What architects want

Architects, a demanding bunch, push for performance, innovative design and aesthetics. Read about the trends in larger lite sizes, custom curtain wall, green glazing, aluminum panels, steel curtain wall and energy rating education in articles authored by representatives from leading companies in the industry.

LEED education, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga.

Steel curtain wall, Technical Glass Products, Snoqualmie, Wash.

Wall panels, Petersen Aluminum Corp., Chicago

Custom curtain wall, Oldcastle Glass, Santa Monica, Calif.

Large lites, Viracon, Owatonna, Minn.

Green glazing, Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich.

Leadership in green design

By Lisa Szematowicz, LEED AP, associate product manager, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga. Visit www.kawneer.com for more information.
Photo courtesy of Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga.; CJ Berg Photographics, Lynden, Wash.
The project: PCL Centennial Learning Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, a LEED Gold-certified building.

The players:
Architect, Cohos Evamy integratedesign, Edmonton; general contractor, PCL Constructors Inc., Edmonton; glazing contractor, Beacon Glass Products Ltd., St. Albert, Alberta; curtain wall, strip window, skylight and entrance system supplier, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga.

The glass and systems: Kawneer 7500 Wall curtain wall and strip windows, 2000 Skylight, 360 Insulclad Thermal Entrances, 350 Medium Stile Entrances.

Sustainable design, no longer a lofty goal, has become a priority in the building and construction industry. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, more than 5 billion square feet of commercial building space in the United States is involved with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building certification system. However, confusion around LEED still abounds.

As the requirements for LEED certification become increasingly stringent, it is critical that architects have the most up-to-date information during the development stage. Building product manufacturers play a significant role in the process. By educating themselves on how products may contribute to LEED certification, manufacturers can be better equipped to provide architects with detailed information that can assist with a project’s design and development.

Kawneer developed a LEED Planning Tool to help architects navigate the course, because obtaining LEED certification is a complex process. Designed as a working instrument, the planning tool ties specific strategies to specific products, and features sections for “potential points” and “earned points” based on the recommended products/principles for each LEED category. This allows users to estimate the amount of points that projects can earn and track their progress toward certification. Kawneer also has a dedicated Architectural Services Team that provides assistance with LEED projects and product application information.

Due to its LEED expertise and range of sustainable solutions, Kawneer was selected to provide architectural aluminum systems for the PCL Centennial Learning Center, Edmonton, Alberta. To mark its 100th anniversary, Canadian-based PCL created a building that would serve as the new training and development hub for its companies, embrace sustainable design and reduce environmental impact. Using LEED principles, PCL delivered a striking facility that consumes less energy, resulting in lower operating costs. The building design consisted of 75 percent glazed elements, including Kawneer’s multifunctional 2000 Skylight. In addition to providing daylighting, the skylight also played a large role in the concept of a “solar chimney.” Designed to increase energy efficiency, the “chimney” allows hot air to escape and cool air from the outside to enter the building. The PCL Centennial Learning Centre achieved LEED Gold certification, the first private sector building in Alberta to do so.

Steel curtain wall expands design options

By Chuck Knickerbocker, curtain wall manager for Technical Glass Products, Snoqualmie, Wash. Visit www.tgpamerica.com for more information.  

Photo by Timothy Hursley, Little Rock, Ark.
Project: Technical Glass Products Headquarters, Snoqualmie, Wash., office and manufacturing facility.

The players: Architect, Callison, Seattle; developer, Opus Northwest, Minnetonka, Minn.; glazing contractor: Architectural Wall Systems Inc. Seattle; steel curtain wall supplier, Technical Glass Products, Snoqualmie, Wash.

The glass and systems: 1-inch insulating glass with low-emissivity coating on the No. 2 surface in a TGP SteelBuilt Curtainwall Infinity system. 

Steel curtain wall installation

Steel curtain wall products install similar to traditional aluminum pressure plate systems. Shop fabricated components are shipped to the project site, erected and glazed in place. Captured or structural silicone glazing options are available.

