewhere. The Window Covering Manufacturers Association with support from the Department of Energy is starting the Attachments Energy Ratings Council. So now the NFRC, which has always been the one and only group with the ability to rate window film and attachments, could be getting some competition if this takes off. And it's competition with the backing of the DOE, which is huge. So this will be one to watch. 
  • Next week I will have my Super Bowl commercial likes/dislikes since that is now my favorite part of the game. I'm also still trying to figure out why the Seahawks passed instead of ran at the end. Amazing failure there. Wow.

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, January 26, 2015

We are very early into the New Year, but the economic indicators and predictions are all quite bullish. The Architectural Billings Index and Dodge Momentum Index both have been plugging along in the positive. In addition, cash flow predictions are finally improving and pointing to a healthy bump in nonresidential construction starts. So, while we have legitimate concerns on supply and transport, at least for the near future, the business climate is still looking to be very ripe.

Elsewhere…

  • Excited to say there’s a new blog out there for everyone to check out. One of the industry's true influencers, John Wheaton of Wheaton-Sprague, has joined the blogosphere. Check out his initial efforts. With the incredible insight that John is always sharing, usually on Twitter, his blog will easily become a must read.
  • Speaking of must-reads, major kudos to Katy Devlin of Glass Magazine for the coverage she provided from the BAU event last week in Munich. Katy went solo to the show and cranked out incredible, timely coverage via Twitter and on GlassMagazine.com. She made the show come to life, allowing all of us unable to attend at least have the ability to follow along in real time.
  • I mentioned this a year ago, but was at this airport again this week. Dulles Airport is absolutely a masterpiece for a glass geek to take in. Simply awesome applications everywhere.
  • It was on the trip to D.C. this week when for the first time ever I had a cab ride where the cabbie did not have a GPS. So I’m running the directions from the GPS on my phone. I am still scratching my head on that one. How can you be in that position without that tool? Another reason I try and do Uber instead; those guys HAVE to have GPS.
  • I was doing research this week and I ran into an old Glass Magazine article penned by Greg Carney. Man I miss that guy. With the annual GANA events coming up in the next several weeks, I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about Greg a ton.
  • Those GANA events I speak of, the Annual Conference and BEC, are scheduled for early March in Las Vegas. BEC, thanks to the incredible leadership from Jon Kimberlain of Dow Corning, is really primed to be another excellent edition. The agenda this year is very strong with some great speakers including Joseph Puishys, the CEO from Apogee. A few people in the know have told me that Mr. Puishys is an incredible public speaker. So I am looking forward to that for sure. In the coming weeks, I’ll surely highlight more of the agenda as well.
  • Last this week, I have to ask, outside of the New England fans (including the great Dan Pompeo of Architectural Glazing Solutions who is off the charts with his support of Boston area teams), is anyone rooting for the Patriots next week? I am on record already with my Seahawks support and prediction, so that’s not changing. But I just wonder if there’s anyone who’s not a normal fan of either team rooting for New England. Regardless, I will be watching the game for the commercials as much as the game itself.

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, January 26, 2015

Architects and designers are requesting more from glass, in part to help them realize their increasingly complex, out-of-the-box building designs. And now it seems it’s not only the architects who want “different.” Officials from two American cities—Boston and Orlando—recently encouraged developers to propose more thoughtful designs and iconic looks for newly constructed downtown buildings.

According to a Jan. 9 article in the Boston Herald, “Boston Mayor Argues for Bolder Building Design,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh told an audience at the Boston Chamber of Commerce in December that downtown Boston needed more innovative architecture. The Mayor called the latest buildings installed during the city’s recent building boom “merely functional,” and urged developers to go beyond the normal and create structures that reflect Boston’s “culture of innovation.”

It’s a noble charge, but as anyone involved in any level of the construction industry knows, high-quality designs come with a high price tag. In the article, Tom O'Brien, managing director of HYM Investment Group, said, "Developers will now be looking at how to create a revenue benefit from the extra expense of creating better designs to add to the skyline."

