Glass Magazine May 2017 : Page 30


Collaboration Required

Bethany Stough


When problems arise on a project, the issue is often not the fault of a single product or the work of a single trade. Rather, problems commonly arise at the transitions—the connection points between products on the envelope, and the stages of the project when responsibility transfers from one team member to another. To overcome these challenges, industry experts point to one seemingly simple solution: collaboration.

“Failures happen at the intersection of different building components, the intersection of different trades,” says Stephanie Staub, marketing director for the Architectural Glass Institute, “Our goal is for contractors and the design community to communicate, and work together through technical issues that improve the design so there are fewer problems on the jobsite.”

Complex curtain wall projects only magnify the potential for problems at the transition points. “With complex projects, most failures occur when transitioning between systems. The weak link, always where communication breaks down, is when we transfer tasks—pre-construction to operation, operation to field, architect to general contractor, general contractor to consultant,” says Dan Shields, vice president of planning and development, IWR North America, a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group, mhslegacygroup. com.

Complex projects in particular require close communication between trades, at the project outset and throughout its construction.

That communication will require technology and information sharing.

“The cool part about advancing technology, from a building standpoint, is the ability to have a communication strategy, with live updates,” says Shields. “Lots of people think [technology] complicates. But cloud-based software provides information from the office out in the field. I can make a detailed change and it shows up instantly, for everyone that’s tied to the project.” And practically, adds Shields, if the laptop with the project design and notes falls off the truck, not all is lost, thanks to advanced technology.

Complex jobs are inherently collaborative—each trade must offer the expertise on its product area to ensure constructability, accuracy and safety, and it must do so on schedule and on budget. This article offers guidelines and best practices, along with illustrative case studies, for collaborative curtain wall projects.

01 Collaboration Guidelines for a Complex Curtain Wall Project



• Define project expectations

• Define roles and responsibilities of the design and project teams

General Contractor or Construction Manager WE Architect WE Enclosure Consultant

Major Subcontractors Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing WE Building Enclosure

During the project

• Create a communication plan for the project

• Listen

• Stay consistent

• Write it down; follow-up with documentation

There’s no formula for conducting a seamless project. Put the pieces of a complex curtain wall project together, and the correct steps to take change, not only from project to project, but sometimes from day to day. While the steps of a complex project may change, the focus on communication throughout the project does not. “How do we drive and manage communication and collaboration throughout a project? That’s the most important part of a successful project,” says Dan Shields, vice president of planning and development, IWR North America, a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group,

One way the industry is driving collaboration, particularly on complex jobs, is through the design-assist project process. Design-assist is a start-to-finish collaborative design and construction process that mandates early communication and assistance between trades, suppliers and the design and construction team.

“The art of successfully completing a design-assist contract for a complex faÇade can only be achieved through collaboration between the architect, structural engineer and façade consultant,” says Jeff Haber, managing partner, W&W Glass, “[In this way] all stake holders are aware of the key milestones such as cost, schedule, design, and structural implications.”

Shields recommends holding bi-weekly meetings, both internally and externally with the design team, the in-house team and all vendors during every phase of construction— pre-construction, research and development, and operations.


Collaboration should begin at the start of planning. During the pre-project stage, “there should be a constant review of process, of the schedule, with the operations team involved, from the bidding process on,” says Shields.

In addition to assisting in budget and scheduling, the early collaboration also helps the team identify and rectify any potential problems in the design before work begins. “By working closely with the glazing contractor, general contractor, architect, consultants and other building product suppliers, we make sure that interface details are addressed before construction starts in the field,” says Yosuke Kikuchi, engineering center manager, YKK AP America,

During project

In a successful design-assist project, team members will develop a communication and information sharing strategy to employ during the course of the job. This becomes more important as the project team expands.

“With all different [trades], then bringing vendors into the equation, it’s very important that a clear communication strategy is developed that everybody follows. If that’s not there, there’s usually a breakdown. All stakeholders should have clear directive,” says Shields.


Field Collaboration Conquers Complex, Curved Wall at Kennedy Health Medical Office

Part of a $250-million expansion and update to the Kennedy Health hospital campus in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the 102,000-square-foot Kennedy Health System Medical Office Building will reopen this month, featuring a striking, and complex, façade comprised of five different curtain wall types, coordinated and installed by Guthrie Glass & Mirror Inc.,

“It was an extremely difficult job,” says Lynn Guthrie, president of Guthrie Glass & Mirror. “We conducted many meetings in advance and worked with [the design team] to stay on top of issues, come up with solutions and keep the project moving.”

