Archive for February, 2024

The Essential Conversation: Building Movements and Glazing Systems

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In the intricate dance of construction and design, there’s a conversation that’s often whispered, sometimes silenced, but always crucial: the dialogue about building movements and their impact on glazing systems. It’s a chat that, despite its technical veneer, boils down to a simple truth—buildings move, and we need to talk about it.

Why We Can’t Just “Keep Things Moving”

It’s tempting, isn’t it? To keep the project rolling, avoid complex questions, and hope for the best. But here’s the catch—buildings aren’t static. They sway with the wind, expand with the heat, and shift with the load. And while it’s easy to assume these movements are minimal, the reality for glazing systems can be far from it.

Ignoring building movements isn’t just overly optimistic; it’s a gamble with high stakes. It’s like expecting a tightrope walker to perform without acknowledging the wind—risky, at best. Engineers who dive deep into these considerations aren’t being overly cautious; they’re being smart, ensuring that the beauty and functionality of glass facades endure the test of time and nature.

The Technical Talk: How Much Movement Are We Dealing With?


Tubelite 4500 Series Storefront Framing

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Typical stick-built storefront systems are like the rigid characters in our story—they don’t take kindly to movement. [Tubelite 4500 Series Storefront Framing shown to the right] With no head receptors, they’re pretty much set in their ways. But introduce a head receptor, and they begin to show some flexibility, accommodating up to about ½ inch of movement.

Curtain wall systems, on the other hand, are the more adaptable characters. Simply supported systems, with their trusty T/F anchors, can technically handle up to 2 inches of movement. But, let’s be real, no one’s keen on caulking a 4-inch head joint. So, in practice, we’re looking at about ½ inch before things start to look…well, unsightly.


Tubelite Curtain Wall System Example

And what about when we want to push the boundaries further? Or need to dead-load our frames directly to the floors themselves? Enter expansion horizontals. These nifty additions to curtain walls are like the secret passages in a castle, allowing for more movement while keeping everything gracefully intact. They’re our ace in the hole, enabling us to design with more freedom and less worry. However, the design team needs to accept a change to the aesthetics of the system.

Expansion Horizontals

Expansion Horizontals

The Conversation We Need to Have

So, why aren’t we talking about this more? It’s time to bring this conversation from the whispers of the construction site to the forefront of our planning meetings. Architects, engineers, glaziers—we all need to be in on this. Understanding the dance of building movements and designing glazing systems that can move with the rhythm is not just smart; it’s essential.

We need to challenge the notion that addressing these issues is an exercise in caution. It’s an exercise in responsibility. By asking the tough questions early, we’re not slowing down the project; we’re safeguarding its future.

The Structural Ballet: Dancing with L/360

Understanding the structural ballet of our buildings is key. Many structural engineers design with an L/360 criterion, a standard that, while robust, presents its own set of challenges for glazing systems. Take a 30-foot beam, for instance, which under this criterion can experience up to an inch of deflection. Accommodating this in glazing systems is no small feat.

What is the L/360 Rule?

The L/360 rule is a guideline used in structural engineering to determine the maximum allowable deflection in a beam or structural member. This rule helps ensure that structures are both strong and flexible enough to support expected loads without excessive bending or deflection, which could cause damage to the structure or its finishes.

“L” in L/360 stands for the span length of the beam or structural member, which is the distance between two points of support, such as the length of a beam between two columns. The “360” is a constant that represents a fraction of the span length.

To apply the L/360 rule, you divide the span length by 360. The result gives you the maximum allowable deflection for that span. For example, if you have a beam with a span of 18 feet (or 216 inches), the maximum allowable deflection under live load (temporary load such as people, furniture, wind, snow, etc.) would be 216 inches / 360 = 0.6 inches. This means that under the maximum expected live load, the center of the beam should not deflect (sag) more than 0.6 inches.


