AIA 2023: Developing Products with an Eye Toward Ease of Installation

Construction is a dance among trades as contractors come and go throughout the jobsite. This organized chaos can potentially damage existing product installations, including glass doors. As such, extra steps must be taken to protect products that have already been installed.

C.R. Laurence (CRL) has noticed and developed a modular glass door rail system that deconstructs a standard door rail to offer greater control over when, where and how door rails are installed. The added flexibility and customization benefit both the owner and the glazier, says David Martiny, CRL’s vice president of product management.

C.R. Laurence has developed a modular glass door rail system that deconstructs a standard door rail to offer greater control over when, where and how door rails are installed.

The rail system was displayed at the American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture 2023 (A’23) this past week in San Francisco. The annual architecture Expo hosted more than 500 architecture, glass, glazing, metal and software companies at the Moscone Center.

Martiny says traditional door rails typically are fixed with one aluminum body at the glass edge.

“Some of the problems with that are when you have a specific doorway, which happens quite regularly, you have a lead time because you need to manufacture the doorway specifically for that glass size,” he explains. “You also have the risk of the doorway being damaged during construction. Sometimes, the door is installed early to block access to the site, but then there are a lot of trades that need to get in that always risk damaging the doorway.”

That’s a problem if the main access point is the front door, adds Martiny. The door needs to be spotless when the building opens. The modular door rail allows glaziers to place clamps at the shop, install the door and then add the fascia once the project is complete, ensuring a pristine product at the finish.

“A modular door rail ensures that all the trades can go through the door without damaging its profile,” says Martiny.

Frameless Hardware Company (FHC) is also interested in improving the installation process. The glass and glazing manufacturer displayed its shims and setting blocks at A’23. The shims lock glass in place, all the while making it easier to detach, allowing glaziers to remove and replace the glass easily.

Jose Quiñones, FHC’s architectural railing brand manager, says before dry systems were around, glaziers had to pour concrete to set everything in place.

“You can imagine if the glass breaks, glaziers had to break the glass and hammer out concrete,” he says. “With a system like this, it’s completely dry glazed. The shims are just as strong as cement.”

Additional A’23 show content includes the Finishing Trades Institute tour hosted by District Council 16 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. You can also read how digitalization is changing how the construction industry operates.

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