Guthrie credits father and son Tom and Tommy Domanick, Guthrie Glass site superintendent and general foreman, with working daily to ensure effective communication and coordination, particularly critical on a site with many crews working in limited space.

For the Kennedy Health project, many of the intersection issues were handled in the field directly between trades. Guthrie says her team was fortunate that most of the trades on this project were very cooperative with each other.

The Kennedy Health System office is comprised of five curtain wall systems from Kawneer Co, Guthrie Glass installed two sizes, 7 ½-inch and 10 ½-inch depth, of both the pressure glazed and the structural silicone glazed 1600UT System curtain walls, as well as a 10 ⅛-inch deep toggle glazed Clearwall Curtain Wall System. The insulating glass units with low-emissivity coating ranged from clear to medium gray for the 1-inch IGU used in the 1600UT System Curtain Walls and 1 ⅛-inch IGU with recessed spacer units used in the Clearwall curtain wall system.

Additionally, the Kennedy Health System office project features Glassvent Windows and 360 Insulclad Thermal Entrances with a 10-inch rail, from Kawneer, to combat harsh weather and heavy traffic.

Viracon,, fabricated custom IGUs for the project, comprised of VNE 24-63 Guardian UltraClear,, with silkscreen. Each piece of glass had a different pattern, with different shaped and sized frits. “Every piece of glass had a different etching, shape or design, making installation significantly more challenging to ensure each piece went into the correct position,” says Guthrie. Guthrie Glass coordinated directly with Viracon to ensure accurate installation.

Kawneer application engineers also worked closely with the Guthrie team. Together, they addressed the façade’s unique concave and convex curvatures through splay mullion solutions, and considered potential building movement by implementing expansion gaps and highly coordinated installation sequencing and anchoring requirements.

Vapor barrier details were coordinated closely with EDA Contractors Inc.,, Hagen Construction,, and Crawford Caulking, Incorporating the motorized glass vents in the lobby atrium presented an additional challenge, as each had to be connected to the building’s smoke evacuation system and coordinated with automatic doors and other systems.

“There are many great ideas that look good on paper, but in reality, they don't work that well in the field,” says Guthrie. “Bringing [field glaziers] on sooner, [during] the design phase, could have helped us better understand the realities of the field issues.”

Guthrie also encourages using a façade consultant for complex curtain wall designs, noting the importance of bringing them on early in the design phase. “There were so many different products coming together with this project, and we needed feedback earlier on,” she says. “There will always be field conditions that arise, but some could be addressed early on with a façade consultant who is intimately involved with the entire project.”

J.E. Berkowitz,, and McGrory Glass,, fabricated glass used throughout the project. EwingCole,, provided architectural design and structural engineering assistance. The Norwood Co.,, served as the project’s general contractor.

02 Reliance on BIM for Collaborative Projects


Who is paying for the modeling?

■ Architects drive the use of BIM; the building owner pays. General contractors like the technology for its ability to resolve issues; they coordinate the effort with the design team.

■ There is additional cost up front by using BIM, but the project itself tends to be within or lower than budget and faster turnkey.

Who handles the modeling?

■ There should be a BIM manager assigned within the specification, tasked to handle coordination of all trades. Typically, the BIM manager is employed by the architect or the general contractor.

■ Often the general contractor handles the model, but sometimes the architect will handle it. It often depends on the level of involvement of the initiating company.

What platform should be used with BIM?

■ There are multiple BIM platforms available.

■ It is required per project specifications for every involved trade to carry the same software platform.

■ This information is listed in the spec doc or BIM execution plan.

Source: Luoma Design Solutions,

As the complexities of curtain wall increase, so too do the technologies available to handle them. Building Information Modeling, a digital representation of a structure’s physical and functional characteristics, is one technology that has become more mainstream in the building community, since the architecture and design community started moving toward larger, more complex building designs.

For the design team, the ability to see all elements of a building design in 3-D helps to illustrate the clashes—the problems that can occur when multiple building components or trades come into contact—throughout the schedule. In this way, using BIM helps to drive the construction timeline and pushes everyone involved to collaborate early and often. “BIM dictates a collaborative effort,” says Dan Luoma, president of Luoma Design Solutions,, a building model and design firm.