This is where the specificity of RFIs (Requests for Information) becomes paramount. It’s not enough to work with theoretical worst-case scenarios. The RFIs need to demand the actual calculated deflection, giving glaziers the precise data they need to avoid over-engineering with unnecessarily large caulk joints or superfluous components.

When it comes to the L/360 rule, keep this in mind. The “360” in the L/360 rule is not a fixed value and can be adjusted based on the required tolerance for a specific project. For instances where a tighter tolerance is necessary, the divisor can be increased, such as L/600, to allow for less deflection and a more rigid structural support. Conversely, for applications where greater flexibility is permissible, the divisor might be lowered, reflecting the project’s specific needs and ensuring optimal balance between strength and flexibility.

Contractual Obligations

Addressing building movement is not just a matter of best practice; it’s often a formal requirement embedded within the delegated design specifications of a project. Specifically, when it comes to glazing systems, these specifications detail the necessary accommodations for building movements, ensuring that the systems are designed with the flexibility and resilience needed to withstand the dynamic forces at play.

Listed in many common performance requirements are failures that the delegated design engineer must review and address when analyzing the actual building movement: Thermal stresses transferring to the building structure, glass breakage, loosening or weakening of fasteners, attachments, and other components, and failure of operating units.

This requirement underscores the importance of a collaborative approach, where architects, engineers, and glaziers align their expertise to meet the precise demands of the project, turning challenges into opportunities for innovation and structural harmony.

Empowering Construction: Education, Collaboration, and the Future of Glazing Systems

As we wrap up our discussion, it’s clear that education and collaboration stand as the cornerstone of navigating the complexities of building movements and glazing systems. Bridging the gap between the theoretical knowledge imparted in architecture schools and the practical expertise of engineers and builders is paramount. We must foster an environment where architects, engineers, and glaziers are not only aware of the limitations and capabilities of glazing systems but are also equipped to address these challenges creatively and effectively.

In this light, LearnGlazing.com emerges as an invaluable resource for professionals across the construction and design spectrum. It offers comprehensive training tools designed to enhance understanding and competency in dealing with the nuances of glazing systems. By leveraging such resources, companies can ensure their teams are well-prepared to engage with the technical demands of modern construction projects, turning potential obstacles into opportunities for innovation.


The necessity of integrating education with practical application cannot be overstated. It’s not just about asking the tough questions or adhering to stringent design specifications; it’s about fostering a culture of ongoing learning and collaboration. This approach not only safeguards the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of our buildings but also ensures that they can gracefully withstand the test of time and nature.

So, let’s move beyond merely standing tall on day one. Let’s aim for our glass facades to continue reflecting the sky, framing the views, and inspiring awe for years to come. This journey begins with a crucial conversation about building movements—a dialogue that is now more accessible and actionable than ever before, thanks to platforms like LearnGlazing.com. Let’s talk, let’s learn, and let’s build better, together.

This is why we can't, "just keep things moving".

Navigating Shop Drawings for All Project Sizes | LearnGlazing.com

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In the realm of architectural glazing and construction, the pivotal role and complexity of shop drawings often go underestimated. These indispensable components of construction documentation dramatically vary in detail and scope, adeptly serving projects as varied as a modest storefront to a majestic skyscraper. Our enlightening YouTube video delves into the diverse levels of shop drawings, highlighting the critical importance of discerning these differences for the triumphant execution of your project.

The Critical Role of Shop Drawings

Shop drawings stand as the foundational blueprint for the manufacturing, fabrication, and installation of construction elements, encapsulating the intricate details of glass and glazing work. These drawings are vital for the flawless translation of design intent into a concrete structure. Unlike the conventional one-size-fits-all notion, entities like MP Drafting extend customized solutions that resonate with the unique demands of a broad spectrum of projects, a feature prominently showcased in our video.