With the advantage of larger glass sizes and the structural benefits steel offers, these systems can reduce field labor for installation compared to traditional curtain wall systems. For example, depending on design wind loads and spans, a 30-foot opening with 5-foot on-center mullions can be reduced from six modules to four, with 7-foot-6-inch mullion spacing, without increasing the depth or size of the members. This is a 33 percent reduction in the number of glass lites, which in turn reduces the number of frame components to be installed and can result in decreased field labor costs.

While architects have worked with traditional aluminum curtain wall assemblies for decades, many are unfamiliar with the advanced European-designed steel framing systems now available in North America. Modern steel curtain wall framing shares some similarities with typical aluminum systems, but they also have important differences, especially around performance. (See Page 32, Glass Magazine, November 2008.)

Steel products, such as Technical Glass Products' SteelBuilt Curtainwall Systems, provide greater design freedom, especially for daylighting. Nearly three times stiffer than aluminum, steel framing can support larger free spans of glass and allow narrower frame profiles, while meeting the same design criteria as traditional aluminum systems. For applications where oversized glass is required, steel curtain wall provides the ability to span the required distance without intermediate support.

Steel framing offers an additional advantage of more adaptability than aluminum systems, and support or attach internal or external sunshades, as well as custom-designed exterior cover caps in a variety of materials. Modular steel framing systems can be manufactured with back mullions of virtually any profile and material, rather than the bulky, square-shaped aluminum back mullions used in traditional curtain wall.

Many design professionals first learn about steel curtain wall systems from suppliers or manufacturers. After they have installed a product, they may get additional information from the manufacturer, or from the glazing subcontractor.

Architects' primary concern about steel systems is their corrosion resistance. Water is a big issue, and they want to know that the steel will not rust in a few years. Manufacturers have solved this problem by developing systems that isolate any water that may enter the glazing pockets from being in direct contact with the steel framing.

Another concern is the structural capacity and glazing options available with steel, and if the systems can be customized around curtain wall shapes, size of members, spans and anchoring conditions. Modern steel systems are adaptable to all of these needs.

Steel curtain wall is popular in Europe with a strong track record of successful installations. In the U.S., most steel framing projects to date have been for fire-rated wall systems. As more North American architects hear of the options for steel curtain wall, though, interest grows and glaziers should anticipate increased requests for the materials. 

Architects ask more from glaziers

By Blake Batkoff, national accounts and marketing manager, Petersen Aluminum Corp., Chicago. Visit www.pac-clad.com for more information.
The project: Heifer International, Little Rock, Ark., a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum project. 

The players: Architect, Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter, Little Rock; glass supplier, Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich.; glass fabricator, Wholesale Glass Distributors, Memphis; glazing contractor, Ace Glass Co., Little Rock; curtain wall system supplier, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga.; aluminum panel supplier, Petersen Aluminum, Chicago.

The aluminum: About 22,000 square feet of .050 aluminum Pac-Clad Silver Metallic 7/8-inch corrugated panels; 3,000 square feet of .032 aluminum Pac-Clad Silver Metallic ‘M’ panels.

With architects incorporating a wide variety of materials, most notably metal and composite aluminum, into the design of a building’s cladding system, general contractors are looking to the glazing contractor to shoulder an increasing scope of work. A glazier’s workload is no longer confined to installation and fabrication of the glass and may now include architectural wall panel assemblies, such as composite panels, metal plate panels, insulated panels and corrugated panels.

For dramatic entrance canopies, accent panels or wall applications, architects frequently use composite panels that offer flexibility. Featuring a .02-inch face and backskin bonded to a polyethylene or fire-retardant core, these panels can be custom fabricated using a precise rout-and-return method to meet the most demanding tolerances. Composite panels can be installed with caulk joints or by utilizing rain-screen, non-caulk method.

