Monday, December 3, 2018

With the end of the year approaching, my final blog of 2018 is a collection of random thoughts and experiences. Hopefully some will resonate with you.

Let’s discuss terms.

I love the technical terms we use in our industry. “Chicken head” may be the best. Most of us know that term to define the upturned stack-joint leg on an expansion horizontal mullion. In profile, it looks like a “chicken head” when some types of gaskets are applied over top. I first heard the term in 1989, and it has been used since. Can’t we find a better naming convention?

Yes, Mr. Owner, you are buying a high-performance curtain wall with a chicken-head in it. Don’t ask questions. Just smile and nod. “Single leg stack and double leg stack” refer to the type of stack joint typology. One or both can be “chicken heads.” Your stack joint will have one leg or two. Depends on which design-camp you’re in. Both options work just fine. Yes, Mr. Owner, you’re getting a single leg stack that looks like a chicken head. You’ll be okay.

There are many more interesting terms we use: jumbo glass, bellows gasket, bulb gasket; sponge gasket (I have a good story about that one I’ll share another time), V-groove, nub, hook anchor, condensation trough, weep tubes, baffles, peening and more. I’d love to hear your favorite terms in the comment section below.

Let’s move on to the building code.

“Yeah, John, but you guys are designing and engineering to CODE. You are being conservative.” Um, let’s remember that the building code is defined as the “Minimum Requirements” for buildings. Thankfully, we have standards, since most things are “sticky downward” if not defined and benchmarked prescriptively. Being “conservative” or perhaps “wise” in some instances would be designing and engineering to MORE than the codified standard, such as with Factory Mutual specifications.

I am not advocating for conservatism, I am just making the point not to misrepresent the standard. So many of us see the code as the maximum, but it is not. We can design for more egress, better redundancy, better light, ventilation, daylighting, air and water infiltration resistance, and other attributes if owners want a better building product. As design-professionals, we are working and starting with the standard and needing to meet certain requirements. How we interpret and apply our craft within those standards is where we provide value to clients. More on that in a future post.

Next up, U-values and thermal analysis.

We have gotten this comment recently on two different jobs, one from a general contractor and one from a curtain wall consultant (perish at the thought): “Don’t give me standard NFRC boundary conditions. We need the U-values to be calculated based on the local conditions, not the standard.” That’s not right. U-values are based on the standard NFRC boundary conditions. In this way, they are all comparable to the same standard. Dew points can be run for the specific local boundary conditions. This will give insight into condensation issues and whether or not moisture will form on various surfaces. 

Thanks for all that you, the readers, pour into this industry. Thanks to Glass Magazine for this platform and for your advocacy. Thanks to AAMA and NGA technical committee members for your efforts and investments. Thanks to all of you for working together to make the built-world a better place. I count it a privilege to be a part of this meaningful and purposeful work. Make it a wonderful holiday, and I look forward to future connectivity and collaboration.

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1.

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 3, 2018

2018 is quickly coming to a close. We’ve now reached December and the end of the year is clearly in sight. I have been asked quite a bit recently if there will be any major deals before the year ends. Typically, year-end is a target date for deals. In the past, we’ve had a few big ones hit in mid- to late-December. This year, I think we may have a couple, but based on what I am hearing, it will be on the smaller side. Although, you never know. So, while this month is one of holiday and celebration, it may also produce some interesting news. Stay tuned!


  • I’m going to be a pain with reminders, but I only do it because it’s worthy. First one is Annual Conference, coming In January. Last week, NGA announced that Lisa Rammig of Eckersley O’Callghan & Partners will be the featured presenter. Folks, it is worth coming to this event just for that. I briefly met Lisa at glasstec, and she’s incredibly intelligent and has awesome insight into the architectural trends and drivers in our world. Seriously, a must see. Add this into the other subjects slated to be discussed like AB262, IBC, ASHRAE, and full technical meetings and you really can gain a ton of intel just being there. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, otherwise please register today.

  • Major Thirsty Thursday alert on a crucial subject: school security. Glass plays a big role in school security, and this webinar offers a very true and in-depth background to what is happening in that world and how our industry fits in. If you are doing anything in this space or want to do something, then this is where you get up to speed. Check it out on December 13 and register here.

  • This week’s wild looking building?  Look for it coming soon in Miami. Incredible.

  • Time for the monthly review of Glass Magazine. This is the metal companies issue and features the annual Top Metal Companies report along with stories on continuing labor challenges, edge grinding, and a great take on the tariff adventures out there. Cover to cover, yet again, a very solid issue.  As for the ad of the month, I have to give it to Trex Commercial Products for their snazzy ad that really showed the awesomeness of glass. (I’m a sucker for great shots of glass in use.) Tremendous work as always by Tessa Miller and her team at Trex.

  • Speaking of railings, if you watch the TV show “New Amsterdam,” the set they use has an incredibly cool railing and structural wall setup. If anyone out there knows what this one is or who supplied the materials, let me know. I would love to pass the kudos on. Good stuff, and again, shows glass in a fabulous way.

  • Last this week, I came across this fun and snarky look at what the new Amazon HQ2 in New York City could look like. I swear this story of Amazon opening in NYC is going to take 50 more turns before it’s said and done. In any case, I like the fun look at it.

Read on for links and video of the week…

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.E-mail him at

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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