Sunday, May 29, 2016

An Incredible Project

Last week I took my daughter on a college campus tour at Michigan State University.  In the middle of campus a building absolutely stuck out and took all of my attention.  The structure was the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and while I had read about it over the years and seen a picture or two, it did not shake me until I saw it up close.  The late, great Zaha Hadid designed the building and calling it iconic may be an understatement.  The first thing that stuck me of course was the glass.  The curtain wall was unique and breathtaking and then inside the oversized all glass doors with what looked like ¾” glass stopped me in my tracks.  Just the way this project utilized glass and how perfect it all looked had me completely blown away. 
So when I got back home after the tour I made sure to try and find out more and I had thought that Guardian was involved in some form or fashion.  Sure enough after a note to Chris Dolan, he not only confirmed that Guardian was involved but also shared a great video that showed exactly how deep that went.  All I can say is the glass makeup alone- a quad pane IG- featuring low e, argon, and silkscreen made me glad I was seeing this after the fact and not worrying about producing it!  Anyway the video is only about 3 minutes long and if you are glass geek, it is absolutely well worth the watch.

Side note- My conduct during this part of the tour had our guide a bit worried. I was studying every piece of glass up close, going to my knees trying to look at logos etc.  My daughter just shook her head, it’s not the first time she’s seen me go gaga on a glass and glazing project.   Oh and side note #2… despite this amazing building, Michigan State did NOT crack my daughters top 3 for colleges much to the chagrin of her mother and I who would love to have her only 2 hours from home instead of the current long trip choices she’s considering.  Obviously she hasn’t learned yet that great glass is always a big part of every decision!


--  Last week I noted that I would have more on the latest Architectural Billings Index report.  At the end of the report the AIA included some comments from firms and I wanted to share a few of them here because I think what the architects are going through absolutely mirrors our industry:

• We are in a position to turn away work that does not fit our schedule/staffing. The downside is that we having a hard time hiring competent new employees.
—80-person firm in the Midwest, institutional specialization

• First quarter was a roller coaster ride of work and no work. Hopefully moving forward the hills and valleys will lessen.
—6-person firm in the South, commercial/industrial specialization

• Labor shortage is killing us. Firms are cannibalizing each other’s staff. The way you combat this is by making the firm a great place to work.
—125-person firm in the West, institutional specialization

So workforce is an issue along with crazy and inconsistent performance in the 1Q.  While the economic side is seemingly leveling out, the labor shortage is a massive worry.  I am surprised because with all of the downsizing architectural firms did during the downturn I would’ve thought a labor shortage would not be one of their issues.  I also wonder if it’s not so much of a labor need but rather the desire to do more with less and not grow like they did previously.  Anyway I found it interesting that there’s certainly similarities between our world and the design one.

--  Previously I had written about the closing of Spectrum Glass.  Now the government is pushing down on another player in the colored glass world and they’re trying to fight back.  Click this link from Bullseye Glass for more info.  This continues to be a story to watch on many fronts.  It obviously is affecting business, and that will have a trickle down for sure.  But what about the environment?  That is surely a concern too.  When I shared this with a friend this week, she replied that does the need for something outweigh what is safe?  It’s a surely something that is not an easy call for anyone.  My heart goes out to the folks in business caught in the middle of this and hopefully something can work out for all in the end!

--  Last this week, please note that I did pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup here on the blog back in April.  OK, now it’s time for my normal jinx to arrive….Please.


Great story of the week.. the creator of the Heimlich Manuever, Dr. Heimlich himself, used his technique on a person for the very first time….  Wow.  He’s 96 by the way.

I trust the Robot waiter at Pizza Hut more than driverless cars.

If you know me, you know I love Pop Tarts- but these new flavors are non starter for me. 


If you did not check out the Guardian video in my post above- please do so.  But for here we’ll go lighter.  I love these videos of college kids getting surprised with a scholarship.  This is a good one from Duke.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quick AIA 2016 Review

My time at AIA was very limited, so I didn’t come close to seeing everything and everyone I wanted.  But I feel like I was there long enough to make some observations.  The buzz was positive, exhibitors seemed happy though the inconsistent flow of architects, which is an AIA staple was still happening.  Philadelphia did attract a lot of northeast architects, and I talked with one from Boston who hadn’t been to an AIA event in years- I have a feeling he was not the exception this year.

