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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

With this being my last “scheduled” blog of the year, it’s a great opportunity to look back at 2014 and review our world. The big take away for me is that this is the year the industry came back. While not everyone is swamped, I would say most are experiencing their best performances in a quite a while. That is truly a relief, as I know there were some people riding this storm out wondering if it would ever come to an end. I sincerely believe the positive momentum will continue into 2015.

2014 was the year that most trade shows came roaring back. GlassBuild America was very strong as were several other trade conferences. It was good to see the momentum and numbers returning, as those of us who always supported knew that these were “must attend” events no matter what. Participating in these events will be even more crucial in 2015, because we have a glass and transportation situation on our hands, so knowing the answers that only a show or a conference can provide will be extremely important.

Also, there are a couple of other highlights from this year I want to quickly touch on. We had the always-incredible Dr. Tom Culp leading the industry to a victory in the code arena. And our industry got a major boost with Nicole Harris taking the reins at the National Glass Association; her effect will surely be felt in 2015 and beyond. It's with people like that on our side that truly keeps me optimistic.

As for the year itself, I think the most surprising story, and most under reported, is pretty recent: the crazy drop in oil prices, sending gasoline prices in the United States to levels that I don’t believe anyone ever thought would happen again. While I am stunned seeing gas prices in the mid- to low-$2.00 range in some places, I can’t help but think this is temporary. But, regardless, that is a pretty major hole busted in the oil bubble that looked impenetrable forever.

Overall, I am feeling bullish about 2015. Yes there’s the glass and transport issues I have been nagging everyone on, but I think the smart end of this industry will make it work, and in the end I see things going well in the next year. Bring it on!


  • Congrats to my old friend Kirk Johnson who has taken on a new role as vice president of business development at Glasswerks. He will do a great job with them without a doubt.
  • Pretty interesting in depth story on the energy efficiency adventures at the Freedom Tower. It was supposed to be the “greenest” building in the United States. It's not happening... Nothing to do with the glass, but actually the fuel cells and the effect from Super Storm Sandy. Great inside story to read.
  • My ad of the month in Glass Magazine goes to the gang from Safti First. I absolutely loved the two-page holiday spread and seeing the faces to go with all of the names. And fun for me to see some faces I had not seen in years. Good to see old friends Tom Olson and Joe Marini in there, among others. This was an excellent layout and execution--overall really well done.
  • OK, so that’s all for me for 2014. So, please allow me to wish all of you a happy holiday season and a healthy and profitable new year! Thank you for allowing me into your world each and every week; I truly appreciate it! See you in 2015!

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

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, December 9, 2014

Last week I read an article featured in Architectural Record entitled "Is the Shopping Mall Dying or Just Evolving?" by Margaret Rock for the Deseret News. According to the article, not a single new, fully enclosed mall has opened in the United States since 2006. And from 2006 until 2013, e-commerce doubled.

Even before finding my way into construction industry reporting, I knew the heyday of the traditional shopping mall died soon after permed hair and penny loafers. But now, what's more distressing than seeing closed brick-and-mortars mar the landscape with weedy parking lots and "No Trespassing" signs is knowing that the fewer newly built stores there are, the fewer the jobs for the construction industry.

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were tallied, the National Retail Federation forecast 2014 holiday sales to increase a healthy 4.1 percent, higher than last year's actual 3.1 percent seasonal increase. And while that's good for retailers and the economy, "the suburban mall of yesteryear is fading into digital consumerism, impacting more than just the way we shop," Rock says. These impacts include tax revenue decline and loss of jobs, for example.

We already know the bad news about malls. I remember watching it happen. Stores like Montgomery Ward and Circuit City shuttered shops across the country. Then toy stores and book stores. After some time, it seemed malls were used more as indoor walking tracks than for retail therapy. But what interested me about the article, and others as I did more research, was the idea of repurposing.

"By creating higher density and more diverse spaces that are easily accessible, provide a natural/outdoorsy element and are pedestrian-friendly, communities are developing dead and dying malls," says Rock, of the efforts to repurpose these spaces.

