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An Architect’s Perspective on GlassBuild America

Industry events must be interesting and provide information that is applicable to an architect’s daily work. This can come in the form of information and product features, the ability to gain education and learning units, as well as the opportunity to create and foster relationships.

Samples and technical data of manufacturers’ products and materials are essential, especially for existing materials, new technologies and even exterior enclosure systems. Architects like to ‘kick the tires’ – the more physical materials and systems to experience and explore, the better. A trade show floor like GlassBuild is a prime event for this type of hands-on experience. It is important for the glass industry to create an atmosphere of interest and the opportunity to learn.

Learning the products is just part of the goal of attending GlassBuild America. It is reiterated time and again the importance of relationship building. It’s key within the glass and glazing industry. It’s just as important, if not more so, in the broader architectural industry. Architects are not only choosing between glazing products, but other building products entirely. We rely on collaborative relationships to help inform us of the benefits and challenges of particular design ideas. Before a collaborative relationship is built, mutual trust must be established. This occurs over time and through multiple interactions. GlassBuild America is the venue where these relationships can be generated and refined so trust is built, and collaboration comes naturally.

Another way the glazing industry can improve and enhance its engagement with architects is to distil the lack of information available in the market. Provide real technical data for materials with performance metrics such as wind load capacity, fabrication capacity, air and water management, acoustic performance and fire resistance. These are very specific and targeted requests, but ones that will help an architect sort through the information clutter and generate an understanding of how and when a product may be used. This in turn generates confidence in choosing a glazing product in the future.

To promote smooth collaboration now and into the future, glazing contractors, architects and other parties involved in a project should prioritize time to define the expectations of what each participant is to provide – both in ‘lead’ and ‘support’ roles. As the National Glass Association seeks to link the various roles within the glazing and glass building products industry supply chain, having all voices at the table is imperative to an aligned approach and project outcome.

I encourage all people who deal with glass and fenestration products to make time to attend GlassBuild America, including architects. It’s an ideal chance to dig into more detail on one of the most favored building materials out there. Learn of new technologies, touch and feel the products and equipment you’re considering for a project, and solidify the trusting relationships that will lead to collaborations in the future. Important conversations happen at GlassBuild.

Keith Boswell is FAIA of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP – San Francisco.