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Invisible Design

By Post Glass and Mirror, Jun 5 2018 04:05PM

US Glass Magazine’s April 2018 edition featured several articles in regards to building safety using glazing. The article titled “Invisible Forces” dove into discussions about the design evolution of glazing and other building features due to recent events in the past few years.

Armed aggressor scenarios and severe storms are two areas that have seen an increase in glazing development in recent years. From hurricanes stronger than have been recorded thus far to mass shootings never before experienced, the past few years have ripped into our country’s infrastructure, literally. Because of this, state codes are being updated in response to these events to keep up with what can be thrown at a building.

For instance, have you ever been at a shopping mall or chain store and noticed an abundance of concrete blocks, flower pots, or pillars outside of the store? These obviously aren’t there for looks, because there are many more appealing things than a block of concrete. The main purpose for this concrete is to absorb the shock that could come from a ballistic blast or prevent a vehicle from driving into buildings. These are called “standoffs” and provide a standoff distance for the building.

Putting standoffs in front of a building can influence the amount of glass that is on the facade. More standoffs decreases the likelihood that someone will be able to get at the building, which means that more glass can be used on the face of the building. Less standoffs, or none at all, could provide easier access to the inside of the building. To keep the occupants of the building safer, it is more likely that less glass will be used in this situation.

However, it’s not about restricting glass. It’s about refining the structure and technology of the glass and its supports that will create a safer space. Current technology and increasing advancements in glass and other glazing techniques offer solutions to keeping building occupants safe, secure, and happy. For example, architects have started placing an emphasis on building the entryways and lobbies of building for maximum security. This can mean having more doors to go through, literally, as one or more of them can be automatically locked during an emergency and can trap a possible assailant away from the building occupants.

Vestibules are also being more prominent in the security ring as they allow for potential hazards, human or weather-related, to have more obstacles of getting insides. If extreme flooding were to start occurring, the vestibule can become a place for water to pool, while still keeping the flood waters outside of the actual building, allowing more time for the occupants to get to safety. They also aid in reducing direct lines of sight from the outside to the inside of the building. This is becoming more important as blocking sight can reduce the likelihood of attackers approaching a building. If they cannot see what is going on in a building, they don’t know if they are headed straight to walls or people, and this can deter many potential assaults.

On top of all of this, bullet resistant glass and other materials are expected to be on the rise for sales. Right now, mostly federal buildings and high-security government buildings are the biggest customers of bullet resistant materials. However, it could be more common to see it in other establishments, like schools and large businesses. But, this will come at a price. Bullet resistant material is significantly more expensive, in general, than its less protective counterparts. But, when lives are on the line, it is important to consider going bullet resistant.

If you are looking into materials like this, we recently had an inquiry come to us about security films that can be applied to window and door glass. It’s essentially a sticker large enough to cover the whole window, but it is much stronger than that. The whole purpose of it is to delay the entry time of a possible assailant. This means that there is more time for the authorities to come and dismantle a situation before it becomes threatening. This film, however, could void the warranty on windows if applied. So, if you are considering this as an option, weighing the advantages of the film to the distadvantages of losing a window warranty will be in your future. If you have a window that has an expired warranty, there should be no problem in using the film on the windows.

The referenced article can be found here:{%22issue_id%22:489851,%22page%22:62}

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