kdevlin's blog

When James O'Callaghan, director, Eckersley O'Callaghan, presented the first design ideas to Steve Jobs for the Apple flagship store in SoHo, New York City, it featured all-glass stair treads paired with a metal rail system. Jobs responded, “I think you should make it all out of glass,” O’Callaghan recalled. And thus began Apple’s iconic and increasingly innovative structural glass stairs and storefronts. 

Attendees at the BEC Conference yesterday in Las Vegas were treated to a tour of the evolving innovations in glass at Apple, where designers and engineers continued to push the envelope of what is possible in glass design. 

First structural glass circular stair, at the Apple store in Osaka.

Two-story circular stair, in New York City. 

Refurbished Apple glass cube, with just 15 glass panels. 

Istanbul Apple store, made of just four massive glass panels. 

Photos by Eckersley O'Callaghan.

From the beginning, the idea was “a very simple structure,” O’Callaghan described to the group of about 400. At each step, and in each new store, “we began to strip away the levels of connection. … Each time, there is a small incremental change.” 

That first location in SoHo featured the all-glass stair rail and treads, with minimal hardware. A location designed soon after in Los Angeles includes a stair that can meet significant seismic loads. “The stair is hung rather than supported at the base, and it can accommodate lateral sway,” O’Callaghan said. 

Next came longer staircases (a 5-meter stair in Beijing), and circular staircases, like that in Osaka. “This required chemically tempered glass,” O’Callaghan recalled. From single-story circular staircases came two-story staircases (14th St. in New York).

In 2006, the company moved beyond stairs to develop a glass cube entrance to the 5th Ave. underground store in Manhattan. However, the dimensions of the cube—30 feet on each side—required 106 panels and 250 primary fittings, and thus more interruptions in the clarity of the space. 

So, the design team began investigating ways to get larger glass lites, requiring fewer connections. “We were looking for large format glazing applications where we [could] maximize transparency and minimize fittings,” O’Callaghan said. 

Working first with seele, which bought a 15-meter autoclave, O'Callaghan's designs began to feature much larger lites of glass. “However, the logistics associated with such large lites were quite challenging. There were no machines to lift the glass, or to ship the glass,” O’Callaghan said. Beijing North Glass also made large investments in equipment to produce the large lites for Apple, including developing a tempering machine to handle 12- to 13-meter curved glass for the glass drum at Apple IFC Shanghai

With large format glass now available, the company began exploring glass railings made of one lite of glass, like that used at the Hamburg, Germany Apple Store. And, in 2011, it refurbished the 5th Ave. glass cube with the large glass, totaling just 15 panels and 40 fittings. “There is a certain elegance when we start to strip down the connections,” O’Callaghan said. 

The newest developments in glass for Apple include glass walls that act as structural support for the roof structure. The company completed a store in Palo Alto, California, where glass columns support a steel roof. And, the new Apple store in Istanbul consists of just four massive panels of glass that are joined at the corner with silicone joints and topped with a carbon fiber roof. “It’s drilled down to the minimum. It’s almost not there. This is a successful conclusion regarding where we are trying to drive design,” O’Callaghan said. 

And of course, there are the large-scale architectural feats on display at the now under construction Apple headquarters

Looking ahead, O’Callaghan says even larger lites are coming, with 4 meters by 20 meters now possible. And, he sees great architectural possibilities with Corning’s Gorilla Glass, an ultra-thin, ultra-strong glass. “This is different than float glass. We are able to use a cold bending method to create new forms. It’s something that can be a flexible material on the skin and used to create more lightweight structures,” he said. 

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.


Login to post comments

The glass industry gathered in Milan, Italy, last week for Vitrum 2019, the international glass machinery trade show, held Oct. 1-4. Check out photos from the show. 


Login to post comments

Images from the IG forensic investigation session at the IGMA IG Fabricator WorkshopImages from the previous IG forensic investigation session at the 2018 IGMA IG Fabricator Workshop in Plano, Texas. Participate in the hands-on session at GlassBuild America 2019 in Atlanta. 

Katy Devlin

What do you do when an insulating glass unit fails on a building? What about when IGUs fail at the factory? In the test lab? Does your team know the steps to take to diagnose the source of failure, identify the cause and make necessary changes in production to reduce failures in future?

Insulating glass units are complex systems. IG failures happen and are a goldmine of information. The key to a fabricator’s long-term success is determining the cause of those failures to improve daily practices, increase production quality and reduce liability.

