Architects look to glaziers for cost savings
As owners require architects to stick to tight budgets despite rising material prices, architects rely on contract glaziers to come up with economical solutions for glass and glazing that don’t compromise their original design visions.
“Architects are sitting in their offices designing a project that two years ago had a budget of ‘x’, and now they see it’s going to cost far more than that,” says Kevin Cole, director of design for Enclos Corp. in Eagan, Minn. “They end up getting put behind the eight ball, because the budget the owner wanted is still the same. It’s happened in the last 18 months--where the prices have increased and nobody bothered to tell the architects.”
Contract glaziers provide an important service to architects by helping to work through the value-engineering process, says Bill Stein, managing principal from Dattner Architects in New York City.
Glass companies “assist architects and designers in creatively working out technical issues to achieve design goals and offer alternatives, both for glass products and framing systems, so that architects and owners can make intelligent decisions about what works best and is most cost-effective for each project,” Stein says.
Cole says Enclos designers determine what features the architects can’t change without sacrificing their original visions. “What are the things that they really believe distinguishes the design from others and they are going to have a hard time giving up,” Cole says.
Some solutions to reduce glazing costs without disrupting the vision often include switching the glass to a less high-performing, more standard type, or increasing the size of each module allowing for fewer units, he says.
Jeff Haber, managing partner for W&W Glass LLC in Nanuet, N.Y., adds that making alterations to the curtain-wall systems, such as changing the finish, also cuts down on costs. If material changes alone don’t sufficiently reduce costs, glaziers can work with architects to change the scope of glazing, he says.
Glass elements “are the first to be modified, but not the first to go. These are the interesting characteristics and they still need them to attract clients,” Haber says. “So, sometimes we may take the atrium and make it smaller, but it won’t be eliminated.”