Fired Up: The Value of Reliability

There’s been a lot of buzz about the AIA’s recently released survey results, “The Architect’s Journey to Specification,” and rightly so. Numerous stakeholders are involved in the specification process, but architects typically have the final say. This survey sheds light on what drives their decision—something we building material manufacturers and suppliers constantly work to understand. 

The most talked about takeaway from the survey is the need for more user-friendly specification tools. Architects voiced their frustration over how hard it is to quickly find the resources they need in today’s digital era, whether it’s viewing technical details, getting a handle on lead times or seeing how a product has been used in other projects. According to the AIA news release, “Architects want product websites that are clear, concise, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. They also want easy access (no sign-up to view product information) to detailed information, including building information models and objects.”

Given the prominent role glass plays in today’s building designs, it’s imperative that our industry listens to this feedback and makes changes in order to gain specification preference, as well as show glass’ value-added benefits.

The survey also generated an equally important, but less talked about, finding that we must pay attention to: approximately 75 percent of architects reuse specs from previous projects. This includes those who copy and paste from previous specs, and those who reuse previous specs in their entirety.

Why is this finding so important? In a fast-paced, demanding profession, it speaks to how much architects value reliability.

Many architects are overworked, face strict project schedules and have to source numerous building materials for a given project. They simply don’t have the time or capacity to devote hours developing entirely new specs. On the other hand, some reviewers of the study believe this is a shortcut that results from poor resources, while others say it is because architects are perennial creatures of habit. Whether it’s one or both reasons, the bottom line is these decision makers go back to what’s proved successful in past projects, time and time again. 

So, while we can (and should) improve specification tools for architects to break into their field of vision, we also need to provide reliable products and services to ensure our place in future specifications. Whether we manufacture, supply or sell glass products, it’s important our offerings are credibly tested, free of hidden limitations and perform as expected. Because the road to installation is not always straightforward as projects grow more complex, it’s also crucial to become a valuable and trusted resource that helps solve unforeseen challenges. If an architect wants to experiment with an untested product, he or she will be much more likely to come to you if they view you as an extension of their specification team, trusting the products you provide and the work you do.

It’s a win-win when we can better provide architects with the specification tools they need. But, even the easiest-to-use resources will do little to ensure future specification if all an architect remembers is a product that cost them valuable time, resources and money. So, let’s make sure we deliver on both fronts, providing architects with improved resources and reliable products.


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 is a past chair of 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.


Well said. A primer on clear business thinking.