WHAT: Hands-On Workshop: Forensic Investigation of Insulating Glass Units
Presented by IGMA

WHERE: GlassBuild America
Booth: 3909

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 17, and Wednesday, Sept., 18 (continuous presentations both days)

REGISTER NOW (Space is limited)

This year at GlassBuild America, attendees can learn how to determine the causes of IG failures during the Hands-On Workshop: Forensic Investigation of Insulating Glass Units, from the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to inspect the IGUs and are provided with the tools to determine the failure mode with guidance from industry experts. Participants will learn techniques to provide a detailed IG analysis to include performing a visual inspection, dissecting the unit, writing the failure report and analyzing the failure.

The session is traditionally part of IGMA’s two-day IG Fabricator Workshop, which I had the pleasure of attending last year in Plano, Texas. During the forensic analysis section of the workshop, we worked in small groups to identify the type of unit and its various component parts. We performed detailed visual inspections, looking for everything from gaps in the sealant application to appearance of fog. We submerged the units in water to watch for air bubbles that might help diagnose the site of a failure. And eventually, we worked as a team to disassemble the entire unit. 

This type of hands-on, collaborative learning is critical to effective training of new employees and to furthering the industry knowledge of veteran workers. It offers a rare opportunity to learn from the foremost experts in the field of insulating glass—those with decades of experience identifying failures or potential fabrication issues. It provides every employee who attends—whether they work on the factory floor, in the office or the field—with the understanding and tools to understand the potential causes IG failures. This in turn can improve quality control from a single factory all the way to the company and industry.

I can’t recommend the session highly enough. 

Because of the hands-on nature of the GlassBuild America workshop, space is limited. Get registered today.

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

The future of the glass industry is smart—smarter glass for smarter buildings in smarter cities, according to presenters and organizers at the 2019 Glass Performance Days, June 25-28 in Tampere, Finland. “Smart cities, smart buildings and smart glazing are our future,” said Jorma Vitkala, chair of the GPD organizing committee, during the GPD Opening Ceremony. “Changes are happening faster than ever before. But we need to continue being the catalysts for ideas and innovation. … We must embrace new ideas, new technologies, new relationships. We must be ready to meet the needs of our customers and our customers’ customer.”

Many of GPD 2019’s seven simultaneous, all-day sessions—covering a variety of topics including smart technology, glass and sustainability, R&D, façade and market trends, and more—looked at the next-generation glass products that could be essential to bringing the industry to the next level.

Some takeaways:

  1. Performance. The market will continue to demand better performing products, and codes and standards will continue to require the same. “The global need for environmental energy and sustainability is reshaping the nature of glass,” said Arto Metsänen, CEO and president of Glaston. “Energy efficiency has always been a challenge. As a material, though, glass is very competitive in terms of CO2 reduction. It provides a unique opportunity for the sustainable development of the world.”
  2. Collaboration. Innovative industries require collaboration, said Teppo Rantanen, executive director of the City of Tampere. “Companies talk about new ideas because they know what they get back will be better,” he said. “How do you work together with other companies? How do you share?” 

    Developing next-generation products and processes, and achieving next-level performance goals, also requires this collaboration, added Metsänen. “We can only succeed if we work together,” he said. “No company or individual can do this alone.”
  3. Complexity. The adoption of digital design has changed what’s possible with the building façade, allowing complex shapes and curves that were never before possible. “We’re not building rectangles and squares,” said Stanley Yee, façade design and construction specialist for Dow. “We are seeing complex architecture, complex units, oversized glass, curves.” 
  4. Digital factory. Glass industry manufacturing has also seen advancements. Most new machines are networked. Companies can track products, and progress and performance of individual machines, the full factory floor, or even global factory locations. “We’re looking beyond Industry 4.0,” said AJ Piscitelli, application engineer and project manager, FeneTech Inc. “It’s the digital factory. It’s Industry 4.0, IoT, supply chain management.”
  5. New methods and materials. The GPD exhibit floor offered a sneak peek at product and production solutions to come (or in some cases, what’s already here). Innovations included transparent insulating glass spacers; next-generation coatings for performance, bird-friendly design, switchable capabilities and more; and advancements in the way products are made, including laser technology and additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.  

