PGC Meeting Continues Today in D.C.

The Protective Glazing Council (PGC) Fall Symposium continues today at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

During yesterday's afternoon sessions, Jaime Gascon with the Miami-Dade County Building Code Compliance Department made a presentation that looked at some of the damage done by Hurricane Wilma last year and what is going on with the building codes since that time.

As he pointed out, it may seem odd that the codes were written in 2006, go through discussion in 2007 and, if approved or accepted, will go into effect in 2008, but that's the way it normally goes. Gascon also showed aftermath pictures of four buildings that are located near one another and described what caused the damage in building; the damage to the upper floors of one building more than 30 stories tall was actually caused by the flying glass from a nearby building, the design of which created a tunnel effect that funneled the debris toward the taller building.

"What you have here is glass breaking glass and it all raining down on the streets below," Gascon said. He pointed out that some designers consider the outboard lite of an insulating glass unit a "sacrifice lite," but that if that outboard lite is annealed and is compromised in a storm, it creates a safety hazard due to the shards of glass falling.

During the question and answer period, Gascon explained that the building codes do not and probably never will not specifically require laminated glass; rather, he said, the Codes will expect a certain standard of work and its up to the industry-the architects, the glass manufacturers, suppliers and builders-to decide the best way to meet those standards.

Following Gascon, John Talkington with The Smithsonian Institution took his audience through the planning and implementation process that has taken place at the Smithsonian Institution.

Talkington described the shift in purpose of the Smithsonian since the events of September 11, 2001-no longer is the focus on protecting the artwork, artifacts and visitors from petty crimes (pickpockets, small scale theft), but now the focus is on protecting everyone from larger threats.

He outlined the process that the organization undertook for the retrofit projects, which included regular and open communication between the organization, the contractors and the staff at all the facilities. The communication with the staff members was important, Talkington explained, because it helped them know what was happening and why. The planning process also took on a sizeable roll, as many Smithsonian buildings themselves are pieces of history that had to be preserved and the retrofit applications were customized according to the age of the building.

Wrapping up the Tuesday meeting was Bill Koffel with Koffel and Associates, who talked about the different applications and standards governing the use of fire-rated and fire-protection glass.

Of note, he said that wired glass was used in the past as fire-rated glass because, at one time, it was the only thing available that provided the protection that it did. Koffel also pointed out that while wired glass is tested for impact, it was rarely tested to withstand the force of impact to which it can be subjected in gymnasiums and places of education, which in recent years has led to lawsuits and political action taken by families who have had children injured in accidents with wired glass.

Today's seminars got under way with Dan Kelly of Applied Research Associates who provided a recap of follow-up ARA did on the Dan M. Russell Jr. Federal Building and Courthouse in Gulfport, Miss. The building was constructed according to ISC Design criteria for bomb blasts and was subsequently subjected to the winds and rain of Hurricane Katrina.

Kelly reported that "It performed much better than similar buildings in the area. Interesting things we did see while we were there - the windows themselves performed really well."

Of importance, Kelly noted that staff had boarded up the streetside windows on the first two floors of the courthouse with plywood-all they were able to get done before they evacuated-but did not protect the windows that faced the courtyard.
"They did not protect windows on the interior courtyard, and they were all broken by the gravel from the roof," Kelly said.

Kelly said ASA estimated that 10 percent of original construction costs losses were avoided in hurricane Katrina at the Gulfport courthouse due to installation of blast resistant windows.

"Blast resistant windows significantly reduced damage that would have occurred in hurricane Katrina had the courthouse not had any protective glazing," he said.

After a short break, Bob Ford with Solutia made his presentation about glazing solutions for hurricane prone regions. Acknowledging that he was facing many of the same attendees who had heard the presentation in Chicago in March, Ford incorporated updates about the status of building code implementation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, sharing how much had-and hadn't-changed in six months.

"It's been a positive now that there are code changes going into effect to save lives and protect property from storms," said Ford.

Alabama, he said, remains the only state on the coast without building codes. Louisiana has accepted codes and Mississippi has codes that are pending approval and implementation.

Touching on some of the same topics that Gascon discussed yesterday, Ford delved deeper into the testing aspect to which glazing systems are subjected.

Rounding out the morning seminars, Wade Belcher with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) made his presentation "Design and Construction for Extreme Forces."

"Going back to the Murrow building (in Oklahoma City), we were primarily concerned that we got the building done on time and within budget, because we thought most of our buildings were benign. We all remember what happened on April 19," he said. When given the task of determining how to make government buildings more secure, many of the responses the GSA received were to shrink the size of windows even as small as ship portholes.

Belcher, who has spoken before the PGC many times before, said he and the lead architect at the GSA at the time did not subscribe to that school of thought and Belcher used his presentation to "show where we have been able to go with your products, your solutions, the design flexibility that we've been able to have for our buildings because of your products."

Keeping the names of many of the buildings secrets, he explained some of the thoughts that went into the building design and safety features that each building offered-and often worked in kudos for his audience for helping make the projects possible.

"The designers have the flexibility to do what they do because of what you, the manufacturers and suppliers, can give us. We can go further than any of us have imagined," he said.

The Fall Symposium wraps up after lunch today with presentations by John Abruzzo of the Thronton Tomasetti Group, who will speak about protective glazing in the private commercial sector, and Ron Waranowski, who will expound further upon his topic of choice, safety requirements for glazing systems in mitigating threats to electronic access.

Stay tuned to USGNN for tomorrow's recap of the afternoon seminars and look for a complete article in the next issue of USGlass magazine.

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