The overall design of the exhibits was fantastic.  There is no doubt that budgets really swelled this year, as there were some excellent booths.  Which ones really caught my eye?  Viracon had a massive display showing their future oversize capabilities.  The way they positioned it in their space, just drew people to it.  Pleotint with a great video wall in a bright and open display was strong, and kudos to Guardian who made subtle but very smart and effective upgrades to their standard show booth.  I also really liked GGI’s as well, they had so much glass showing, and there seemingly was a decorative style for any taste.

Other trends at play were the Division 10 offerings and traditional residential window people pushing new products for the commercial space.  There was a lot to see but unfortunately my time just did not allow it.  And speaking of time, why the AIA chose to close the show at 4 instead of 5 is baffling to me.  I know I could’ve used the extra hour. 

I assume that the keynote of Julia Louis Dreyfus was fine, but no one spoke of it to me.  It surely did not have an impact like past speakers.  Still a head scratching call.

So once the show ended and the lights were quickly shut off, I had a little time before heading out to the airport.  So being in Philly, I looked up where “Rocky’s Steps” were.  I am a huge Rocky guy.  My son is as well.  So I had to make the pilgrimage.  Luckily I was joined by the best-dressed guy in North America, Danik Dancause of Walker Glass.  (Outfit: Amazing blue suit & bow tie) So Danik and I walked the almost 2 miles, through the maze of Philly road and sidewalk construction and roundabouts to make it to the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art.  It was surely something to see… and yes I did make sure to get a picture next to the classic Rocky statue.  No time to run the steps though… plus in my current crummy shape that was a heart attack waiting to happen.


The latest Architectural Billings Index was released this week and it is still in positive territory.  The interesting nugget from this report was that the “New Design Contracts” category jumped to its highest rating since last summer.  There were other pieces I want to get to on this and I’ll hit on them on my next post.

Last this week… just a heads up for a great website for technical and educational resources.  Check out and see that it is a treasure trove of information.  The latest addition “All About Glass and Metal” is geared towards Architects and Specifiers, and it’s a strong piece that I am sure many will find helpful.


--  I do love dogs… cool story!

--  And sticking with the dog theme, meet “Freeway Frida”

--  And one for you cat lovers… this seems too good to be true!


This is old but oh so great.  It is the John Olver take down of NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell.  I can never get tired of watching it.  Goodell is just the worst.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Get Ready For Philadelphia AIA

This week many from the commercial side of our industry will be together in Philadelphia for the AIA show.  This show always fascinates me because it’s like a modified version of speed dating.  The architects only have limited time to hit the floor because of the education courses, so when they do start visiting exhibits the urgency to pull them in is strong because they are limited on time.  That setup makes it a challenging show for exhibitors and anyone else who is working it.  Regardless many go because of the potential overall networking- (suppliers, customers, consultants etc.) which is as big as getting lucky finding an architect legitimately interested in you or your product.  It will be interesting to see how busy it is.  With a good location population wise, and better dates than in the past, it could be a good one.  We’ll see.

Some other AIA related nuggets… 

The keynote speaker was supposed to be actor Kevin Spacey.  He then had to postpone and they grabbed actress Julie Louis Dreyfus to replace him.  And while I am a fan of their work, I’m still baffled on how either person makes sense as a keynote at an architectural conference.  That whole setup smacks of the desire to just bring in a fun big name instead of something actually meaningful to the industry.  Maybe GlassBuild can get Louis CK?   Or Chris Rock?  And yes I know BEC each year has a celebrity athlete as a speaker but it’s never the main keynote and for the most part their messages are inspirational, so there is value there.

The E-mail blast game with regards to AIA is the most prominent I have ever seen.  I have gotten more e-mails from exhibitors at the show, promoting their exhibit and products than ever before.  That is where the medium is truly effective- having a purpose to match to.   Now I will be curious on what the post show flow will look like.


--  By the way speaking of shows GlassBuild America registration is now open.  You can take care of that HERE.  Early bird rates end at the end of this month… you know you are going… and you know you have to be at the Glazing Executives Forum- so sign up now and save a few bucks.

