Contributed by Al Eini
The Basics: Maintain Aesthetics, Ensure Safety
Life safety and egress are critical considerations in every building so it comes as no surprise that panic devices play a significant role in the design and installation of entrance systems. Panic devices come in several styles for various door types. With all-glass entrances growing in popularity, however, tubular panic devices are being specified more frequently, particularly in high-end applications. These elegant systems offer maximum transparency and a contemporary look.
Although panic hardware is nothing new, tubular panics and glass doors present unique challenges. For example, all of the mechanics of a standard panic need to be concealed in a sleeker, more attractive design while meeting safety standards. Issues with glass templates and sizing, and hardware compatibility can arise.
For successful tubular panic handle and glass door installations, key hardware and overall entrance design considerations must be taken into account, as well as specification criteria that will ensure door openings comply with life safety codes. Overcoming the challenges associated with tubular panics will lead to safe and secure all-glass entrances that meet the design intent.
First, Know the Code
Both the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code require panic devices to be listed in accordance with UL 305 – Standard for Panic Hardware. The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) also has its own standard for panic hardware: ANSI/BHMA A156.3 – Exit Devices.
IBC and NFPA 101 panic device requirements apply to most jurisdictions. According to the IBC, panic devices are required on doors when Assembly Occupancies have a load of 50 or more people; Educational Occupancies have a load of 50 or more people; and when High Hazard Occupancies have any occupant load.
NFPA 101 requires panic devices on doors where Assembly Occupancies have a load of 100 or more people; Educational Occupancies have a load of 100 or more people; Day Care Occupancies have a load of 100 or more people; and where High Hazard Occupancies have a load of 5 or more people.
Other key code requirements include:
Be aware that there are often exceptions, and every jurisdiction adopts specific code requirements for panic hardware. That’s why it’s very important to consult the Authority Having Jurisdiction early on in the project. Failing to do so can lead to compliance issues, which translates to costly and time-consuming reworks.
Contributed by Joe Schiavone
(Editor's note: While addressed to glaziers, this article is ideal for any building product representative or manufacturer)
Substitution Requests are prevalent in construction projects of all scales. They offer several benefits to glazing contractors, such as helping them win a job; however, there is a right way and a wrong way to submit them.
A firm understanding of the procedures involved in Substitution Requests can increase the likelihood of the product being accepted, and of repeat business as a result of building a favorable reputation. With architects facing increasingly tight schedules, the submitter should be aware that the odds of success often depend on how clear and concise the Substitution Request is.
Substitution Requests are simply proposed changes in products, equipment, and/or methods of construction from those that are specified by the architect. Nearly every project—regardless of project delivery method—encounters product substitutions so opportunities are abundant.
The most opportune time in the project lifecycle to submit a Substitution Request is during the bid phase when the general contractor is seeking out a glazing contractor. This creates a level playing field amongst bidders. It's possible to submit a Substitution Request during construction, but the process can be more complicated and should only be pursued when certain issues arise such as material unavailability, excessive lead times, or a change in code requirements.
There are several scenarios where substitutions are practical and feasible. CSI's Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide identifies key areas in which a Substitution Request should be reviewed. They include:
The substitution should add value and present clear advantages to the architect, and ultimately the owner, if it's to be approved. It must also be equal or superior to the specified product, and cannot adversely impact the project cost or schedule.
When submitting a Substitution Request, glazing contractors and product manufacturers should work directly with the bidding general contractor. Not doing so can be detrimental to the team dynamic and slow the project's progress. Although contacting the architect is possible, you risk immediate rejection. You also risk building a detrimental reputation for not following established protocol, which can cost you future work.
In some cases, a designer without formal Contract Document training writes the specifications. They may also be written in haste because of rushed schedules. This means that an experienced glazing contractor has more opportunities to spot potential conflicts that are overlooked, and suggest substitutions that will improve quality or reduce risk.
Contributed by Elias Saltz
There is some misunderstanding, both inside the profession and among the population at large, about what architecture is and what architects do. The misunderstanding begins with popular cultural depictions of architects, both fictional and real, as iconoclastic visionaries who wave their hands around, making beautiful buildings appear - buildings that will be immortalized in the glossy pages of magazines and hardcover coffee table books. This image of the architect is being reinforced by modern home improvement shows like "Fixer Upper" in which the designer and builder are the primary on-air personalities and it only takes one hour to buy, design and renovate an entire house. It's also being reinforced, unfortunately, in architecture schools, where professors are teaching aspiring architects to think of their designs as grand conceptual gestures and to equate architecture with culinary arts and fashion design, but not to anticipate what working as an architect will really be like.