It seems that malls aren't the only segment going down the repurposing path. Downtown districts have been seeing an influx of young professionals, part of an urban revival in America. But, like malls, a revival in a changed consumer landscape means what's working now looks nothing like the glory days, according to Joel Kotkin, executive editor of

What’s emerging in cities is a very different conceptualization of downtown, as a residential hub. Massive construction of new offices may not be happening, but the conversion of offices to residential buildings is. Kotkin points to repurposing in downtown Chicago, where developers are adapting older office towers, malls, as well as hotels for apartments.

And improving malls as a potential community asset, that revives tax collection and increases construction jobs, involves attracting mixed uses like residential, medical, warehouse and office space, or creating an environmentally friendly use. Many of the transformation plans for malls across the country include mixed-use plans that aim to integrate the best of e-commerce, traditional retail and a sense of community.

Both my nostalgic and practical sides like this concept. Is revitalization really in the cards for brick-and-mortar, and can the glass industry help itself by getting on board? I'll let you know when I start seeing glass installs at the old Waldenbooks in my neighborhood.

Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at

Monday, December 8, 2014

Last week, I noted the handful of people who were considered for the 2014 Industry MVP award, but did not come away with the title. The time has now come to recognize the winner, and like some other mainstream publications have done in the past, I went a little non-traditional with the choice this year. Instead of picking a person, I picked a company. I looked at everything this company did this past year—its continued support of the industry and its growth—and it was a slam-dunk. Because it’s a company known for its team effort, I couldn’t just pick one person out. So I decided to recognize the whole lot (though I will mention one individual below).  

The 2014 winner of the “From the Fabricator Industry MVP” is ... C.R. Laurence Co.. From an industry standpoint, CRL is always there at every show and event, always supporting, even though, in many cases, they probably don’t have to. But I believe, and have been told, they do it because it’s the right thing to do for the industry. I sincerely hope it continues. From a product standpoint, CRL released more excellent innovations this year including a unitized curtain wall and window system unveiled at AIA that has game-changing potential. Plus, their software releases are huge as well. And yes, when it comes to people, CRL delivers there, too. So many make a difference, case in point a guy like Brad Thurman, who is as impressive as they come. I've seen Brad in action and he represents his company and this industry with absolute class. And he’s just one of many there that do a great job, led by excellent ownership and management. So, there you have it, a little different than the typical, but in my opinion, a company that deserves the props.


  • The new Glass Magazine is fantastic and one column is a must read. Please check out Katy Devlin’s piece on the transportation issues facing our industry. It is worth your time.
  • I know I am harping on the transportation issue and on the glass capacity issue (and I am told other writers are taking the opposite of my insight on a few of these items). But I continue to talk with people every day—people who are in the trenches—and these issues are real. I guess you can choose which magazine or writer to believe, but when it comes to the best interests of this industry, I feel like I have your backs. And, what’s the worst thing that can get ultra organized?
  • Well just one more blog scheduled for 2014. Will the big deal I have been talking about for the last few weeks happen? Things got very quiet last week. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm, or maybe we have a “runaway bride” and the deal was iced. We shall see. If/when the deal does happen, I’ll blog about it.
  • Last week, I attended a semi-interesting webinar on green building. For the most part the confidence of continued green building growth is still very strong. A few tidbits I found interesting: China’s 3 Star energy program passed LEED to become the second most popular energy related standard in the world. (EnergyStar in the United States is No. 1); plus, did you know that Singapore offers a rebate for retrofitting buildings to become energy efficient? (an incentive here surely would be nice); finally, the analysts on the webinar felt that the move to green growth was now more about financial advantages than environmental.
  • Last this week, for the first time in my life I hurt my back. And I can tell you I have no idea how those of you with chronic back problems do it. You all are my heroes. My goodness this is brutal, and I hope temporary, as I have little to no pain tolerance…

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

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, December 1, 2014

It’s time for our annual look at who the most valuable player is in the glass and glazing industry for 2014. There are quite a few great candidates but there is only one winner. I have selected the winner and that announcement comes next week, but I did want to run through the other candidates in contention. I do this mostly because I believe in shining the spotlight on those extremely deserving people. So here goes, the runners up for the “2014 From the Fabricator Glass and Glazing MVP.”