Metal plate panels are similar to composite panels, but instead use mill finish aluminum as the base material. The panels are fabricated using computer numerically controlled machinery, and then post-painted to provide a match to the building’s color scheme. These panels are generally used in wall applications and at entryways.

Spandrel panels may be specified for installation between glazing units and typically are insulated. Insulation is laminated to a metal skin such as mill finish, composite, stainless steel and copper, both front and back.

Featuring design flexibility, ease of installation and cost efficiency, corrugated panels in a variety of profiles are increasingly being specified as key architectural components. The panels are available in a wide range of gauges of aluminum and steel and in an array of finishes to match any building’s décor.

Glass contractors may also be called upon to handle column covers. Becoming more popular on many commercial and retail projects, column covers may be found at entryways, parking garages, beam wraps and in interior applications. The column covers offer superior design flexibility, as they can be fabricated from a variety of materials from mill finish aluminum, composite material, stainless steel and copper. The three typical types of column covers include caulk joint, reveal joint and flush joint.

As architectural design continues to evolve, successful glass contractors will be those that continue to provide expanded and innovative services.

Opportunities and challenges in custom curtain wall

By Nigel Townsley, director of engineering, Oldcastle Glass Engineered Products Canada, Oldcastle Glass, Santa Monica, Calif. Visit www.OldcastleGlass.com for more information.

Image by Foster + Partners, Zeidler Partnership
The project: EnCana Corp. “The Bow,” Calgary, Alberta, is set for a 2011 completion and will reach 810 feet, making it the tallest tower in western Canada.

The players:
Owner, EnCana, Alberta; signature architect, Foster and Partners, London; project architects, Zeidler Partnership, Calgary; general contractor, Ledcor Construction, Vancouver, British Columbia; glass and curtain wall supplier, Oldcastle Glass, Santa Monica, Calif.

The glass and systems: 540,000 square feet of curtain wall in 7,920 curtain wall frames. A custom curtain wall diagrid of aluminum panels that form a series of starbursts at every third floor.

Architects want custom curtain walls in office buildings, high-rise condominiums, government buildings and monumental iconic buildings in major metropolitan and emerging cities.

Curtain wall has become the key factor in building performance, as well as in the cost to operate a building. Architects want to lower heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs through environmental design, and lower electricity consumption through natural daylighting. Of course, modern curtain wall is continually pushing the limits of air, water and structural performance.

In addition to performance, custom curtain wall also satisfies architects' demand for aesthetics. Architects want new, unique visual designs and freedom of expression. Custom curtain wall allows for that design freedom.

In a custom curtain wall project, the process is increasingly adopting design build versus design, bid, build; and curtain wall companies are engaged in the design earlier in the project construction life cycle. Curtain wall companies need to be able to understand the key drivers for the owner and architect, and determine how the design can be tailored for them from a visual, structural installation and budget standpoint.

Custom curtain wall projects can present external schedule delays, problems with tolerances of adjacent construction, issues with site conditions such as surrounding trades and space on site, and difficulties with material procurement. To overcome these challenges, glass companies must:

  • Establish a timeline for every activity on the project; everyone within the company must work with the same dates 
  • Work out guaranteed sizes 
  • Ensure all adjacent trades are provided with final drawings to ensure they understand the glass and glazing requirements 
  • Review drawings of adjacent trades to identify inconsistencies 
  • Ensure supplier partners, internal and external, can meet deadlines and stay within budget.

Custom curtain wall projects require a heightened level of expertise and every party involved must have the requisite technical capabilities. The supply chain must strictly adhere to the schedule; delays are costly. 

Glass companies prepared to overcome the challenges associated with custom curtain wall will be able to capitalize on a growing architectural trend. 

Glass manufacturers step up to larger lite demands

By Christine Shaffer, marketing manager, Viracon, Owatonna, Minn. Visit www.viracon.com for more information.
The project: Manitoba Hydro's signature office building in Winnipeg, known as Manitoba Hydro Place.

