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Talking to architects – Report from the AIA Conference

Report from the American Institute of Architecture conference.

September 24, 2019  By Rich Porayko

The steady growth of the AIA Conference has turned it into a premier opportunity for Canadian architectural glass companies to interact with their most important clients: architects.

With its ever-changing landscape and excess, cities like Las Vegas capture the world’s imagination. Our industry’s work is influenced by their trends. As an incubator of transformation, Vegas was a fitting venue for A’19 AIA Conference on Architecture 2019.

Held in early June at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the AIA is enormous. With over 150 architect-led seminars, 24 workshops, 150 tours, 130 manufacturer continuing education sessions and 650 exhibitors, there is no way you could see it all.

Glass was relatively under-represented in the over 500 sessions but did include “Designing with Fire-Rated Glass” presented by Tim Nass of Safti First, “Principles of Glass Selection for Façades” by Guardian Industries’ Jacob Kasbrick and “Critical Code and Design Considerations of Glass Railing Systems” by C.R. Laurence’s Brian Clifford and Kevin Perttu of Rice Engineering.

Big is better and biggest is best. Much to the mayor of NYC’s dismay, there is a heated race to see who can produce the biggest, most efficient window or door. The variety of oversize stackable walls, tilt windows, doors on display was insane.


Matte black finishes are still hot. Apparently bronze is growing. Oddly enough, dynamic glazing such as electrochromic glass was quieter than expected.  

“There needs to be engagement with the architects,” said Andrew Haring, vice-president of business development for the National Glass Association. “The specifications process is the point of entry for glass in the building so there needs to be awareness on the technical side about what glass can and cannot do. And they’re not getting a version that’s spun by a manufacturer. They are getting it straight from an association that doesn’t have an agenda. It’s about promoting glass as a building material.”

“There is an assumption that everyone is here for the continuing education but that can be achieved in a million different ways,” added Haring. He says that more and more architects want to see the real article. “They want to touch and hold products. There is always going to be that interest there. That firsthand experience with the product and access to the manufacturers who are subject matter experts. We see more and more architects coming to the AIA show and in turn we’re seeing them show up at GlassBuild as well.”

 “We’re here to raise awareness among the architectural and design community about the advantages of having an independent third-party prequalification for glazing contractors,” said Archiectural Glass and Metal Technician program manager, Ben Beeler. “At the end of the day, we’d like the North American Contractor Certification (NACC) specified as a requirement for the installation entity.” According to Beeler, NACC reduces exposure to liability to architect and glazing contractors and provides glaziers a way to secure additional projects by differentiating them from glazing contractors who have not had an independent evaluation or certification.

“We want to talk to architects,” said Danik Dancause, marketing operations manager for Walker Glass. “We want them to be able to see our products in a bigger form. It gives them an opportunity to see our first-surface bird-friendly glass. AviProtek is a clear glass with visual markers following the two-inch-by-four-inch rule established by leading scientists such as Daniel Klem.”

Walker’s AviProtek-E bird-friendly glass solution combines acid-etched visual markers on the first surface with Vitro’s Solarban high performance low-E on the second surface, creating a bird-friendly glazing solution while saving energy. “This innovation enables architects to achieve their environmental goals and earn LEED credits, while meeting solar performance targets,” said Dancause.

Walker has also partnered with Pilkington to offer AviProtek-T, a discrete bird-friendly glass solution using Pilkington NA’s pyrolytic coated glass. According to Dancause, Walker Glass etches patterned contrasts on the pyrolytic coated outside surface that are visible to birds but barely perceptible to humans.

Dancause says all of Walker’s bird friendly products support the new CSA A460:19 Bird-friendly Building Design standard which requires first-surface application.

“By being at AIA, we have a chance of helping architects solve problems with different issues including daylighting and bird-friendly design. Ultimately, the goal is to meet with them and help support them in future projects. When you are not here, you don’t have the same opportunity to meet with them.”

If your world involves architects or designers, you need to be at the AIA Convention and Expo 2020 in the City of Angels.

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