  • John Wheaton, Wheaton and Sprague: Whether you do work with him, follow him on Twitter or hear him speak, you've surely noticed John's incredible passion and care. He shows great interest in the industry and its future. This is a guy who is always promoting awesome projects and work in the field, even if he didn’t have anything to do with it--unselfish and classy to the core.
  • Rick Wright, Oldcastle BE: Similar to John Wheaton, Rick shows passion for the industry. He can sometimes be on the other side of popular opinion on issues, but always has a reason and solid logic. Rick cares for how we (the industry) are presented in public and is extremely active in the trade organization world.
  • Tom O’Malley: Tom’s on this list because he went out on his own this year, seemingly 10 minutes after the recession lifted, and built a business, Clover Architectural Products. So basically this is a guy who could’ve done anything, anywhere, yet stuck his neck out big time. Folks, that’s serious confidence in our industry (and himself). Plus he’s always on the edge of innovation and bringing new and positive items to our world.
  • Bernard Lax, Pulp Studio: When I think of Bernard, I think of this famous quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Basically while Bernard is not front and center at trade meetings, when he does express his thoughts they carry a ton of weight. He is not afraid to speak his mind, especially when it comes to health of the industry and the safety of our stakeholders. I probably get to talk to him once or twice a year, but those conversations always have meaning and value. Plus he has an insanely creative mind, which is also a plus.

Now of course there are many others that would be up for this that I have noted in previous editions and awards like Julie Schimmelpennigh, Valerie Block, Chris Dolan, Kris Vockler and so on, but I wanted this list to be of people I had not nominated and noted in depth before. The winner comes next week!


  • For those of you who only read my blog when it's reposted on and published in e-glass weekly, I did post last week on my original site, so if you want more insight on the latest deal talks, green stats and some cool links, please check it out.
  • So which states had the biggest year-over-year gains (October) in construction employment? The winner may surprise you as it did me. The top 5…

5. Utah
4. Illinois
3. California
2. Texas
1. Florida

Yes, the Sunshine State led the way and I do find that surprising for sure. Could be a signal that the slow-to-recover market there is starting to perk up.

  • Last this week, it's December which will seemingly go very quickly, and while that’s good from a personal standpoint, from a business view these last two months are tough ones. After the 18 work day November, the holiday season may not have as much cheer with such little time to get work done!

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

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, December 1, 2014

For the fifth consecutive year, Glass Magazine will present the Top Glass Fabricators in its January/February 2015 issue. The Top Glass Fabricators Special Report offers a comprehensive view of the glass fabrication market in the United States and Canada. In addition to the list of Top Glass Fabricators—based on annual sales volume—the report includes market statistics related to sales volume, product demand and acquisition plans.

For the very first time, the 2015 report will also include a handful of projects featuring the Feats of Fabrication that made them possible.

Glass fabricators include those companies that have stand-alone fabrication plants in the United States or Canada that service our industry. The list does not include float glass manufacturers that also have fabrication capabilities at their locations. It also does not cover fabricators of strictly specialty glass, such as fire-rated.

We want to feature the glass industry's achievements. In order for us to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, we rely on direct submissions from the glass fabrication industry. If your company should be included in the Top Glass Fabricators report, please complete the Top Glass Fabricators survey by Friday, Dec. 5. And feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.

Stough is managing editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at

Monday, November 17, 2014

A few months back, I came across a list of seven architectural blunders that covered design missteps from the “worrying to the downright absurd.” Shortly after, I saw an infographic titled “Failure by Design.” Reading two pieces that highlighted wayward designs so close together got me thinking: Shouldn’t we focus on learning from past mistakes and designing better buildings, instead of fixating on the errors themselves?

From a glass and framing perspective, experience has taught me the answer is yes. History has helped inform and instruct us to better use glass in building design, from the type of products the industry now offers to how we install them.