The players: Design architect, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects; architect of record, Smith Carter Architects & Engineers Inc.; glass fabricator, Viracon, Owatonna, Minn.; glazing contractor, Ferguson-Neudorf Glass Inc.

The glass: Insulating, low-emissivity glass with VE-85 coating on Starphire; insulating, with low-E VE-85 coating on Starphire with custom silk-screen.

What do contract glaziers need to know when working with larger lite sizes?

From the initial quote to delivery there are a number of considerations that require review, including evaluating the insulating glass unit weight, system details, necessary sightline, or proper glass strength and safety. Once the IG becomes larger than the norm, more risks come to play with packaging, delivery and installation. All of these matters should be appraised prior to producing material for the project. Most of Viracon's “training” would come in the form of written analysis in the quote stage and then post-order communication to our customers.

As the trend toward floor-to-ceiling—or slab-to-slab—glass has become more prominent in building design, Viracon has had architects request increasingly larger glass sizes. Architects seek large, unobstructed views with superior energy performance and a balanced amount of visible light transmittance—all in big sizes.

Viracon has significantly upgraded its equipment across all fabrication processes to meet the demand for large-sized glass. 

Oversized glass presents special challenges as a complex makeup can get extremely heavy. Fabricated units that weigh nearly 2,000 pounds, the maximum weight limit, have been showing up in buildings. Typical glass configurations weigh less than 500 lbs.

Viracon has customized its coating equipment to cope with the larger sizes, and purchased new handling equipment for all stations at the plants. Handling glass this heavy presents additional safety challenges.

Architects designed the Manitoba Hydro Place project in Winnipeg, Manitoba, around Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requirements, but specific to large size glass, the emphasis was on light. The fully glazed building envelope ensures maximum exposure to natural daylight, which has significant impact on the company’s work culture and productivity. Energy performance also was a consideration in selecting large size glass. The structural and glazing systems emphasize lightness and transparency to maximize daylight for the reduction of artificial lighting systems.









LEED, green and advanced coatings

By Chris Dolan, director of the commercial glass program, Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich. Visit www.Guardian.com for more information. 

Photo by David Lena Photography, Santa Monica, Calif.
The project: New Burbank (Calif.) Community Services Building, certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The players: Leo A. Daly, Los Angeles; glass manufacturer, Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich.; glass fabricator, Oldcastle Glass, Santa Monica, Calif.; glazing contractor, Giroux Glass, Los Angeles.

The glass: Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68, clear. 

Green glazing in action

The Burbank (Calif.) Community Services Building puts high-performance glazing to the test. The LEED-certified building features 14,000-square feet of Guardian’s SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 clear, highlighted most prominently in the light-filled atrium. The building’s flood of natural daylighting minimizes the need for artificial lighting. 

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program has created momentum for energy-saving green building in North America and throughout the world. Projects in the Middle East and Asia have become LEED certified, and many projects are being built that technically meet LEED requirements but are not certified.

Even though LEED has been a huge success, most projects still don't have certification, and 50 percent of glass in commercial buildings does not have a coating at all. There is a huge opportunity for energy saving products.

Architects have specific demands when it comes to “green” glass products. The ideal product for one architect might not work for another. Guardian works closely with architects to understand their needs, and to educate them about the latest products and specifications. The company offers technical support to firms and has set up a broad architectural program.

It helps to have one-on-one contact with architects. There are 27,000 architecture firms in the United States with about 1,000 firms that account for 90 percent of the work. Architects move around from firm to firm. It is a constant effort for suppliers to stay in touch.

When it comes to architect education, our direct customers are our allies. We have a Select Fabricator network and offer operate proprietary tools online, and our Select Fabricators have access to those tools to ensure they have the most up-to-date and accurate information. Our fabricators are closer to the specific glass individual application for the project, so we work together to educate architects on how to best use glass.

In the glass industry, coatings will continue to get more sophisticated. Guardian has created coatings that are heat treatable and can be laminated, and is working to improve upon those coatings to create products that meet even higher demands for performance, light transmission, color requirements and solar demands.