Architects are taught in school that what they want to design matters, and little is discussed about client expectations, except that in the case of design studios, the clients are the professors. Architects learn to please other architects to ensure the best critique, grade and peer recognition. That peer recognition extends into professional life, where architects look to have their work published in journals juried by other architects.
This is obviously a wrong approach. Architecture is a professional service. Most architects come to understand this fact as they move up the ranks of practice. When you look in the offices of real architecture firms today, you don't see Joanna Gaines or Howard Roark (perish the thought!) or Bobby Flay. You see people who are working hard, using their knowledge and experience and skill to design projects on behalf of their clients. But habits of hand-wavy thinking remain, embedded through the architect-as-chef idea, where big ideas matter and where a silver cover is whipped off a plate, revealing the delectable and beautiful creation hidden within (or, similarly, posterboards on wheels that depict the "before" condition are pulled apart to reveal the hour-of-TV creation), and that is why architects sometimes think that their beliefs matter more than those of their clients.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard ‘I’m too busy’ in my 30 years in the AEC Industry, I would be a very rich woman. Very rich!
According to AIA Best Practices “Quality Control: Managing the Top 5 Risks”
“No matter how desirable a program of in-house loss prevention might be, such a program will not function if it imposes unrealistic burdens or unobtainable goals. It must, therefore, be implemented with little or no increase in general overhead expenses.”
This original article was published by Schinnerer & Co. in 1973. Since that time, the five areas within architecture practice that most frequently give rise to claims have remained the same.
Seriously? 45 YEARS and we still haven’t found a way to knock these items off the list. Why? Because we are too busy! Sorry, sounds like an excuse (and a poor one) to me.
In my humble opinion, we have to make the time. We can’t afford not to. In the long run we make it up tenfold in the often challenging construction phase of the project.
In my experience, most design contracts are front loaded. Most of the fees are received by the design team by the end of construction documents. The construction phase portion of the fee (typically 20% to 25%) is spread over the length of the construction period. This can be a long time to break up a very small portion of the fee. Most design firms can’t financially survive unless they have projects in design at the same time they have projects in construction. There is just not enough money coming in during construction to pay the bills.
Anyone in this business who has been around for a while will know this. Yet, we continue to operate in way that expose us to this risk. Why? I will go out on a limb with this one and say it is because it is easier to do what we have always done rather than find new methods. Change is hard, it takes work and nobody has time to learn to do it a different way. At least that is the excuse I hear.
If you haven’t read a blog from me before, you should know I have worked for a general contractor, an MEP engineering firm and now for an architecture firm. The short story is that I have seen these issues from multiple viewpoints.
Some of my personal observations on these items of risk:
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Eighteen months ago, a random conversation on a Tuesday afternoon between Cherise Lakeside and myself went like this:
Me: "Seemingly few are committed to speak their mind or try to fix the broken system that is construction. You do a damn fine job of breaking that mold and trying to help this industry."
Cherise: "Thank you. The key, I think, is speaking your mind in a productive and positive way with some solutions in hand. Everyone just wants to be negative and bitch about things. I try to only stir the pots that need stirring."
Me: "You are so right. A problem is everyone acts like their own island and the destination rescue is each their own issue and not working together on being rescued. I pretty much just 'Survivored' the construction industry."
Cherise: "Ha, ha! Exactly. We need to pull people out of their comfort zones and make them open their eyes. This is way too much of a "me" society as it is."
Me: "So, perhaps a member from each seat at the table who can feature their respective perception and potential solutions. We can register a domain like letsfixconstruction.com"
That's the truth. I have the actual conversation and those are exact quotes.
It struck me this past Friday, February 16th, that Let's Fix Construction was a year & a half old. If you had told me eighteen months ago what the last 550 days were going to be like, I would have laughed out loud.
As a way to look back on these first months of Let's Fix Construction, we're going to take the next week to share and revisit every article that we've posted along the way, starting at number one. We'll be sharing these posts on social media. Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
We've gained dozens of contributors, thousands of readers and now listeners, thanks to the Let's Fix Construction podcast, and didn't want to lose sight at what we started with and shared in the last year and a half.
As always, if you would like to share your knowledge and contribute a forward-thinking concept to a construction-related issue, dispel a myth or just provide a solution for a better built environment, please contact us and let us know.
And without further ado, our very first post on the Let's Fix Construction blog, written by yours truly, 'The Fifth C of CSI: Collaboration'
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
Get blog post notifications here