--  Got depressing news this week that Spectrum Glass was closing it’s doors.  It will wrap up business in the next few months and they’ll be a pretty large hole in the specialty art glass side of the industry.  The push from the EPA with regards to air regulations is something that is a big factor for this industry segment and it obviously played a role here.  I met the team at Spectrum once years ago- tremendously nice people and I feel for them, their employees, and customers.

--  Excellent article here on why the need for retrofit is so crucial for the energy efficiency performance in North America.  I have always been on this train- that we are doing a solid job with new construction, but it’s the older buildings that need the push to upgrade.  This story helps push that point.

--  And last this week… a very well put together article on the fact our world is certainly changing.  It brings up a lot of the issues in one place such as China, Data Streaming, Artificial Intelligence, Logistics, OPEC, and Sustainability.  A lot of main issues all pulled together in one place for a serious thought piece.


Great story on 22-year old Disney ticket…  I love that place and wonder if somewhere we still have an old ticket I can re-use…

More and more great journalism is found in non traditional places.  This is surely one of them- uncovering of a Chicago schools scandal…

I can never understand why people don’t think before they do things like “Subway Surf” Just sad.


Meghan Trainor had a tough go on the Tonight Show this week- finishes her set and loses her footing.  Yikes…

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Must See GEF

Registration for the 11th Annual Glazing Executives Forum (GEF) opens this week and a quick look at the agenda has me very excited about this must-attend event.  The biggest draw for me will be the keynote talk from Ken Simonson, the chief economist with the Associated General Contractors organization.  Simonson is one of the most respected voices in the construction forecasting arena and I have been lucky enough to sit in on several webinars that he has been featured on.  His insight to the economy and the effect on our industry will be extremely insightful.  Also on tap at GEF is George Hedley, also known as the “Construction Business Builder”- I saw him several years ago and he was excellent as well.  Obviously as the months go by I’ll have more insight into GEF, but mark October 19th on your calendar and register to be there.  You’re already probably going to GlassBuild America, so make GEF a part of the plan.


--  Just a heads up… The growth of company websites being hacked is heading towards an epidemic range.  So get with your IT and web developers and make sure your security is up to speed.  I’ve said it before; it makes me crazy that the brightest people in the world use their intelligence for evil.  Incredibly frustrating.  

--  We just completed Construction Safety Week and I think the focus by so many was helpful in pushing the message.  However the obvious note is that safety has to be first in line all the time.  It’s a mindset and that needs to be constantly reinforced for the good of all.

--  Just received the latest Glass Magazine and the May issue is strong once again- especially with incredible educational resources and a look into the world of the architect.  The highlight for me on that was a tremendous article by Joe Erb of Quanex on building a long lasting relationship with the design team.  Joe is one of the most talented guys in our world and when he’s sharing insight, I am there.  Great stuff!

--  The ad of the month was a very tough call.  People have raised their game dramatically over the last several months.  So unable to pick one, I am giving the nod to my two favorites for May.  At the front of the magazine a very eye catching ad from Petersen with their PAC-CLAD brand.  When you can open a magazine and the ad stops you immediately- you know you did it right.  Also props to Guardian for the ad on the back of the issue.  It was a very simple, and effective ad.  Picture and testimonial were placed nicely and I liked the bold tag at top.  Good job though to all the advertisers this month, really enjoyable approaches.

--  Last this week, Mothers Day is here… and I’d like to pass a Happy one to my Mom.  She actually reads this blog every week, even though most of the stuff I write about she has no idea what I am talking about.  But that is the motherly thing to do right?  So happy Mothers Day Mom from your 8th favorite kid.  I love you. And to all of the other Mom’s out there hope you had a great day!!


--  THIS is the sort of story that should go viral but doesn’t.  (Yet Caitlyn Jenner on Sports Illustrated does- ugh)  This kid is awesome…

--  Maybe I am crazy but this story is way over the top.  This is a bad prank but the student is being penalized a lot worse than he should.  Wow.

--  This is a fantastic way to improve behavior.  Props to the WV school that did this.


Carpool Karaoke…. I had never seen this before but evidently it’s a fun thing with Late Show host James Corden.  Good stuff.  Especially the end.  Plus I am a fan of Gwen Stefani, so I had to watch it for that- while others I am sure watched for Julia Roberts and George Clooney