Saturday, June 29, 2013

Very Positive Post

The Architectural Billings Index did bounce back in May after a very bad April, which for many observers is a major positive.  Add that with a very positive business attitude right now (most people are saying they are very busy and doing well) and you have a nice little moment happening.  Hopefully it lasts for a very long while.  I know we are not close to the “good ole days” but we are surely in a better place than we have been.  Let’s keep it going!


--  As you may have heard by now the big ASHRAE meeting happened last week and after more than 70 letters from the industry and interested observers the task committee decided to delay any actions.  So they will take this all in and really should, given all of the consensus at play here, make the right call to not go forward with their plans to limit the use of glass.  The industry came through this time, which is quite exciting to say the least.  Hopefully now there is nothing that gets in the way of the right call being made by this committee.

--  Congrats to Oldcastle Building Envelope, they recently picked up an award for their advertising of their BIM product.  It was a great campaign and they deserved it.  I have picked on Oldcastle in the past, but I have also been complimentary when applicable and this is surely the case.

--  The first session of the Glass Management Institute was held last Tuesday.  I was honored to teach it and be the guinea pig for any glitches and issues.  I hope the class I taught enjoyed and now I look forward to the line up of folks coming up, led by Mike Lemen of Therm-View in a few weeks.  Good stuff ahead!  Sign up if you haven’t done so yet, subjects like the Affordable Care Act and Business Optimization are among the sessions that will really be must attends.

--  For those of you who run or exercise with music… great song to add to your playlist… “We Own It” by 2Chainz and Wiz Khalifa.  It’s from the latest Fast and Furious movie and it’s a great piece.

--  Yes in the same blog I just noted that business is good, the industry has consensus, complimented Oldcastle and recommended a tune by a guy named “2Chainz”.  I am guessing the world will be ending tomorrow for sure.  Ha Ha.

--  I am starting to get excited for the Glazing Executives Forum at GlassBuild America.  The State of the Industry panel is coming together and I will tell you this, it is going to be a blockbuster.  Really strong leaders speaking on the subjects that affect this world every day from all-different walks of our industry life.  More info coming soon, but needless to say, you will want to be there for this session!

--  Slow week ahead with holidays in Canada and US.  But something tells me some major news will be breaking soon… no proof, just an instinct I have.  Happy Holidays to everyone reading, stay safe and have fun!!


Stranded and surviving an adventure in Canada…

I always chuckle when schools misspell things.  This one is really bad.

Nice move by Delta Airlines- but what I liked is they had no desire to promote that they did it.  The customer is the one that made sure everyone knew. 


New movie coming out in the fall… Marty Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio team up for the 5th time in “The Wolf of Wall Street”- based on a true story, trailer looks good.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

AIA 2013 Recap

Another edition of the AIA show is now in the books and the reviews of the show were somewhat mixed.  A majority of exhibitors were disappointed with the traffic, especially on a brutal first day.  There were some folks who felt the show was solid though so once again I guess it depended on where you were and what you were selling.  From my view, it was not good.  The floor layout was a confusing mess and I simply did not see traffic coming anywhere close to 2012.  In any case despite the bad reviews I still remain very positive about the entire show process as a whole and can’t wait for the next big event… GlassBuild America!

--  So as you have come to expect from me over the years, here’s my rundown of the life on the floor and what I saw and heard. 

--  The big story easily was View and their latest round of funding led by Corning.  That had many people buzzing.  It is tremendous news for the entire dynamic space, for which I am a huge fan.  View’s booth was seriously impressive too.

--  From a product standpoint, the winners for me were Glass Apps and Pacific Architectural Millwork.  Glass Apps had the coolest interior switchable product that I have ever seen (and I have checked out a ton) and Pacific Architectural Millwork really had some sharp window and curtain wall innovations.  Both companies were not on my radar previously, they sure are now.