Customized Solutions from Small to Large-Scale Endeavors

For ventures on the smaller side, aiming to revitalize a storefront, the extensive and costly shop drawings might not be a requisite. MP Drafting’s Quick Draw program, featured in our video, offers just the right amount of crucial details tailored for such modest projects. These drawings concentrate on the essential elements—layout, dimensions, and specifications of storefront components, ensuring precision and clarity without burdening the project with surplus information.

In contrast, grand-scale projects like skyscrapers or hospitals necessitate a more detailed approach to shop drawings. The Special Projects Group, as our video discusses, renders exhaustive documentation indispensable for these intricate constructions. This detailed approach is essential for general contractors to manage the complex dynamics of large-scale constructions, enabling the seamless coordination and integration of diverse project elements.

The Significance of Detail in Shop Drawings

The variance in shop drawing levels primarily lies in the degree of detail they incorporate. While smaller projects may only require a succinct set of drawings, larger ventures might demand detailed documentation that covers every facet of the construction. Our video provides a vivid illustration of this disparity with examples from MP Drafting, elucidating how project size influences the scope and detail of shop drawings.

Optimizing Your Project with the Ideal Detail Level

Grasping the subtleties of shop drawings and opting for the right level of detail can markedly influence the efficiency and success of your construction project. Our YouTube video further explores this subject, offering visual exemplars and expert insights to underscore the importance of selecting a drafting service that precisely aligns with your project’s specific needs.


Shop drawings are instrumental in the construction process, serving as a meticulous guide to transmute architectural visions into reality. With solutions available for projects of any size, recognizing the required level of detail is crucial to circumvent unnecessary expenses and guarantee project success. We cordially invite you to view our video on this topic, where we dissect the various levels of shop drawings and their applicability to differing project requirements. By understanding these distinctions, you ensure your forthcoming project is furnished with the exact documentation needed to actualize your architectural designs.

Remember to like, subscribe, and follow our updates for further insights into the glass and glazing universe. We eagerly anticipate sharing more invaluable content in our future videos.

shop drawings project scale

L/360 Rule: Ensuring the Integrity of Glazing Systems in Building Design

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The L/360 rule is a critical guideline in structural engineering, dictating the maximum allowable deflection for a beam or structural member under load. This rule ensures that structures are robust enough to support expected loads without excessive bending or deflection, which could compromise the structure’s integrity or aesthetic appeal.

In the context of L/360, “L” represents the span length of the beam or structural member, essentially the distance between two points of support, like the length of a beam between two columns. The “360” denotes a divisor, establishing a fraction of the span that determines the maximum permissible deflection. For example, if a beam spans 18 feet (or 216 inches), applying the L/360 rule (216 inches / 360) calculates to a maximum allowable deflection of 0.6 inches under live load conditions, such as people, furniture, or snow.

L360 Rule

Importance to Glazing Systems and Building Movement

The L/360 rule’s significance extends into the realm of glazing systems and their design within modern buildings. Glazing systems, including windows, curtain walls, and storefronts, are not merely aesthetic features; they play a crucial role in a building’s environmental control, lighting, and energy efficiency. However, these systems are inherently less flexible than other structural components, making them more susceptible to damage from excessive deflection or building movement.

Incorporating the L/360 rule into the design of glazing systems is essential for several reasons:

  1. Preventing Glass Damage: Glass is a brittle material that can suffer from cracks or breakage when subjected to undue stress or deformation. By adhering to the L/360 rule, engineers can limit the deflection of structural supports for glazing systems, thereby reducing stress on the glass components.
  2. Maintaining Seal Integrity: Many glazing systems rely on seals and gaskets to prevent water and air infiltration. Excessive deflection can compromise these seals, leading to leaks, drafts, and decreased energy efficiency. By ensuring deflection limits are within acceptable ranges, the integrity of seals is preserved.
  3. Aesthetic Considerations: Visible bending or sagging in the structural elements supporting glazing systems can be unappealing, detracting from the building’s overall appearance. Compliance with the L/360 rule helps maintain the intended architectural lines and aesthetics.
  4. Operational Functionality: For operable windows and doors, excessive deflection can hinder proper functioning, making them difficult to open or close. By controlling deflection, the smooth operation of these components is assured.

