Attempts At Transparency
Natural light—it’s at the very top of the wish list of every single tenant and landlord we sit in a meeting with. And for great reasons. Countless studies have touted the benefits, both psychological and physiological, of daylight. Among them are higher levels of concentration, better short-term memory and an improved mood for the workers who frequent these spaces. And, in the end, I don’t think I’ll get much pushback when I say that seeing the light of day is simply aesthetically pleasing. Even the very best interior design cannot compete with the beauty of a blue sky, blooming trees and sweeping views. The writing is on the (glass) wall. Solid is out; glass is in.
One way to make the most of the open, airy vibe clients universally long for is to incorporate glass into the design. While the number of perimeter offices in most spaces is indeed declining, and those lend themselves naturally to floor-to-ceiling windows that let light in, glass is an exceptionally great option for interior offices and other partitions—as well as for senior executives and HR departments clamoring for good acoustics for private conversations. Luckily for us, there has been an explosion in the variety of glass partitioning solutions on the market helping us to tailor the right product for each client’s needs and budget.
Yes, even the C-suite and HR team want to glean the light, while still feeling connected to their assistant, junior executives or others within the wider, more open spaces. A layer of glass, with the correct thickness for the occupant’s use, can make that happen. Heights can be customized to denote fully private versus semi-private spaces or a combination of sizes can be employed to add interest. The partitions can be designed to be structural, going right up to the ceiling with soaring heights, or halfway. Here’s where cost comes into play. Most of the glass walls you see in a typical office are clear, ranging from eight to nine feet tall, with some sort of soffit for support. Double layers are available, along with seamless seals, but cost more. That increased price tag is worth the investment for many tenants and landlords if the space is being used for confidential conversations.
Glass partitions can also add style to a space. They can be connected to an electric switch to allow the glass to go from clear to a milky tone. The ionization process can change the environment at a flip of a discretely placed switch. To keep the cost in check, this premium option can be used to highlight areas such as a formal conference room frequented by clients or for a boardroom. The use of these ionized glass walls allows for privacy, while still providing the opportunity to let natural light in. Blinds or roller shades can also be integrated into the electrical work, allowing occupants to flip that same switch when private meetings are in session.
Not to be forgotten is the role glass plays in lobbies, new facades and storefronts. A great deal of research goes into finding just the right glass to add beauty, functionality and light into new, soon-to-be renovated and existing exteriors. Among the considerations is how the degree of light that comes through contributes to heating and cooling—a concern for interior occupants as well that ought to be studied at detail.
In addition to improving the look of the space, embracing natural light can also pay off for landlords and tenants in the form of LEED credits. These make an attractive choice even more so.
So, what’s next for glass? Even more beautiful options, including imported systems that are transforming glass as we know it today by bettering both the quality and look, competing with systems manufactured locally, ones that contractors are building to spec or those being sold through furniture dealers. Clear, patterned, fabric- blended, etched, full-panel, half-height or somewhere in between. Single pane, double thickness, clear or milky, electric-ready or not. There’s an attractive option for every user and every project … and even more are on the way!