Consider how much we’ve learned from increasing the amount of glazing in the building envelope. Buildings with poor thermal performance led to low-emissivity glass, which evolved into spectrally selective low-E glass. Now, hyper-insulating, electrochromic and thermochromic glazing options are entering the field to further improve the energy-efficiency of buildings. Design professionals using these advanced products can better optimize curtain walls and façades.

Glass-enclosed buildings have also brought entirely new problems to light, such as how to prevent bird strikes and effectively communicate user control for operable windows. Without buildings that called into question these limitations, designs would not be able account for performance or occupant comfort in the way they do today.

On the code side, consider the progression of fire-rated glazing products. To meet supporting design goals, it’s become increasingly common to see the hardworking material supplement daylighting, match non-fire-rated glazing systems, provide building compartmentation and act as a focal point—all in one application. As a result of the products’ multifunctionality, the glazing industry has been able to make architects’ and general contractors’ jobs easier.

For each of the advancements above, one or two buildings served as a catalyst for change. While it’s easy to dissect the criticism they’ve received, what’s more important is that all building and design sectors, including glass and framing, have greatly benefited from the chance to evaluate what we can do better.

So, as 2015 fast approaches, let’s use history to move us closer to better glass and framing solutions. Time and experience are excellent teachers. They generate a natural increase in sophistication in buildings over time that ultimately shape the future of glazing. What have they taught you about glass and framing?

Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), 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 (past) chairs the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). Contact him 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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The acquisition part of the glass industry has been pretty quiet in the last few years. While some smaller deals have taken place, the mega deals have not. But I can tell you that if the hot rumors blowing up my phone and e-mail are true, there is one such mega deal coming soon. If this deal happens, it will change the landscape of the industry again. Back in my past life I could throw the names out there (like I did when I broke the EFCO-Pella and Oldcastle-Vistawall deals), but things are different these days. People are more careful (me included), and companies like to float things to throw me off the scent (yes, I have been told as much). So, I’ll just leave it at the teaser above. In any case, I’m grabbing the popcorn and sitting back waiting to see if/when this one happens. It should be very interesting.


  • Guardian announced the closing of its Floreffe, Pennsylvania plant, which will be the third domestic float plant to go off line in the last year now. Add that to the many (nine at least) gone since 2006. In some circles word is this whole tightening of glass supply may be made up. All I am saying is it's now down to pure math and logic. We are facing A LOT less capacity matched to better and improving business conditions. As a consumer of glass, you have two choices: look for a conspiracy and start arguments, or plan to be proactive and be on top of your game with active communications and prepared logistics. Your choice, but math and logic are on my side on this one. And if the tightening does not turn out to be serious, guess what? Your business actually got better because you had to become even more efficient than before. No downside at all to that.
  • There is one other major potential tightening of supply in the world right now that could be a concern. A potential shortage of chocolate. Even a product like this suffers from many supply chain issues, too. Glad I am back on the diet again because when I get off, M&M’s may be $10 per bag.
  • I have to ask my readers in California for some insight into what I am hearing is a massive mess with Title 24. Evidently, municipalities are developing their own codes, which are confusing and beyond the current written code in place. This “wild wild west” mentality is throwing the various code inspectors into a bit of a flux and thus delaying code decisions and actual occupancy of buildings. I’d love some input on what is happening there and if it’s as crazy as it sounds. Or is it just the good ole California way of doing business? At the end of the day though, it’s already tough enough to do business when you are dealing with codes and ratings as it is, but a moving goal post is surely not fun.
  • Speaking of energy, this time in Washington, D.C., it will be interesting to see if the change in the make up of the Senate will help the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill get off the ground. There are some positives in that bill that would be good for our industry for sure.
  • Coming soon will be my list of potential Industry MVPs. Last year’s winner was Tracy Rogers of Quanex. Who will take home the prize in 2014?