Kamran Zahedi, president of Boston developer Urbanica, says the city’s developers should take cues from European countries which have developed innovative multi-family housing projects within tight budgets. "It would be sad if we do not also create beautiful 21st century architecture here in Boston," he said.

The Jan. 26 Orlando Sentinel article “No Space Needle or Gateway Arch: What Defines Orlando's Skyline?” details Orlando’s desire for innovative design, asking, “Why doesn't Orlando have a skyline that stands out?” City Hall development task force members want “iconic” architecture to give the city a “unique and identifiable brand”—beyond Disney World. 

According to the article, city planners said downtown Orlando probably won't see a building taller than the 441-foot SunTrust Center—the tallest building in Orlando—due to the close proximity of Orlando Executive Airport. But city officials and members of the task force say tall isn’t the key; it’s creating something that communicates and identifies the city’s spirit.

However, sometimes what’s unique is not what the locals ordered. As if in response to Boston’s and Orlando’s pleas for iconographic buildings, Rowan Moore in the Jan. 18 Guardian article “The last thing east London needs is another seven towers” describes the pitfalls of the proposed high-rise development in East London’s Tech City. He says that all the opponents of the development agree it has nothing to do with the area, and quotes the area's mayor: “this scheme is completely unsuitable for this part of [the local area].”

Tech City workers oppose the new development because it does not offer the right kind of space to vitalize small- to mid-sized enterprises in the area; conservationists oppose it because “the towers will crash into views in neighboring conservation areas, as the relationship of the new to the old is clumsy”; and Tech City residents oppose it because it will cast a shadow, eliminating already integrated daylighting in buildings hundreds of yards north. Moore also points out that the development is unlikely to have more than 10 percent of its units as affordable housing. Developers argue that the complexities of the site “make it unprofitable to offer more, or to reduce the bulk of their towers.”

And this is where all the talk of bigger, better, more complex buildings really hits home. Design at its roots should be practical. And structures that do communicate the essence of a place are all about what they offer to and say about the people who live there. “It’s not a beautiful word, localism,” says Moore. “But it’s an ideal with whose basics it is hard to disagree: that local residents and businesses should have a say in what happens to their communities.”

Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at bstough@glass.org.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's a different post than normal this week, as I am just talking one subject—books. Over the holidays I read one of the best books ever: What Did Jesus Drive: Crisis PR in Cars, Computers, and Christianity by Jason Vines. The book is an extreme look inside the world of public relations at the highest level, where the media spotlight seems to be on 24/7. The majority of this book is how Vines, the PR lead for Ford and Chrysler (among others), handled major public relations issues with his companies, and the strategies and thoughts behind the decisions. Plus there's some great background on the most successful marketing plays ever pulled off in the auto industry. The best part of this book was the style of writing; it was written like you were having dinner with the author who's just telling you stories about his days in the trenches. No “political correctness” scrubbing, just the whole story in a conversational manner.

So what does this have to do with the glass business? Basically my immediate thought was that we are pretty fortunate as an industry that for the most part our PR crises do not go mainstream and if they do they surely peter out quickly. In addition it gave me perspective on how to handle events if they came up. Overall it’s just a great business read on the inner workings of the car, computer, and Bible industry. (Yes, a portion of the book is dedicated to a company with the task of reprinting the Bible and that was pretty fascinating to me. I never expected that industry to have any issues that is for sure!) Those of you who know me and have been reading this blog since 2005, know that my favorite all-time business book is The Disney War by James B. Stewart. I have to say that this one may knock that from the top.

Next up on the list is Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson. Should be interesting to read especially right after the Vines book.

