March 19, 2018

The Equality of Aesthetics and Performance

by Joe Erb

What’s the single most important aspect of a finished commercial glass job?

That’s a trick question, of course. There is no single answer.

That was one of my takeaways at the 2018 Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference in Las Vegas—the need for balancing essential attributes for making commercial projects a success. I had the privilege of being part of the planning committee for this year’s conference, and part of our goal was to highlight the importance of excellence in all areas as we build the modern world.

Our message reached a large audience this year, as well—attendance was over 500 which is up nicely from the past couple of years, reflecting a sense of optimism and momentum for our industry. As we move ahead, I think it’s critical that we continue putting some of those important messages into practice.

Communication and Balance
A commercial construction job, especially one using advanced techniques to realize forward-thinking designs, requires the close collaboration between all parties involved. Architects, fabricators and glazing contractors all must work together efficiently, and that requires transparent communication throughout the job.

This need was highlighted at BEC’s opening “State of the Industry” panel discussion, featuring representatives from all parts of the construction process—architectural design, construction management , fabrication and installation. Hearing from all these stakeholders, and seeing the dialog take shape between them and the audience, was a great way to kick off the conference.

One of the panelists was Keith Boswell, of the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merill. He highlighted the need throughout a commercial project to focus just as much on high performance as with aesthetics. This was a critical statement made from an industry-leading architect. We might generally tend to perceive architects as heavily focused on the look of a finished building—but performance is just as important.  Keep it balanced.
Ahead of the Curve
When it comes to striking aesthetic design trends, curved glass has been making an impact in recent years, and a number of advancements have opened new possibilities.

I enjoyed moderating the panel discussion about curved glass technology—its applications, its limitations, and more. The three bent glass fabricators on the panel (Standard Bent Glass, Cristacurva, and Cricursa) did a great job highlighting the challenges of bent glass but more importantly the advancement, scale and options now available in bent glass.  Within just the past five years, our industry has developed new coatings, new insulation techniques, and new strategies for success on these cutting-edge products giving design professionals and building owners more features on curved glass than ever before. (Digital printed images, new high performance coatings, laminates, large format IG)   Curved glass has gone from an architectural accent on façade to a major elements on high-rise buildings; but pulling off a curved glass project successfully comes with some new considerations.

The panel also highlighted the importance of full-scale mockups for these types of jobs due to the unique ways that coatings interact with different curvatures. Full scale mock ups allow the owner or architect see how bending the glass will impact the aesthetics and they help manage overall expectations for all parties involved.


Overall, BEC 2018 helped demonstrate that communication and collaboration can ensure success when it comes to commercial glass jobs. I hope all attendees keep that in mind moving forward this year.

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Posted: March 19, 2018 by Joe Erb Filed under: building, glass, industry, insights