“Collaboration and 3-D modeling reduce errors in building design. Any potential issues with a complex design, however, do require extra planning,” says Brandon Boris, senior designer, innovative model design leader, Luoma Design.

The reason for the more extensive planning on a complex project is a result of the number of trades involved, and how each trade’s products, timeline, safety and budget come into play on the same project. “The hardest thing is making sure all trades are coming together at the same place,” says Boris.

“The architect has developed a generic design, with no specific products. Subcontractors fill in missing pieces with specific products. The goal with complex curtain wall design is to make sure all stakeholders are talking to ensure the specific products come together.”

Boris says in the first few meetings when using BIM, the project team will identify many clashes, or problems at the intersections. In a 3-D building environment, it is easier to see those clashes, and work to resolve them in a cloud-based or live setting, with all involved trades in real time.


Shop Drawings, Models Facilitate Coordination at UMBC Event Center

Still under construction, the 172,000-square-foot University of Maryland Baltimore College Event Center is a multi-purpose facility that will host all UMBC NCAA athletic games for men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, as well as provide a venue for concerts, banquets, speakers and commencement.

Luoma Design Solutions, luomadesign. com, modeled the building design by creating 2-D shop drawings and a 3-D model that works in conjunction with the shop drawings. Additionally, the firm conducted BIM coordination and management with all trades working with the model. This includes coordinating termination and transition points between different trades, ensuring seamless transitions, according to company officials.

All trades involved with the project were required to create a model so coordination between them could be seen from a 3-D point of view. BIM was used initially to create the models for clash detection. Once the software found each clash, the involved trades would meet offline to coordinate and correct the clashes and update their models, Brandon Boris, senior designer, innovative model design leader, Luoma Design, explains

While these frequent collaborative meetings help to move the project through the construction phase, Luoma remains very involved. “With the 3-D model, we were required to be involved with weekly Webex conference calls during the clash detection phase of the project,” says Boris. “Using BIM, any clashes that potentially could have occurred once out on site can be detected visually in the design phase and resolved in the office, thus preventing cost and scheduling issues for the project.”

The UMBC project features both sloped and curved exterior façade walls that require detailed accuracy, in part to avoid clashes with other trades involved on the project. “We were able to accomplish this within a 3-D environment prior to any fabrication or construction, which was crucial for this project,” says Boris.

Specifically, at the sloped curtain wall on the north elevation of the building, the transition between the curtain wall and the surrounding exterior metal panel system clashed.

“The rough opening is located both vertically and horizontally, due to requirements of the alignment of panel joints with mullion locations," says Boris. "Given the sloped curtain wall and the non-typical metal panel planes at the head and sill, the 3-D model became the only way to confirm the two systems would terminate correctly. Using the 3-D model opened a new form of communication between trades that ensured proper installation of the products.”

The event center's façade system consists of approximately 2,000 square feet of YCW 750OG curtain wall, incorporating a custom 8-inch deep decorative face cover in frames that tilt outward above the main entrance area, manufactured by YKK AP America, Additionally, there are approximately 7,800 square feet of YKK AP 6-inch deep, front set YES 60TU storefront, and 21 pairs and 13 single 50-meter wide, heavy duty monumental doors to handle the high traffic volume. The curtain wall is finished in Moondust, and the storefront is finished in Silver Gray, from PPG Industries,

J.E. Berkowitz,, fabricated the insulating glass units. Using Guardian Industries,, SunGuard SNX 62/27 glass, JEB fabricated 1-inch IGUs with ¼-inch clear glass and translucent white PVB interlayer.

YKK AP was heavily involved from the early stages of the UMBC project, during the shop drawing and BIM coordination meetings. The design team provided drawing, engineering and BIM modeling assistance for the facade system.

"The integration of the curtain wall to the perimeter substrates is typically the most critical area to coordinate," says Richard Cobb, YKK AP project manager. "The inverted sloped curtain wall areas required careful coordination to ensure proper anchor attachments could be achieved."

Cannon Design,, is the UMBC event center architect. Barton Malow Co.,, is the general contractor. Zephyr Aluminum LLC,, installed the glazing systems.

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