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

NYC skyline


Katy DevlinLast week, the glass industry witnessed some jarring headlines coming out of New York City: "NYC’s ‘Green New Deal’ to ban glass, steel skyscrapers"; "De Blasio vows to ban glass and steel skyscrapers in NYC"; "NYC mayor wants to ban new glass skyscrapers to cut emissions".

The news came out of an April 22 Earth Day press conference when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City’s Green New Deal. “We are going to introduce legislation to ban the glass and steel skyscrapers that have contributed so much to global warming. They have no place in our city or on our Earth anymore,” de Blasio said.

"The mayor’s anti-glass rhetoric, and the over-simplistic labeling of glass as a poor energy performer, is harmful to a glass industry that has already spent the last decade fighting the 'battle for the wall.'"

However, neither de Blasio’s opening remarks on the topic, nor the initial headlines, tell the full story. The mayor continued in his statement: “If a company wants to build a big skyscraper, they can use a lot of glass if they do all the other things needed to reduce the emissions,” he said.

“It means banning [that] all-glass high-rise construction until it meets the absolute highest energy efficiency standards,” said Dan Zarrilli, de Blasio’s chief climate policy advisor and the OneNYC director.

De Blasio’s proposal introduces the “the toughest laws of any state or city in the nation” in terms of performance requirements for buildings in an effort to cut emissions in New York City by 30 percent by the year 2030, Zarrilli said. Buildings are a key target of the plan, “because they are the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions … in this city. It’s not the cars, it’s the buildings,” he said.  

Mark Chambers, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, said high-performance glass products, along with other performance tradeoffs, would allow for glass buildings that meet the stringent requirements. “It doesn't mean that buildings can't use glass anymore,” he said. “A perfect example is the American Copper Building right behind us. … That building does use glass, but it also uses other materials and it uses high-performance glass to make sure that the building is actually work[ing] to the benefit of our emissions reductions.”

The plan also targets existing building. It puts $3 billion into retrofitting city government buildings and will demand performance improvements in private sector buildings as well. “We're implementing new mandatory building retrofit requirements, giving building owners just five years to cut their pollution or face major fines,” said Zarrilli.

So, did Mayor de Blasio announce a ban on glass and steel buildings in New York City? No.

However, the mayor’s anti-glass rhetoric, and the over-simplistic labeling of glass as a poor energy performer, is harmful to a glass industry that has already spent the last decade fighting the “battle for the wall.”

“De Blasio’s blunt rhetoric—and the headlines—are definitely a threat to highly glazed buildings,” says Tom Culp, NGA energy code consultant and owner of Birch Point Consulting.

De Blasio’s concerns should be focused on “highly glazed buildings with poor windows” along with the value engineering that eliminate high-performance façade products from a project to save money, Culp says.

“A highly glazed building with high-performance fenestration is a good thing,” Culp says. “The building can still show energy equivalence and offer other significant benefits that have been demonstrated in many studies such as increased occupant health, increased productivity, increased student learning in school settings, increased health recovery and decreased health costs in hospital settings and increased real estate values. Daylighting and views are critical to high-performance green buildings, and can help achieve sustainability and climate goals with good high-performance fenestration.”

The glass industry must fight back against de Blasio’s rhetoric before political leaders in other jurisdictions make similar assumptions. And the industry must continue to demonstrate how glass is essential to meeting building performance goals and to creating healthy spaces for occupants. 

The industry should also recognize the opportunities in NYC’s Green New Deal—opportunities to bring highest performing glass and glazing solutions into the built environment. This includes new construction, but also the city’s vast existing building stock (including 1 million buildings in Manhattan alone). Imagine the opportunities for glazing retrofits.

Demands for high-performance buildings are not going away. And glass is a critical part of the solution. How can we better tell our story? 

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.

Katy DevlinGrowing up, my dad was the king of do-it-yourself fixes. He used to say that, provided with enough duct tape and a hanger, he could create a quick, temporary repair for almost anything that went amiss around the house. Those handy DIY fixes, however, are not for the glass plant.

Last week at the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Winter Conference in Austin, Texas, glass industry safety guru Mike Burk offered strong words of warning about DIY fixes on the factory floor. Burk is the North American technical representative for Sparklike Oy and has been a leader of the IGMA Glass Safety Awareness Council for many years.

Examples of dangerous work-arounds at glass plants.

While DIY fixes are common and often successful at home, they present a major risk to safety in a factory environment, Burk says. Plant managers and maintenance leaders should keep a close watch for DIY fixers in their facilities.