That’s it for this post; I apologize for no links or video of the week. We’ll be back to normal next 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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

BAU 2015, dubbed the “World’s Leading Trade Fair for Architecture, Materials and Systems,” kicked off yesterday in Munich. This is my first time attending BAU, and thus far I find it immense … and exciting. The six-day show hosts 2,000 exhibitors from 46 countries, and occupies all 17 halls of Messe München—in total 180,000 square meters of gross exhibition space.

The glass, aluminum and façade trades occupy about three halls of the show floor. And throughout those halls, increasingly complex, better performing and sophisticated glass, curtain wall and window system design take center stage. Below are the top trends that caught my eye on the first day of the show.

  • Ventilation. To maximize performance and occupant comfort, European markets increasingly demand ventilation solutions for their façades. Tilt-and-turn products for nonresidential applications were evident throughout the floor, along with a growing number of alternative venting solutions. View photos from the floor.  
  • Integrated solar shading. The more stringent energy codes in Europe have also driven the trend toward solar control solutionsmechanical blinds within the insulating glass unit, dynamic glasses, in-façade metal screens, sliding shutters and more. Many of the dynamic solar solutions can also be automatically controlled to maximize building performance. View photos from the floor. 
  • Complex facades. From multifaceted geometries to multi-material curtain walls, suppliers are capable of ever-more-complex façade systems. 
  • All-glass doors and movable walls. The trend in all-glass sliders and multi-fold wall systems continues to move toward bigger units with smaller hardware. Suppliers are now offering floor-to-ceiling glass doors and walls that seem to float through space as they're opened and closed, due to the minimalistic hardware. Manufacturers are also offering a growing number of automatic openers for these all-glass systems. View photos from the floor.  
  • Frameless systems. Customers are also seeking this all-glass look for their exterior door, window and wall systems, prompting manufacturers to develop a growing selection of frameless solutions.

View additional photos from the show floor, and follow @GlassMag on Twitter for additional coverage throughout the week.

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, January 12, 2015

Investment in equipment and software will reach an all-time high in 2015, according to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association. ELFA released its Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015 today, noting that U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government agencies are on tap to spend nearly $1.5 trillion this year for capital goods or fixed business investment.

Is the glass industry part of this $1.5 trillion investment boom? Absolutely.

Capital investment is in full swing among companies across the glass industry. According to Glass Magazine’s Top Metal Companies survey, 81 percent of respondents report plans to invest in new capital equipment. The same is true among glass fabricators, with 78 percent of companies reporting plans to buy fabrication machinery in 2015, according to Glass Magazine’s Top Glass Fabricators report, set to run in the January/February issue.

Infographic: Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015

So, what should glass companies keep in mind as they invest throughout the year? First, companies should eye expansion in addition to replacement. According to the ELFA report, expansion will overtake replacement in 2015, as firms look beyond simply replacing aging assets, and expand to meet growing demand. “The pent-up replacement demand that has driven equipment investment in previous years may be supplemented by long-awaited expansion investment as capacity utilization rates in some industries reach or surpass levels historically known to spur business investment. Industries poised for investment growth include oil and gas extraction and transportation equipment manufacturing,” according to ELFA.

Additionally, ELFA anticipates credit will become increasingly available throughout the year, as the economy continues to improve. “As the economy steadily improves and business confidence continues to increase, credit standards should modestly loosen,” according to ELFA. This will be a long-anticipated change for companies in and out of the glass industry that have faced tight credit since the Recession.

Glass companies should continue to watch short-term interest rates. While rates have remained low, encouraging investment, ELFA anticipates the Federal Reserve will raise rates in the year. Business should invest while rates are low to “lock in equipment financing at lower rates,” according to the report.

2015 is poised to offer prime opportunities for investment and expansion. And, as ITR Economist Jeff Dietrich said at the Glazing Executives Forum in September, "It's time to get off the fence and invest." 