--  YKK premiered their latest fun architect video; you can check it out in my VIDEO of the WEEK area.  Good stuff.  It has already more than 84,000 views!  That is amazing!!  Kudos to Oliver Stepe, Mike Turner and company.

--  Once again the excellence of Rob Struble of PPG was on display with a creative usage of his entire booth space, including the backside.  Somehow Rob knew the back end of his exhibit would visible and filled the space with a cool ad to draw people in.  However for the first time in a while, Rob and company did NOT win best dressed… that award went to the very stylish gang at Viracon.  They were sporting new shirts with their logo on the cuff- very sweet.  

--  Downer of the week… a bottle of water was $4 at the convention hall.  Ouch.  And with the altitude there you needed to drink. 

--  I noted View and the excitement on Dynamic glazing above, and the other players showed nicely too. Sage with their smartly branded “Dynamic Decade” had a nice set up, as did the folks from Pleotint.  My pals from RavenBrick garnered a lot of attention with their hair dryer simulation in making their product go from clear to tint.  Good stuff from all. 

--  It was great seeing former interview subject Mark Silverberg of Technoform on the floor and chatting with him on next steps of the ASHRAE issue (more to come on that) and visiting with the classy pair of Dave and Cliff Helterbran.  That was a pleasure and honor.  At the Guardian booth (bustling with activity thanks to several new product launches) it was awesome to see old friends Brian Craft and Bob Cummings.  That was a day maker.  And at that booth, I’d be lost without the great Amy Hennes always looking out for me. 

--  Schott did not have a booth at AIA for the first time in several years, but they still had a presence thanks to Don Press working the floor and Dan Poling out and about.  Dan by the way was mistaken for the great actor James Franco several times.  (Right now my mom just made a face while reading this… the fact I called James Franco a “great actor” sorry Mom, I think he is…)

--  I did like the set up that Tubelite and Wausau had, just wish I had more time to browse there.  Plus I only got see the awesome Heather West from a far because she always had something going on.  Good to catch up with Nick Barone of GGI and the always-friendly Tom Herron of NFRC.

--  Next week I’ll be back with a look at the latest ABI, as well as a recap of the first Glass Management Institute session (still time to sign up folks- click HERE) and more.


--  I love love love Disney and I have no problems with this.  Amazing how hypocritical people are.

--  Frightening and stupid mistake here- very lucky it landed in an honest persons hands.

--  I can’t even grasp what the heck this is.  And why.


The amazing YKK video on being an architect.  Fun and snappy rap tune as well!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Big Show, Great Letter, New Building

Big week ahead as the annual AIA show takes place in Denver Thursday through Saturday.  I do not have high expectations for this event as I just think that the timing and location will keep numbers down.  But I may be surprised because right now there is a positive momentum for trade shows (GlassBuild as an example looking very good with a growing and fantastic line up) so it may exceed the expectations.  In any case I look forward to meeting up with many folks while there and as always my “who’s who” report will be next week right here on the blog. 


--  Kudos to the folks at Hartung Glass who put out an incredible and well thought out message to their customer base about the ASHRAE situation.  Really impressive work by Hartung COO Kirk Johnson and team.

--  Another fantastic issue from Glass Magazine this month.  Two highlights for me… the legendary Top 50 Glazier piece, which always gets the industry talking, and a great piece on safety by Mike Burk of Quanex.  Mike by the way presented one of the best pieces in GANA BEC history a few years ago and the guy delivers every time out.

--  Congrats to Sage Electrochromics on its first shipment from its new plant.  That is a huge piece of news and I know all of the players involved have to be thrilled.  Add that with the NanoMarket report just out predicting the smart glass segment to be the fastest growing around and you just have to feel real good about dynamic technologies overall.

--  I received some great feedback on part 1 of my Jeff Razwick interview.   In part 2, Jeff talks about trends and talent.  Interesting stuff for sure.  I love when people talk “continuous improvement” that is so under-rated in our world.  Thank you Mr. Razwick for your time.  Another great interview coming up in a few weeks…. Until then enjoy the below.

