AIA is always a show of note—and innovation. In addition to the glass and metal products there, visitors also are exposed to building products such as living roofs and custom faucets. Everything from new types of software to bathtubs for bicycles (true) were displayed. Here are some of the top themes from the event:
- Mood of jubilation! Every industry member with whom I spoke was busy with work. The number of bids and contracts are up, and backlogs are higher than they have been in years. The buoyancy other building material industries had at last year’s AIA show has reached the glass industry. And this makes sense because glass is often the last industry to mimic the economy. We dive last and we rise last. Right now it’s all upward.
Supersize no surprise. There’s been so much discussion around the architects’ desire to design with larger expanses of glass that glass fabricators are gearing up to do so. Tecnoglass already provides larger expanses of glass and Viracon displayed a jumbo sized lite with clever notations on it explaining its coming foray into the larger sizes, to begin in 2017.3.
- Variable, movable, any-able everywhere. It’s heartening to see products that were brand new category-changers just a few years ago, mellow into middle-aged, all-out acceptance. Variable transmittance glass and full window wall systems are just two of the product categories that have become normalized. There are always new variations on the theme however. Nello Wall Systems of Maryland, for example, introduced a new window wall system with locking hardware that requires no drilling. Guardian debuted its UltraClear™ low-iron float glass, which garnered quite a bit of attention.
- If you dream it, they will build it. Enhanced customization across all categories was a theme as well. For example, one exhibitor’s claim to fame was its ability to make building facades anything you want—including nautical rope. Want a custom bathtub sized for your bike? Not a problem. This desire will translate into glass as well, as architects continue to define how they want the glass to perform before they know if such glass exists. Sourcing and education will become even more vital.
- Education in small bites. Tapas de educacion anyone? AIA changed up how it presents education. It included more CE learning theaters on the show floor, as well as signs in booths showing you could talk to its inhabitants about their products and earn up to .25 hours of CE credit. Education was everywhere, just, it seemed, on smaller plates.
PS: If you missed any of our show coverage, you can get caught up here (Thursday) and here (Friday).