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, January 12, 2015

It's a  very packed blog this week, but before I get to the news portion, I want to remember a great man who passed over the holidays. Lowell Rager, formerly of Libbey-Owens-Ford and best known from his days at Ford and Visteon Glass, passed away at the end of last month. Lowell was absolutely one of the nicest and classiest gentlemen in our industry.  A technical icon, he knew everything and what he did not know he learned with great ferocity. He was, among many other things, the guy behind educating the industry on the turtle code. The code was so bizarre that many could not believe it, but Lowell knew everything there was to know about it and the glass that was needed to save turtles and other marine life. Lowell carried himself with style, always dressed nicely, with a smile and solid handshake.

One of the last times I saw him was a mid-summer day in Detroit, at a jobsite that had the always fun “quench marks” on the glass. Lowell deftly explained and handled the issue better than anyone I have ever known. He did this all while not breaking a sweat—wearing a suit and tie—in the searing Michigan humidity. Cool and in control. No one else could pull that off.  Whenever I would compliment Lowell in my blog or in person, he would tell me I was “much too kind.” Well, I can say he deserved every compliment and then some. The world and our industry is not as good today and in the future without Lowell. Rest in peace, my friend.

Elsewhere…

  • No doubt the fall out from the Trulite-AGC deal dominated the industry last week. The biggest surprise was the immediate closure of some of the acquired facilities. I had totally misread that. Maybe I am naïve or just plain clueless (don't answer that!), but I did not expect facilities to close so fast. I figured some would, just not on day one. Probably the only silver lining is the fact that those who are losing their jobs should be in major demand since qualified employees are very hard to find in our industry. Still sad. And now the watch begins to see how the rest of the industry reacts to markets being consolidated.
  • Also there was a tremendous comment (and my attempt at a reply) posted on my blog on the Glass Magazine site that talked about how the industry has changed. Great take; worth reading and considering.
  • Last week I recapped my 2014 predictions. Now it's time for my five fearless predictions for the glass and glazing industry for 2015.
  1. Instead of one big acquisition in our industry, I am predicting several smaller ones, maybe along the lines of five or six this year. I do think one sale will be a company who no one expected would sell.
  2. The “bird safe” revolution for glass will grow with more and more architects starting to ask for it.
  3. With North America now loaded with more digital printers for glass than ever, 2015 will be the year where their usage in several industry segments takes off.
  4. At least two major companies will return to participate heavily in GlassBuild America this fall. With the show being a premier attraction, some companies who have skipped will realize they can’t miss it again.
  5. The glass shortage will have an effect but the transportation issues will be even worse—items that the industry will have to be very creative and proactive to deal with.
  • Speaking of transportation issues, this is another angle on what we are up against, from the Detroit Free Press on January 4th: 

For example, a nationwide shortage of truck drivers recently forced Ann Arbor Township-based shipping company Con-way Freight to launch its own driver school. The firm provides 12 weeks of training at no cost for prospective drivers, who spend half of that time earning compensation for dock work until they receive their certification.

Con-way expects to train and hire 50 Michigan-based truck drivers in 2015 — all of whom return to their homes at night, unlike long-haul drivers — and about 1,600 nationwide. The company gave a "significant" raise to its current drivers in June and plans to deliver another one in January, said Con-way Freight President Greg Lehmkuhl.

"More than anything else in the next few years, it's a war for qualified and safe drivers," Lehmkuhl said. "The whole industry is raising wages to attract people into the driving profession."

So glass haulers, already short on qualified people, now have to take on nimble companies looking to control the game themselves. Not to mention, fabricators who need to hire or keep drivers face the same pressures. This is a tough one, folks.

  • Last this week, a crazy one. I am pretty much a protectionist when it comes to North America, so what to do when the United States and Canada get in a fight over building material supply? This is a bizarre story involving steel: who makes it and where it goes. Reading it makes me feel like a kid between divorcing parents. Make sure you scan some of the comments, too; some wild takes there. Let’s hope diplomacy, compromise and logic take hold here instead of backbiting.

