An architect’s design is their signature. The intent, lines, materials selected, and overarching theme demonstrate how a professional interpreted his or her client’s needs. Sometimes this leans more towards the utilitarian and industrial, and, at others, it can be a thing of beauty – a work of art. Whatever the building’s purpose, it is something that must last and, hopefully, thrive where it is constructed. This means that the materials an architect selects and the reasons behind these choices are not always aesthetic only – they must also serve a purpose, or, several purposes.
As far as materials go, glass is a complex material with myriad applications. It can be decorative, promote energy-efficiency, be structural, weight-bearing, and can form a building’s façade, to highlight a few applications. It can also, at times, be difficult to visualize in an insulated glass unit, as part of a curtain wall, or inside a building; what if the color or tint is not as expected? This can reflect poorly on an entire design team, and it may lead to reduced commissions moving forward, in a worst-case scenario.
Fortunately, product manufacturers know the risk an architect can take when specifying a product, and many have developed programs to educate designers about a product’s performance and aesthetics, ranging from highlighting past projects to in-person demonstrations and lunch and learn presentations. Other tools, like online visualizers and immersive, 3D programs can be offered, but there is nothing like experiencing a product – custom-made – firsthand.
Manufacturers like AGC Glass, the world’s largest glass manufacturer, help architects more directly experience the products they specify. One program, Coating on Demand brings architects directly to a facility where they work with specially trained technicians to create their own custom-coated glass and define its appearance, coatings and performance capabilities. A prototype is delivered before the architect leaves, and this includestechnical specifications and optical properties that are individually defined to the architect’s specific needs.
Another example of an AGC customized glass initiative is MyColour, which is centered around Lacobel and Matelac back-painted glass products. This quick, custom service provides architects with creative freedom in choosing, designing and experiencing their own colors on glass.
Education is key, and there is nothing like experiencing the benefits of a product firsthand to see a true design vision come to life. As such, AGC Glass and others are working to better serve their customers, utilizing modern technology, available resources, and good, old-fashioned communication for years to come.