TGP is in a lot of different product segments these days, so your architectural presence I assume is pretty significant.  What is the architectural community asking for as in what trends and products are the “in” things right now?

Razwick: Today's building designs call for higher performance curtain wall and glazing solutions, including from an aesthetic, energy and structural standpoint. For architects, this means selecting curtain wall systems with enhanced design flexibility. For example, can the curtain wall transfer large amounts of daylight without imposing additional cooling loads? Can it support large free spans of glazing without bulky supporting mullions or additional reinforcement? At TGP, we've found this desire has led to an increase in the specification of steel curtain wall systems. They're strong, versatile and advanced products that help overcome a key limit on design flexibility – the limited strength or design limitations of aluminum back mullions. We expect to see this trend continue to grow.

Across the board, energy performance also continues to drive glass and curtain wall system development. This is particularly true in light of today's green building standards and prescriptive qualifications for glass. Keep an eye out for glass and fenestration systems with improved U-values and solar heat gain coefficients and new glass surfacing options, including films, tints and frits.

TGP boasts some serious talent, I have tremendous respect for guys like Devin Bowman and Chuck Knickerbocker, and they’re among the best in the industry.  So that said, what’s the great TGP secret behind finding and then encouraging/enabling folks to become serious contributors to our world?

Razwick: First off, thanks for the compliment! Working with individuals who are passionate about our customers and industry is a privilege we don't take lightly.

We believe our success in attracting and retaining the right people starts with our values – integrity, teamwork, innovation and service. These values have helped us shape our company culture into one that fosters both personal growth and collaboration. A mindset of continuous improvement is critical to exceeding customer expectations, whether we're providing products and services to help an architect solve design challenges or supplying glaziers with products in a timely manner.
Our goal is to have a positive feedback loop. When our processes and programs support our mission and values, they in turn benefit our customers, partners, employees and community around us.


Excellent story on the way social media has changed how we react the major events.  And it truly has…

Random acts of kindness rule…. Like this one.

Hard to figure what to make of this TV hoax.


Love horse racing and this one is a classic race… Calidoscopio comes back from at least 30 lengths down to win it.  Start it at the 1:30 mark or so and you’ll see how far back he comes from… amazing. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Quick Hits and a New Interview

Really slow news week but I look at it as the “calm before the storm” because next few weeks promise to have a lot of interesting action. So to fill the hole I am continuing with my blog interview series as this post I catch up with a tremendous and classy businessman in Jeff Razwick of TGP.  The first of two parts is below.  Thank you all for the feedback too- I have several more lined up and it’s a thrill to get to chat with so many industry people that I respect and share their insights with everyone who reads this.

Before the interview… some other items…

--  I did get the answers to my questions last week on the “greenest office building” job.  The glass was manufactured by PPG, fabricated by Northwestern Industries (NWI) and metal system was from Schuco.  Goldfinch Brothers installed it and Architectural Glass & Aluminum (AGA) did some of the initial design assist.  Great work guys… and thank you to my sources that came through quick!!

--  I know other bloggers join me in complaining about gas prices (today 4.29 in Detroit) but curious why no major media outlets cover this?  Big Oil own them too?

--  I did get picked on in both San Antonio and Miami for not making a pick for the NBA Finals.  The reason? I have good friends in both cities and me making a pick and thus jinxing a team would be very bad. 

Now to the interview… I was thrilled to land this chance to talk with Jeff Razwick.  In my opinion, he and his company boast some of the best qualities in our industry.  In part 1 I hit him up on codes (the protective variety) and BIM, while next week we talk architectural trends and industry talent and recruitment. 

Codes of all varieties have been prominent in the industry news lately.  I know you and your company follow along very closely, especially on the protective side.  What is your take on how this latest cycle went and what if anything are the codes missing out on?

