Glaziers Speak Out: Architects Knowledge on Glass
Does an architect's knowledge of glass and glazing products really make a difference
in the overall project? Yes, say a sampling of industry professionals.
Architects play a vital role in almost every commercial glazing
project. Their knowledge and understanding of glass and glazing
products are crucial in terms of helping to keep drawings and expectations
realistic, projects on time, within budget and warranties valid.
There is a direct relationship between an architect's knowledge
of a product and their specifications. The more accurate an architect
is with his or her drawings, the better it is for the glazing contractor,
the overall project and the end user.
"It depends on the firm," says Steve Emmenecker, vice
president for American Glass and Metals, a mid-to-large size glazing
contractor serving southeast Michigan. "Some firms are very
well-educated while others continue to make very common mistakes
in specifying types and surfaces for opaque coatings and code compliance.
We see a lot of very simple mistakes with specifications occurring
over and over again. I think the primary reason for this is because
architects rely too much on 'boilerplate' specifications and this
can get them into trouble."
Matt Echeverria, a project manager with Embassy Glass, a mid-size
glazing contractor in Las Vegas, says architects will have to take
notice of problems with their specifications and learn more about
how systems come together as more third-party consultants come into
the mix. "Owner's representatives and/or general contractors
are increasingly hiring a third-party to double check the glazing
specficiations and engineering components. This helps keep the architect
in check on what is being drawn and what can actually be used and
"As long as the third-party is brought in early enough we have
time to address workmanship, warranty and field installation issues
that arise from poor details from the architect's drawings based
on the 'intent,'" continues Echeverria. "While there can
be additional costs, we find this movement [a third-party review]
is helping to ensure a better product for the customer at the end
of the day."
"Clearly, the more knowledgeable an architect is regarding
the glass or aluminum products they specify the better it is for
all of us," says Jerry Larson, the third generation of Larson's
at the family-owned and operated business in Puyallup, Wash. "The
better understanding of a product's function and performance, the
more accurate they [the architect] can be in specifying the type
of products that will meet lead times and budget for a particular
"A good deal of our work is in the public market and therefore
we are able to get drawings ahead of time," he continued. "This
allows us the opportunity to make changes by addendum or a substitute
request if we see a problem with a particular product. We work closely
with architects and are upfront if we see a particular product that
will not work within the budget, aren't able to obtain within the
specified timeframe or is not a good fit for the job."
"We also are involved with the Washington Glass Association
and participate along with architects on various educational seminars
designed to give this specific group more knowledge and information
about our products," adds Larson, a long-term and active member
of the association. "We encourage the local architects to take
the time to attend these types of seminars. Anything an architect
can do to educate himself on our products helps save time and money
in the long run."
"With the ongoing advances in technology in our field, there
are so many changes in our products and their performance, it's
hard for us to keep up sometimes," Larson notes.
"We don't expect architects to be experts on our products but
a little knowledge does go a long way," says Randy Glaze, an
estimator for Cyrex Glass & Mirror, a small glazing contractor
serving the greater Houston metro area. "It can be frustrating
to look at a set of drawings and see products that the architect
has in mind but simply won't work for the design, application or
budget. If they knew more about our products they would have a better
idea of what would work best the for the job and what they are getting."
"It is very important that we have a good relationship with
our architects and work as a team," Glaze points out. "How
it works right now is if the architect can just give us an idea
of what he or she wants, we can direct them on what is the best
product for the design and budget. In the end, it's up to us to
catch and resolve any products with products before the project
"We're seeing architects increasingly following recommendations
from the manufacturers," says Brian Beck, metals sales manager
for W.A. Wilson Glass from his office in Wheeling, W. Va. "Manufacturers
are becoming more invovled directly with the architect and keeping
them up to date with their products and this in turn is helping
the architect be more accurate with his specifications."
"This is making a big difference in terms of specificing the
right product for the right job at the beginning of the project
and reducing errors early on," he notes.
by Peggy Georgi