Burk has a term for people who attempt to implement DIY fixes: “jigglers.” (The term references jiggling the handle to stop a toilet from running.) “You have to watch for the ‘jigglers’ in your plant.” he says. In the glass plant, those “jigglers” take shortcuts or workarounds in an effort to make machinery run better or faster, or in an attempt to fix a problem with a piece of equipment, Burk says. “They think they know more about the machine than the maintenance guy,” Burk says.

In glass plants over the years, Burk has identified a number of common shortcuts and workarounds instituted by “jigglers.” “I’ve seen start switches held in with wire or a paper clip, bypasses to the safety switch. Sticks and pokers and poles used to get product moving along the line,” he says.

Fabricators must train their maintenance personnel to be “jiggler catchers,” Burk says. “Your maintenance guys can spot these [workarounds]. … If they see duct tape somewhere on a machine, something is wrong.”

For more information, read an article that Burk wrote for Glass Magazine outlining shortcuts and workarounds to avoid.


Login to post comments

Katy DevlinWhat’s driving future glass trends? Transparency, performance and technology, according to Lisa Rammig, senior associate for Eckersley O’Callaghan. Rammig spoke Jan. 23 during the 2019 National Glass Association Annual Conference in Naples, Florida. To meet next-generation demands, players from across the industry—from universities to façade engineering firms to glass fabricators, and more—are pushing the envelope of what’s possible with glass, developing everything from ultra-thin glasses to transparent sealants, and 3D-printed glass to oversized and curved lites, says Rammig.

The Eckersley O’Callaghan team has been instrumental in redefining the capabilities of glass. The firm, led by James O’Callaghan, has been a key player in the development of the all-glass facades and staircases found in Apple stores around the world.

“Our work with Apple amounts to the idea of creating transparent structures. … The latest generation [of Apple projects] achieves a new generation of transparency,” Rammig says. In several of the new Apple locations, the roof rests on just the glass, or on the glass and minimal column supports. “The glass completely disappears,” she says.

This design concept comes to life at the circular all-glass Steve Jobs Theater at the Apple campus in Cupertino, California. “There are 44 glass panels forming a circle of 180 feet and a carbon fiber roof. The cantilevering roof is purely held by the glass,” Rammig says. “It appears that there is no connection between the roof and the floor. But, between every joint, there is a conduit, either for electricity or for water for the sprinklers.”

Key to the firm’s exploration of the possibilities of glass has been its work in non-commercial, research-based environments, including its participation in the glass technology live innovative exhibition at glasstec, held every other year in Düsseldorf, Germany. The exhibition, organized by four European universities, provides a venue for student designers, university teams, design firms and industry companies to explore next-generation glass solutions.

“You’ll see fabricators showing off new developments that might not be market ready. You’ll see a lot of student work. There will be fabricators and researchers and students working together,” Rammig says. “Sometimes the work is not always finished—it’s just ideas. At a later point, those ideas might be developed into products. It shows what might be possible in the future.”

For the 2018 glass technology live expo, Rammig and the Eckersley O’Callaghan team developed an all-glass seesaw made of 11 layers of 2-foot-wide glass, laminated together and pivoting on a transparent acrylic rod. The seesaw was a follow-up to the team’s stand-out all-glass slide, developed with glass fabricator Cricursa, which was a centerpiece of the 2016 glass technology live exhibition.  

Rammig noted other impressive glass displays from the 2018 glass technology live—thin glass, large curved glass installations, switchable displays, multi-layered laminates, 3D-printed glasses and more. The installations demonstrate what the industry can do today and where it's headed.

“Glass is becoming a medium that doesn’t just form the envelope or shelter,” Rammig says. The material can be a building support structure, a medium for communication and technological interaction, or an integrated smart system for whole-building performance. “It is amazing to work with this material,” she says. 

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

Many economists are pointing to a potential slowdown in the U.S. economy after nearly a decade of sustained growth. “We see some headwinds coming,” said economist Connor Lokar during his forecast presentation at the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild America in September. So, how can glass companies prepare for a potential downturn?

To begin to answer this question, I hopped on the phone with Glass Magazine’s financial columnist, Marco Terry. Terry, who is managing director of Commercial Capital LLC, emphasizes that, whether or not the economy actually enters a recession in the near future, “it’s always a good time to prepare.” Some specific tips:

1. Work on collections

“Assume that if recession comes, the customers paying you marginally—those on the edge of being OK to bad—are going to slide towards bad. Now is the time to start addressing that. For an owner not already checking the credit of commercial clients, now is a good time to start."