Razwick: Overall, the latest code cycle was positive. In recent years, much of the emphasis has been on the importance of active fire protection devices like automatic sprinkler systems. This caused the pendulum to swing away from passive fire protection. We're finally starting to see the codes even out and address the importance of both active and passive fire protection. Amendments to section 703.4 in the 2012 IBC underscore this point by prohibiting the use of sprinklers or automatic suppression systems when testing for the fire-resistance of construction materials.

One disappointing issue during the 2012/2013 code review was the disapproval of proposal E121-12. That proposal sought to reverse the trade-off that allows schools to have exit corridors with no fire rating when sprinklers are in place. Despite the fact that school structure fires have significantly higher numbers of injuries than other non-residential occupancies, and NFPA data continue to report that sprinklers fail approximately 10 percent of the time, the committee concluded that adding fire-rated exit corridors would lead to a significant increase in cost without “sufficient justification.” Considering our kids and the educational professionals in these facilities, it is time to put aside code trade-offs and ensure schools are adequately protected from fire.

A few years ago BIM (Building Information Modeling) was all the rage.  But it’s my perception (and probably wrong) that BIM has hit some roadblocks and is not being utilized as much.  What are you seeing and do you think it’s going to ever be something that everyone will offer?

Razwick: There's still a lot of interest in BIM, particularly for modeling and rendering. Completed schematic designs and building models provide decision makers with a holistic view of the desired building components, and a good idea of project modifications.

One of the chief challenges with BIM is system adoption among all project members. Since computer-aided design requires a fundamental shift in technology and training, it's not realistic to assume BIM has been implemented into the workplace of all project design and construction members. Without full project integration, it's not possible to fully realize the quality, cost and time-saving benefits of BIM across design and construction.

Companies will increasingly adopt BIM for its ability to make construction more collaborative, innovative and efficient.


Great story about a classic senior class prank done well and with a good humored Principal.

If the goofy gas prices won’t depress you this story on world economics will.

The housing growth is causing issues on finding employees.  This will be an issue (actually already is) on the glazing side.


Jimmy Kimmel with a fun bit on asking fans how the Lakers will do in the NBA Finals.  The rub?  Lakers lost in the playoffs a long time ago….

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Silverberg Part 2 and more...

I won’t beat the horse any more on the last few weeks of code talk, but I will say it has been absolutely wonderful the amount of dialogue that has come about after the wave of stories on the ASHRAE situation.  To me that is all I can ask for, getting people talking and hopefully good things come of it.  In the meantime I do have part 2 of my interview with Mark Silverberg below and he brings a ton more interesting insights.


--  Well the positive trend of the Architectural Building Index (ABI) finally came to an end in May.  So now we see if this is a fluke or will this mean a light 1st quarter of 2014?

--  Speaking of reports, for the first time I saw the “CBI” the Construction Backlog Indicator.  I swear I need to start one of my own… anyway the CBI is 7% higher today than it was a year ago… so take that as you will…

--  OK folks… who did the glass and aluminum on this job?  It is being called the “greenest office building” and the article notes the high energy efficient building envelope but does not mention who are what products were used… so check this link… and congrats to whomever had a hand in this.

--  I did finally finish the season of “The Americans” and it did not disappoint.  One of the best season finales I can remember.  Can’t wait for next season!

--  Now on to part 2 of my interview with Mark Silverberg of Technoform.  Thank you for to everyone who read last week, as it broke traffic records on the blog, which is VERY cool and appreciated. The below is longer than I normally print, but I believe it to be worthwhile.

You were recently in Washington DC to follow up on bills like Shaheen-Portman (Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act) and the Energy Efficient Commercial Building deduction known as 179D.  How was your trip and do you believe efforts like these will bear some positive fruit for our industry?

