Contract Glaziers Speak Out: Big Building Boom

It's high times for professionals in the architectural glass and glazing industry. A more than yearlong boom in big building projects, especially in the high-rise residential market, is changing skyscapes in cities across the country and keeping glazing subcontractors and fabricators plenty busy.

"Big buildings are booming in our area," says Jeff Haber, one of four managing partners of the Nanuet, NY-based W & W Glass, LLC, the largest glass and glazing subcontractor in New York and one of the largest in the U.S. "There is still an insatiable demand for all glass towers, specifically residential condos in our area. There is a slowdown in some cities but not here. Last year at this time, the quantity of projects was plentiful but the quality wasn't there. Now, the quantity is less but the projects are of a higher quality which makes for a better situation."

Arthur Berkowitz, president of J.E. Berkowitz LLP in Westville, N.J., also sees growth in this area. "Over the past several years, with the improving commercial/architectural markets, we have seen a significant amount of demand for our IG-coated glass products, for larger/monumental projects, that we define as being in excess of 100,000 square feet" he says. "To handle them successfully, it requires a combination of in-house personnel, experienced in architectural promotion, project managment, technical services, and quality assurance, along with the fabrication capacity, especially challenging in both IG, and heat-treating. In addition, our focus on higher quality standards, particularly in heat treating optics, and flatness, allows us to meet or exceed the critical tolerances and specifications associated with projects of this magnitude."

The story is the same along the West coast. "We're very busy with large building projects across the country and especially here in our West Coast Region," says Mike McConnell, manager preconstruction services, from Enclos Corporation's Pleasanton, CA office. For Enclos, one of the largest and most respected curtainwall and glazing specialty subcontractors in North America, they are in their element with high-end, large unitized curtainwall projects.

"This has always been our niche and primary focus," continues McConnell. "The cyclical nature of the industry definitely changed in the last year or so. This year the high-rise residential market has really taken off and is keeping us very busy. The office building market slowed due to vacancy rates, but expect it to rebound in the near future."

"In the meantime," McConnell adds, " we'll continue to step up to the challenges brought about by a healthy boom in the market and do what we do best."

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