2. Optimize costs

“Now is a good time to see if there are areas where your company is leaking money. Now is good time to plug those leaks. If there are any areas that can be improved, now is the time to do it. These are the things that companies are going to end up doing when recession hits. If you do them now, you’ll be ready.”

3. Build a cash reserve

“This one is important. How big should the reserve be? That is a question of personal preference. It can depend on how your cashflow moves through the business. At minimum, 3 months; 6 months is better. However, there is always a tradeoff between hoarding cash and growing business. If you have cash sitting in a bank account, it’s not out there paying new employees, buying new machinery.”

4. Consider an emergency line of credit

“This is something I am hesitant to recommend. But the right time to get a line of credit is when you don’t need it. … There is nothing wrong with having line of credit that you don’t touch. It may cost some money to get it and maintain it, but boy will it be useful if things go south. … The major caveat is that it is for emergencies only. Getting into debt right before recession hits is a recipe for disaster.”

5. Cut unprofitable services and products

“Sometimes owners don’t notice or care about services that are draining money. If a company is doing reasonably well, they don’t focus attention on them. But, they become a cash drain when real products producing profits start slowing down. … The same goes for cutting problem clients. This is an important one. We’re starting to approach a time for firing bad clients. Moving them into a pay up front model would be a good idea.”

6. Expand sales and look for new markets.

“The right time to implement those [growth] strategies is now. When recession hits, you will be one of many companies looking to new markets.”

Terry will cover these tips more in-depth in the March issue of Glass Magazine.

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

Last week, I took part in the first of two back-to-back sessions of the interactive IG Fabricators Workshop, hosted by the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance and held at Intertek in Plano, Texas. The workshop invites attendees from all over the industry to get a thorough hands-on education in the complete insulating glass fabrication, testing and forensic investigation process.

I attended last week’s workshop along with about 30 other industry representatives. Many came from glass or window fabricators, some from component or equipment suppliers. Some tout decades of experience, others just a few weeks. But no matter the experience level, the multi-part three-day event provided opportunities for all attendees to come away with everything from important safety reminders to critical quality control methods.

“Looking ahead, we will recommend that we send our new people to this along with some of our seasoned guys. It’s important to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing; to correct bad habits,” said one attendee from an entry door manufacturer.

The workshop began with two classroom sessions: a glass safety presentation from Mike Burk, chair of the IGMA Glass Safety Awareness Council and North American technical representative for Sparklike, and a complete breakdown of IGU design and components parts from Jeff Haberer, technical services, Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions. The remainder of the sessions took place in the test laboratory space, where workshop leaders demonstrated IGU test methods, such as frost point testing and volatile fog testing; taught quality control checks for desiccant, gas fill and sealants; identified spacer types and spacer issues to watch out for; and presented common issues with glass cutting and glass washing.

View complete photo and video coverage from the workshop.

At top, a workshop group performs a visual inspection on an insulating glass unit. Lower left, Randi Ernst, CEO of FDR Design, helps an attendee measure gas fill of an insulating glass unit. Lower right, a group leader disassembles a failed insulating glass unit to determine the cause of seal failure. 

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

The global glass industry gathered in Düsseldorf, Germany, last week for the 25th glasstec, the International Trade Fair for Glass Production, Processing and Products. The event stretched over nine large halls at the Messe Düsseldorf fair grounds, hosting 1,280 exhibitors and 42,000 visitors.

Glass Magazine was on site for the four-day trade fair, which highlighted the leading trends and innovations in glass. Automation took center stage, with machinery and equipment suppliers demonstrating the next level of technologies for glass companies, including robots and a growing range of virtual reality and augmented reality possibilities. In terms of glass product solutions, companies showed the multi-functional possibilities of glass and systems. Suppliers continue to push the envelope with products that offer performance, aesthetics, flexibility and more.

Check out highlights from the show in the videos and photo galleries below. For additional coverage, check out the @GlassMag and @glassnation Twitter feeds, with coverage from the glasstec floor.


Photo gallery

Katy Devlin is editor in chief of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org. Follow Glass Magazine on Twitter.


Login to post comments

Page 1 of 14
 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 Next > | Last >>