Glass Week Gets Underway

Glass Week 2007, sponsored by the Glass Association of North America (GANA), is underway today at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Fla.

The meeting got started over the weekend with speakers on topics as diverse as technology, branding and globalization. Many of these motivational speakers looked toward the future, inspiring GANA members to follow suit during the divisional meetings, which last through this Wednesday.

With respect to the association's growing decorative glass division, members were asked to think about the possibilities of glass during a presentation on emerging products in decorative glass. Rachel Long of Hospitality Design magazine discussed trends where she sees possibilities for designers to use more glass. Her slides were filled with images that demonstrated iconic aspects of decoration; high contrast between materials, textures and colors (picture sleek glass walls on two sides of a bathroom, and brick on the others); chameleon materials (in one of her examples lighted glass columns shifted and blended into the materials around them); and the trend toward building green, with examples of how glass can let natural light into a space. Jane Skeeter of UltraGlas Inc. followed with countless slides of the creative possibilities for using glass-slides showed glass tiles in water features, dichroic glass creating light patterns in architecture, glass chairs, glass sculpture and even a glass outfit Skeeter had created.

As each of the presenters noted, the ability to use glass in unusual applications is becoming more viable.

"The improvement of hardware has really helped us," said Skeeter. The session offered a taste of what may be discussed during the decorative glass division meeting on Tuesday morning.

The association also took a look at history with a presentation from Joseph Smith, senior vice president of Applied Research Associates Inc., who discussed hurricane- and blast-resistant products.

Smith noted the comments of a terrorist who had been arrested a year ago after targeting a courthouse in Minnesota. The building had been targeted "because it was made of a lot of glass and it was close to the street," Smith reported. The image of vulnerability is changing due to the use of blast-resistant products.

One item that Smith addressed was that protection is not just required of high-profile targets, such as federal buildings, but also to the buildings around them. He noted that when it comes to protecting structures from blasts, collateral damage is an important consideration.

In discussing the technology available for protecting buildings from blasts-including laminated glass, window films and catcher systems-Smith made another keen observation: to work, the system must be installed correctly. In one video he showed a blast test and viewers could see the monolithic piece of glass shatter into the inside of the building, as the unit had been installed backwards, based on the manufacturer's instructions.

"About 40 percent of the windows we have procured-from three major suppliers-have been mislabeled," Smith said.

Smith also addressed hurricane resistant-products. In particular, he discussed models based on the Gulfport, Miss., courthouse, which had featured examples of both blast- and hurricane-resistant glazing. Upon visiting the building, the water damage it had suffered was found to be primarily from damage to the roof. An inspection found that only the exterior panes had failed on the hurricane-resistant windows, and that failure occurred on less than 25 lites. Only one interior pane was cracked, and even that remained in the frame.

"We are working diligently with the [Mississippi] government to develop a hurricane plan similar to what is in Florida," Smith commented. "That will be an emerging market for many of you."

This morning, Chris Barry of Pilkington also looked at technology with a presentation on the visibility of tempered quench marks. He noted that a quench pattern is an inevitable function of heat tempered glass, it is not a defect. That being said, he added that customers are complaining more today about the appearance of such spots. "In today's construction it is regularly visible," Barry said.

Barry recommended supplying architectural samples to match the final specification-even if it means heat treating a 12-inch square sample-and viewing a full-size mock-up on site under a blue sky. The quench marks are more easily visible with polarized light, he explained. Barry also warned that the effect cannot be eliminated in heat tempered glass, and that the pattern is more visible with thicker glass, high transmission glass and multi-layer glass. Anti-reflective coatings can reduce, but not eliminate, the marks, he said.

One listener quipped that beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder; in his mall at home quench marks from a skylight are cast upon a sporting goods store at certain times of day. Seeing this, his wife had once noted, "That's beautiful-how do they do that?"

Looking forward, the association introduced its president for the year ahead, Andy Gum of Thomas Glass. During Sunday night's dinner, President Julie Schimmelpenningh was thanked for her leadership over the last year and presented with a token of appreciation-an award that Gum jokingly referred to as the "Ganny," having discovered that Schimmelpenningh had once been nominated for a Grammy Award for polka. While there was no demonstration of her musical talent that evening, there was plenty of music and dancing into the night, courtesy of La Mystique dancers who provided the evening's entertainment.

Stay tuned to USGNN for updates from Glass Week.

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