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.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 is off and running. But before the calendar turned, the deal that I hinted at finally came to life. The purchase of the AGC fabrication locations in the United States by Trulite is a big deal. Whenever you have one large operation buying another there’s going to be disruption in the marketplace. For both organizations, in my opinion, there are positives out of the gate. For AGC, the deal allows them to focus efforts on the company's core competency of float manufacturing and coating. For Trulite, it gives them more critical mass in terms of locations and talent.

As for the industry, it’s another major consolidation to deal with, and the fallout that comes with it. That fallout will possibly/probably include reactions from other companies looking to keep pace, or fill territorial holes. That process surely won’t be a dull one to watch. In the end, deals this size will be judged a year from now when integration is complete and all of the parts and pieces are where Trulite wants them to be. Until then, we’ll be watching the ripples and also keeping mind of a few other deals that are percolating out there. A new year is underway and it's going to be fun.

Elsewhere…

  • In my first blog in 2014, I made predictions for the year. How did I do? Below are the predicitions with my comments in italics:
  1. There will be one major acquisition in the glass fabrication side of the business that will have the industry buzzing. Otherwise, 2014 will be light on the merger/acquisition side. But look out, 2015 will be crazy with them.  

    – It took until the last days of 2014, but I got this one right!!
  2. Both GANA BEC and GlassBuild America will be hugely successful. And yes I have worked or do work with both of these so consider my bias, but I will say both are primed for big years. The BEC 2014 has a very strong agenda, and I have seen the plans for GlassBuild America, and I promise you that you will be impressed and WANT to be there.

    - Count me as 2 for 2. Both events were fantastic and must attends, as they will be this year as well.
  3. A new green rating system will start to take hold. Right now LEED is beyond dominant and will continue to be the major player, but look out for one of the smaller organizations breaking through.

    – Unfortunately despite some good efforts out there, LEED is still the monster; I am not sure anyone will knock them off soon. This also may have been more of a wish than a prediction.
  4. The code battles will continue and I believe an unlikely ally (another industry) will join forces with the glass industry giving us a stronger voice in the proceedings.

    – This actually was somewhat quiet. We had the win early in the year and not much else happened. So count this as a miss.
  5. The use of 4th surface low-E will continue to grow and become a much bigger player in the specification process.

    – I am seeing more of it but not as much as I thought. Give me a ½ right here.

So, final tally: 2 dead on, 2 misses, and 1 almost. Not bad. Next week I will run my predictions for 2015. Stay tuned.

  • Congrats to my friend Donald Press over at Okalux North America as he continues to build a nice team there, with the latest being the addition of Peter Stattler to the team. Peter brings even more talent (on top of everything Donald and his current team posess) to this group. Nice move!
  • Speaking of talented friends, Ted Bleecker fits that description and he’s one to follow on Twitter (@tedbleecker) for insightful and interesting links on energy and solar related matters. Last week, he linked a good one worth sharing here on the top 5 reasons 2015 will be a positive year in the energy world. Good stuff. 
  • Another interesting article I found while enjoying the holidays was this one on the Miami Heat suing the architect of their arena. Some neat insight into construction overruns and egos. 
  • Last this week, my fearless and sure-to-be-wrong choice for the Super Bowl… the Seahawks. Yep, going the easy route of a No. 1 seed. Since I like the Seahawks and their fans so much, I hate to even put them in such a jinxed position. Though on January 5th, 2014, I picked the Seahawks to win last years' game and my stink did not stop them then.

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, January 5, 2015

In recent months, companies across the supply chain have expressed increasing concern over capacity constraints facing the global glass industry. Many fear that production capacity, which was slashed during the Great Recession, will be unable to meet the rising demands from a rebounding construction market.

“With the economy recovering, there will be a pinch in supply. It happens; it has happened before,” said an official from one U.S. glass manufacturer in a 2014 interview with Glass Magazine.

That comment piqued my curiosity. When has this ‘pinch in supply’ happened? And what did it look like for the U.S. glass industry?