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

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, November 11, 2014

Last year, I made the mistake of asking my seven-year-old nephew to think about the tall buildings in a big city as a visual for architectural glass (so he could understand what “my” magazine is about). As a lifetime resident of northern Virginia, his nearest big city is Washington, D.C.

“You mean like the Washington Monument?” he said.
“Well, no, like a skyscraper with lots of windows.”
“What’s a skyscraper?”

When thinking of the nation’s capital, he pictured brick buildings and stone monuments. But the idea of heavy glass use was difficult to imagine in his big city experience.

I was reminded of this conversation when visiting my sister again recently. We planned an afternoon in the city, and because I am unwittingly becoming a “glass geek” I asked if we could visit the newly opened and glass-centric American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.
The memorial honors disabled veterans and their families, in part using three walls of oversize glass panels showcasing etched images and quotes. At five layers thick, these laminated panels are an impressive feat of glass fabrication.

As my nephew noted the layers of glass in each panel—and that they had been “glued” together to make thicker panels—I told him that this is the type of glass Glass Magazine is all about.

“Cool,” he said, continuing to look at the pictures and run his fingers along the etched indentations in the glass.

And it is cool. Simply what can be done with glass, how it can enclose, showcase, wayfind and communicate, depending on how it’s applied, is cool. And it’s really cool when glass is the material of choice to honor our service men and women. I’d say it was a great choice. My nephew approved, too.

Read more about the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The first major 2015 forecast was released last week and it was chock full of positive news. According to the Dodge Data & Analytics report, commercial building will be up 15 percent next year. In addition, the forecast predicted some nice gains for the institutional and public works segments. The public works business has been stuck in a bad place for a while, so gains there are not only good for our industry, but for overall life as well. The only hesitations now are pretty simple: Will this report be accurate? (as we all know these projections in the past haven’t exactly been picture perfect.) And, if it is correct, will there be glass available, and drivers available to deliver said glass, to meet these additional needs?


  • Despite the optimism above, there were mixed messages from the various monthly reports. The ABI was strong and has bounced back from a soft middle of the year, but the Dodge Momentum Index has not been stellar recently. However, it is in the positive territory, just not as solid as it was earlier in the year. Spending on nonresidential construction also dipped, which could be a red flag as well. 
  • A few of you out there may have heard me tell the story on how I desperately wanted to be selected for jury duty a few years ago and was passed over, making me the only person at the courthouse that day mad at being sent home at 11 a.m.  Well there’s a jury trial coming up that's so massive, so major, and quite frankly so unreal, that even I want anything to do with it right now. Although I actually find the subject to be fascinating because it involves our industry in a way. What I am talking about is the breach of contract trial regarding the Harmon Hotel at CityCenter in Las Vegas. The trial is expected to last a whole year, with more than three million pieces of evidence and 35 lawyers. The trial actually involves 12 separate cases wrapped into one. Now if I were retired, I would LOVE to be on this jury. Heck I have felt for years now that an oral history/book on the CityCenter project would be riveting, so doing this trial would be the icing on the cake. But it's not meant to be, and given the numbers of the folks brought in, my odds would’ve been long anyway. Over four hundred prospective jurors from an initial pool of 6000 will be whittled to 8 jurors and 12 alternates when all is said and done. This surely will be one to watch.
  • I was delayed in giving my Glass Magazine “best ad of the month” award. So in the awesome October issue, some previous winners continue to stand out (Kawneer, Cardinal, Quanex), but the nod this time goes to PPG for not only their clean and catchy back cover ad, BUT the companion specialty website to go with it. PPG has been very active creating specialty websites for specific products and promotions, and they did one as well with this ad. It’s a sharp and forward thinking maneuver. Well done and major props to Pat Kenny, Rob Struble and everyone there who had a hand in this.
  • Last this week, big time congratulations to my friend Jim Ventre on his promotion at Gardner Glass Products. Jim is now vice president of Flat Glass Sales at Gardner and that basically means he’s now big time… That also means he’ll probably never talk with me again! Seriously though, Jim is one of the industry's nicest guys, and it’s great to see him rewarded for his talent/efforts.

Read on for video and links 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

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.

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