March 27, 2018

Connecting with the Artistry of Architecture

by Joe Erb

I wrote in a recent post recapping the 2018 BEC Conference about the need for balance when it comes to commercial building design. Aesthetics and high performance—the most successful projects come together when equal attention is paid to both.

It’s a principle I firmly believe in. But when it comes to the conversations I typically have with customers, it shouldn’t be too surprising that my own focus tends toward the “high performance” part of the equation. That’s my side of the business, after all—fenestration components that deliver high performance and applicability with all parts of the manufacturing and glazing process.

But like I said last week, it truly is about balance. Architectural design trends are continually in flux, and glass affords significant visual appeal for structures around the world. And architects, after all, have the unique challenge and ability to balance art and science.

The possibilities with glass are growing and changing, and I’ve talked in the past around the need for our industry to foster good working relationships with the architectural community. And there are connections we can make not just in the realm of building performance, but through the artistic nature of their work.

Connection, collaboration and education.

When it comes to a complex commercial glass project, good communication between all stakeholders throughout the process is critical. And it’s worth our continued effort to better understand each other and each part of the process.

This is one of the reasons the MERGE program caught my eye a little while ago. The project is a collaborative glass installation between the Architectural Glass Institute (AGI), the Finishing Trades Institute (FTI), and the Jefferson Architecture Program, and an academic way for architecture students to experience the methodologies and construction of glass when it comes to designs. It was also an artistic competition, with the design of the installation coming from the winning student team.

It’s a great example of finding balance—between the artistry of the installation itself and the construction principles that can make it become reality. And in the world of increasingly complex glass design and installation, anyone in our industry can take some inspiration from a project like this.

Engaging newer generations.

The success of the glass industry depends on good workers and labor, and as has been much discussed in recent years, that doesn’t always come easy.

There are a number of things we can do to make the investment in future fenestration professionals, and one of those things is getting in front of young people early during their educational careers. This could mean developing partnerships with schools, creating apprenticeship programs, and more.

But critical to this, of course, is making a career in glass sound appealing and exciting. One thing we might sometimes lose sight of is just how impressive, cutting-edge and artistic commercial glass design can be. For just one example, look at 7 St. Thomas, a striking structure that makes extensive use of curved insulating glass. Quanex had a hand in this project—and it took close collaboration between the architecture firm (Hariri Pontarini Architects), the glass provider (Standard Bent Glass), the glazier (BV Glazing Systems) and ourselves to bring the project to life.

There are plenty of other examples to point to. Aesthetics—and artistry—are important to the world of commercial design, and glass is fundamental. It’s something we should remind ourselves of more often.
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Posted: March 27, 2018 by Joe Erb Filed under: architecture, commercial, glass