Fundamentals and Tools for Specifying for Glass Façades

Earlier this month, a popular Washington, D.C.–based architecture commentator took to one hometown newspaper to mull local developers’ propensities for all-glass new construction. Was the material’s popularity, combined with limitations like the city’s famous height moratorium, producing look-alike buildings? The thought piece imagined differentiating future projects with traditional materials or higher-flying design. And while these proposals sparked dialogue well beyond the nation’s capital, the essay neglected perhaps the most immediate solution for diversifying the cityscape: Manufacturers offer glass products in a greater variety of colors, sizes, reflectivity levels, textures and performance options — even bent glass is possible — than ever before. Designing a glass façade is no longer a question of choosing between a few off-the-shelf products. Glass appearance and performance may be highly suited to a project’s goals instead, and the end results are anything but look-alike. Carefully specifying a glass façade nowadays can optimize the environmental footprint of a building, functionality for its occupants and the design team’s creative expression. Tailoring individual building exteriors inevitably produces more variety in the urban fabric. Guardian SunGuard® SN 54 installed at Walgreens. Photo by Max C. Kim / Bad Mood Saloon However liberating, the new generation ...
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