Given the interplay between building movements, structural integrity, and the performance of glazing systems, the L/360 rule becomes a linchpin in ensuring that the entire system works harmoniously. It allows architects and engineers to design buildings that not only meet aesthetic and functional requirements but also adhere to safety standards, ensuring that glazing systems remain effective and durable over the life of the building. This holistic approach to design, considering both structural and architectural elements, underscores the importance of the L/360 rule in the successful integration of glazing systems within modern construction.

The High-Stakes Game of Training: A Super Bowl Tale with a Twist for the Glass and Glazing Industry

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In the gridiron of professional football, just like in the precise and demanding field of glass and glazing, every play, every strategy, and every bit of knowledge counts. Let’s talk about a recent Super Bowl, where the Kansas City Chiefs clinched victory from the San Francisco 49ers. The spotlight isn’t just on the athleticism displayed but shines brightly on the strategic edge gained through knowledge—specifically, the understanding of the NFL’s new playoff overtime rules.

The Tale of Two Teams and Their Preparation

On one side, you had the Chiefs, led by the phenomenal Patrick Mahomes, who connected with Mecole Hardman for the winning touchdown. This wasn’t just a moment of athletic brilliance; it was a culmination of preparation, where every player knew the rulebook inside out. Justin Reid, a safety for the Chiefs, mentioned how the team had been talking about the rule change all year. They knew exactly what was at stake with every toss of the coin.

Contrast this with the 49ers. Kyle Juszczyk, the team’s fullback, and Arik Armstead, a key defensive lineman, openly admitted post-game their surprise at the overtime rules. The realization that both teams were guaranteed possession in overtime was news to them, a crucial piece of information that perhaps could have influenced the game’s outcome differently.

The High Cost of Missing Information

Imagine, in the highly specialized world of glass and glazing, if a team was unaware of a new installation technique or a recently updated safety regulation. The parallel here is unmistakable. The cost isn’t just in potential losses in efficiency or safety incidents but in the missed opportunities to lead and innovate.

Training as Your MVP

The Chiefs’ approach to the game, where strategic knowledge was as crucial as physical preparation, mirrors what should be the gold standard in our industry. Ongoing training ensures that every team member, from the project manager to the technician on the ground, is not just familiar with current best practices but is also ahead of the curve on emerging trends and regulations.

The Ripple Effect of Knowledge

What we learn from the Chiefs’ victory goes beyond just the importance of being well-prepared. It’s about creating a culture where knowledge is shared, valued, and applied. In the glass and glazing industry, fostering such an environment means not only avoiding costly errors but also pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with glass as a material.

Wrapping Up with a Winning Strategy

In wrapping up this insightful journey from the football field to the dynamic world of glass and glazing, it’s evident that the key to unlocking true potential, innovation, and success lies in continuous learning and adaptation. The story of the Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl LVIII, powered by their comprehensive understanding of the rules, serves as a powerful reminder of the value of knowledge and preparation.

This is where LearnGlazing.com steps in as your premier partner in growth and expertise. We invite you to join our community of forward-thinking professionals by signing up for free at LearnGlazing.com. Here, you’ll gain access to an extensive library of resources, tutorials, and courses designed specifically for the glass and glazing industry. Whether you’re looking to stay ahead of regulatory changes, master new installation techniques, or simply enhance your team’s performance, LearnGlazing.com is your gateway to excellence.

Don’t let your team be caught off guard by the ever-evolving landscape of the industry. Embrace the power of knowledge and training with LearnGlazing.com. Sign up today for free and begin your journey towards becoming an industry leader, ready to tackle any challenge with confidence and expertise. Let’s make every opportunity count, just like the Chiefs did. Your championship moment awaits!

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