Mark Silverberg: We had good visits with key Senators and engaging discussions on critical issues to our industry. Representatives of Guardian, Quanex, Technoform, GANA staff and the Aluminum Association (invited by Kawneer/Alcoa) participated in the hill visits. We met with staffers of five key Senators who serve on the influential Senate Finance Committee: Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA), Grassley (R-IA), Portman (R-OH), and Stabenow (D-MI). Our primary focus was renewal/extension of the 179D tax deduction due to expire at the end of 2013 (part of the 2005 Energy Policy Act), which encourages the use of energy efficient materials in new and existing commercial buildings. It was only coincidence that the Shaheen-Portman bill was successfully voted out of committee the day of our visits…we can’t take credit for this! The Shaheen-Portman bill broadly addresses energy efficiency and job creation in our society, and enjoys wide support, while 179D applies more specifically to our industry.

We explained that the commercial new construction and retrofit markets are among the biggest opportunities for energy efficiency savings in our society. If you upgrade the lighting or HVAC in a building you may gain 10% or so in energy savings. Add a building envelope retrofit and your energy savings can reach 40-44%. Plus you can upgrade the air barrier for significant additional energy savings, and realize people productivity improvements of up to 150% or more. However since developers don’t pay the energy bills, which are passed on to the tenants, developers aren’t going to fund extensive retrofits without substantial economic incentives.

GANA’s engagement on this issue and the information we provided these key Senators’ staffers, was well received. In general, they were unaware of the economic, energy savings or well-being impacts of our industry. The glass and glazing industry has no effective representation in DC at this crucial time of increasing code and regulatory change. GANA sees a need for the glass and glazing industry to speak as a coherent voice on major policy issues which broadly affect the health of our industry and we’re clarifying how we want to address this.

I recently interviewed Avi Bar of Advanced Glazings and one of his comments was that we as an industry need to embrace innovation and education.  What do you think holds us back from doing these things?

Silverberg: Our industry has a tremendous history of innovation, but the technical complexity and interrelatedness of building systems strains the ability of many architects to understand and implement these solutions, thus the slow rate of market adoption. In private buildings the developers focus is on lowest first-installed cost rather than long-term operating costs, while the tenants pay the energy bills and cost of poor worker productivity. Our code adoption and enforcement is patchwork at best and lacks a coherent strategy. The Shaheen-Portman bill begins to address these gaps. The prescriptive path of code compliance is an impediment to creating energy efficient buildings since it lacks a holistic, integrated design approach with effective modeling tools.

The key to moving forward is effective collaboration with key stakeholders and industry associations to solve the increasingly complex challenges of buildings of today and the future. We shouldn’t wait for others to do it for us.

Technoform is a worldwide company so you see action from all over the globe.  Are there products/systems/codes/attitudes in other parts of the world with regards to energy efficiency that we need to adopt immediately?

Silverberg: Every country and region is unique but there are some best practices to learn from. Over 30 countries now monitor their building energy use rating and disclosure. This is similar to what New York City is implementing and a step in the right direction. Also some US cities are implementing building energy certification, which also helps. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Code policy is a patchwork quilt in the US and enforcement is even worse. National model building codes need to be strengthened and the code-writing process needs to be more transparent. Other countries have overcome these challenges and we should too. The definition of sustainable buildings and communities is expanding from life-cycle analysis of energy and environmental impact to include human well-being metrics. I will participate in a global conference on this topic to be held in Cleveland in 2014. There are great examples of projects and collaboration both in the US and the world over and we’ll need much more cooperation and collaboration to solve the complex challenges that we face. The key issue is to clarify our commitment, and effect planning, to design and build better buildings that use less energy where humans can flourish.


--  Really interesting article on the 10 Brands that willdisappear in 2014.  Some may surprise you….

--  Great story… Burger King being robbed, so one employee sneaks out the back door and takes the crooks getaway car!

--  Swedish school forgets a course… Uh Oh…


Time for the May bloopers in the world of TV news… some good ones here… some are meh…. But still worth the watch.