In a few moments of Googling, I discovered one historical glass shortage from nearly 100 years ago with characteristics roughly echoing our current capacity constraints—though, the cause and extent differed greatly.

In 1920, officials from the National Association of Window Glass Manufacturers declared a shortage of glass, particularly for commercial applications, due to a labor shortage, and due to rising demand following a sharp reduction of manufacturing capacity. Sound familiar?

Glass manufacturing officials said in a July 6, 1920, article from the New York Times, that the industry’s output was cut by 50 percent—in their case, due to World War I, rather than a worldwide recession. Officials described “an almost total suspension of glass making in Western European countries while the allied nations were fighting the Central Powers and a slow recovery from a practically complete paralysis of the glass trade there.”

That glass shortage of 1920 was faced even more acutely in Europe. According to the article, “Practically all of the allied countries are clamoring for glass in their reconstruction programs and production is lagging. Devices are being used in lieu of machinery destroyed [in the war], which were accounted antiquated in the United States twenty or even thirty years ago.”

How did U.S. manufacturers of 100 years ago plan to address the shortage? According to a related report from the July 17, 1920 edition of the Electric Railway Journal, companies focused on improving production technologies, and extended their production hours. “One encouraging factor … is the wonderful progress being made with glass production by machine,” according to the report. Manufacturers also continued operations throughout the summer to “catch up with the volume of unfilled orders.”

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, December 15, 2014

 While most of the headlines in California focused on the much needed rain, many awoke last Monday, Dec. 8, to a different story. Overnight, the DaVinci Apartment Complex in downtown Los Angeles was engulfed in flames – destroying the property and damaging nearby buildings. 

What surprised many people who learned of the fire wasn’t that the building itself was ruined, but rather the damage caused to nearby government buildings due to radiant energy generated by the fire. 

According to the next-day story in the LA Times, “The fire damaged the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Intense heat from the blaze cracked at least 160 windows—each 10 feet high by 4 feet wide.”

The article continued, “The blaze damaged other nearby buildings, including one that houses city agencies. ‘There are windows blown out all the way up the side of our building,’ said Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini.”

 
The Kensington in Boston features 1-hour fire-resistive curtain wall featuring Safti First’s SuperLite II-XL 60 in an insulating glass unit with Solarban 70XL from PPG. The fire-rated framing is Safti’s GPX CW Framing.  The architect was The Architecture Team (TAT); the building envelope consultant was Curtain wall Design and Consulting (CDC); and Cheviot served as the glazing contractor. 

Fire-rated glass and framing are commonly used in interior applications (exit corridors, stairwells, etc.) to give occupants the opportunity to evacuate the building or seek safe harbor while awaiting rescue.  However, with building construction happening closer together in major cities, we’ve seen an increase in fire rated glazing used in exterior applications because of property line requirements. 

Where fire ratings must be maintained in order to prevent or slow the spread of fire between buildings, architects now use fire rated glass to meet code requirements without sacrificing views or natural light (click here for information on the IBC requirements for exterior fire rated applications).  

Fire-rated glass and framing products that meet code reduce the auxiliary damage created from events similar to the fire at the DaVinci Apartments. Manufacturers have developed products that, when used as a complete fire-rated assembly, compartmentalize smoke, flames and radiant heat in accordance with ASTM E119/NFPA 251/UL263.  

While no injuries were reported from the DaVinci fire, the incident reinforces the necessity of fire-rated glass and framing in such exterior applications. While more traditional interior fire-rated glass products provide safe egress for occupants during a fire, exterior fire-rated glazing assemblies provide valuable protection to occupants in the event of fire at adjacent buildings. And, the assemblies can protect while allowing architects to meet their aesthetic goals. 

Tim Nass is vice president of national sales for Safti First, a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing products. The company works closely with architects and building envelope consultants to ensure owners and occupants get the highest quality products and safest design possible.

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