On the Road with USGlass

Award-Winning AIA

Yeah that's me getting ready to visit the show..
Yeah that’s me getting ready to visit the show..

Last week we talked a bit about the scary things I saw at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention. Most of those revolved around the use of alternative building materials on the building envelope and why it’s such a cause for concern. So this week, let’s talk about what was memorable in a good way. Let’s even recognize them with an annual award. I call them the “debbies.” Here goes:

Most fun booth: Definitely YKK AP. Now they generate a lot of buzz with the whole “architect rap” thing, but it’s definitely infectious, even to an old glass gal like me. The two guys who appear in the video definitely enjoy creating and rapping in the booth and their enthusiasm was infectious.

Most puzzling booth: Gehry Technologies. I stopped by and learned that the company is an outgrowth of the famed architectural firm. The architectural firm has developed some pretty impressive engineering and modeling tools that have been so popular that they spun off into a separate company. When I asked how well that works, having architectural firms that compete against Gehry then turn around and use their services, I was told it’s not a problem. “We are a totally, totally separate company,” said the gentleman in the booth adamantly. “We have nothing do with them.” Uh … right, except the name. Curious.

Brightest idea: The hardware manufacturer that quickly added cable TV services to the booth at the last minute, then proceeded to show the World Cup match in which the US competed  on a  40+-inch screen the next day. They had a sizeable crowd watching. Neat last minute idea.

The La Cantina booth was friendly and functional, yet conveyed a definite air of high design and comfort.
The La Cantina booth was friendly and functional, yet conveyed a definite air of high design and comfort.

Best booth: I give this show’s best booth award to LaCantina Doors.

Benjamin Woo, LaCantina marketing director, in front of the company’s booth.

It wasn’t the biggest booth or the flashiest, but it definitely conveyed an image of the company as professional with edgy design. The stand looked like a backyard, complete with a Margarita bar and wonderful guitar music.

Most interesting comment: Overhead at breakfast one morning as an older architect was explaining “how things work” to a younger one. They were talking about change orders. “If you disagree about the scope, or how much it should cost,” said the elder, “first get them to pay the money they think it should be and then tell how much you think it should be.” Interesting.

Overall and absolute best thing about the AIA Show: Chicago. What a magnificent, friendly, world-class city. Even this New Yorker has to tip her hat to the Windy City. I don’t know whether it’s its broad shoulders, expansive parks or friendly and sensible people, but Chicago just bear-hugs you into loving it. I never, ever hear anyone say anything bad about Chicago!

Have a good week.