Author Archives: CS Editor

Green building standard now available

The 2014 edition of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), contains new requirements on reducing the energy and environmental impacts of buildings. ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES 189.1-2014, Standard for the Design of High-performance, Green Buildings Except Low-rise Residential Buildings, addresses sustainability, water-use efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and a structure’s impact on the atmosphere, materials, and resources. New elements to this version include revised building envelope provisions, fenestration orientation requirements, Energy Star references, and continuous air barrier guidelines. To order a copy, visit

Departing architect taking credit for work at prior firm


Werner Sabo, FAIA, CSI, and James K. Zahn, FAIA, CSI

A recent federal case addressed a common question arising among design firms: What use can a departing employee make of designs created while at a prior firm? In Gensler v. Strabala, the large international architectural firm filed suit in federal court against its former design director. Strabala left M. Arthur Gensler & Associates to form 2Define Architecture. On his new firm’s website, he stated he had designed five projects for which Gensler is the architect of record:
● Shanghai Tower;
● Hess Tower;
● Three Eldridge Place;
● Houston Ballet Center for Dance; and
● Tesoro Corporation’s headquarters.

Gensler alleged Strabala had violated the Lanham Act by making a false designation of design services. Specifically, Gensler contended he made a “false or misleading representation of fact” (his role in designing the five buildings) that is “likely to … deceive as to the … connection or association of such person [Strabala] with another person [Gensler]” and to deceive clients about the “origin” of the designs.

The trial court dismissed the suit on the basis the Lanham Act’s applicable provision applied only to “goods,” but not to “services” such as architectural design services. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that services are indeed, covered by that act and a claim for “reverse passing off” does state a cause of action. The case was sent back to the trial court where it will proceed from the point it had been dismissed earlier.

The discussion by the appellate court is interesting. First, it noted this case does not involve copyright because a false claim of authorship, without the making of copies, is outside the scope of copyright law. Next, the court examined whether Gensler has a tenable claim at all. It noted the claim amounts to a charge of fraud. The complaint, however, is short on particulars of what constitutes such fraud. It notes there appear to be three possible ways in which an architect’s assertion he or she designed a building could be false:

1. The architect did not have anything to do with the design, never having worked on the project.
2. The architect worked on the project, but overstated his or her role. For example, the architect may have designed some of a building’s details, but not its basic appearance or attributes.
3. The architect worked on the project and contributed some or even all important features, but the project was so complex no one person bore full responsibility.

The complaint does not allege either of the first two possibilities. Instead, it appears to rely on the third possibility—that buildings are team jobs no single person designs. This argument, however, leaves the question of what statement of Strabala was false. No such false statement is apparent, as would be required by a complaint brought under the Lanham Act. The court came close to ordering the dismissal of the case by affirming the trial court’s dismissal, although on different grounds. However, because the facts were not fully developed in the trial court, the possibility remains Gensler could allege some statement that is false, leaving the door open to further litigation. Thus, the case was reversed on the very narrow ground the Lanham Act does apply to services, contrary to the trial court’s ruling it does only to goods.

What does this mean to the average architect? For a designer leaving to go to a new firm, truth is required. A false statement about what the architect’s role was on the project could result in a lawsuit with a significant judgment. Truthful statements would likely result in a win. Of course, the departing architect does not want to be named in a lawsuit. Keeping the relationship on a professional level would certainly help. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Guidelines for the Attribution of Credit offer support for situations such as this. This document cites to two “Rules of Conduct:”

Rule 4.201: Members shall not make misleading, deceptive, or false statements or claims about their professional qualifications, experience, or performance, and shall accurately state the scope and nature of their responsibilities in connection with work for which they are claiming credit.

Rule 5.301: Members shall recognize and respect the professional contributions of their employees, employers, professional colleagues, and business associates.

Two “Ethical Standards” are also cited:

Ethical Standard 4.2 Dignity and Integrity: Members should strive, through their actions, to promote the dignity and integrity of the profession, and to ensure that their representatives and employees conform their conduct to this Code.

Ethical Standard 5.3 Professional Recognition: Members should build their professional reputation on the merits of their own service and performance and should recognize and give credit to others for the professional work they have performed.

At the heart of the AIA’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is the admonition architects should be truthful. This includes stating a former employer was the architect for a particular project and a truthful description of the architect’s contribution to that project. An agreement between a departing architect and employer as to what documents (e.g. renderings or photos) the architect can use (and how) would facilitate the transition and lessen the possibility of litigation.

Werner Sabo, FAIA, CSI, and James K. Zahn, FAIA, CSI, are architects, attorneys, and partners in the Chicago law firm of Sabo & Zahn. Both are resource members of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) National Documents Committee. They can be reached, respectively, at and

More Great Walls of Fire

Fire-rated curtain walls for exterior separations
by Jeff Razwick


A fire-rated curtain wall provides lot line protection in a dense city. All images courtesy TGP

As shown in this author’s previous article, fire-rated walls typically stand guard inside buildings, ready to compartmentalize fires from within at any moment. As urban density and demand for daylight and visibility in the building envelope increase, these assemblies are also proving valuable for a growing number of exterior applications.

Fire-rated curtain walls can prevent a fire from traveling to or from neighboring buildings without restricting visibility. Unlike gypsum, masonry, and other opaque fire-rated materials, this multi-functionality can bring fire and life safety goals in line with the aesthetic design intent where building codes deem the threat of fire is significant from adjacent construction.

For design professionals evaluating when to use the assembly in the building envelope, it can be helpful to look at situations where it can benefit exterior separations with fire safety requirements.

Property line protection

As it becomes more efficient to build upward and closer together in cities to accommodate growing populations, property line setbacks are narrowing. This is generating an increase in the number of buildings required to use fire-rated materials as exterior separations—a safeguard building codes typically only require for structures in close proximity to each other.

Generally, lot line protection is required when a building is close to its neighbor, regardless of whether that adjacent structure is on the same lot. To provide clarity on this requirement, building codes specify the horizontal separation distances requiring fire-rated materials. For example, see International Building Code (IBC) Sections 705.5 and 705.8. In Section 705.3, IBC uses an imaginary line to determine whether buildings on the same piece of property are in close proximity to each other.

Where codes deem it is necessary to protect against the spread of fire between buildings, fire-rated curtain walls make it possible to do so while maintaining visibility and light. For example, they can provide lot line protection without sacrificing light transfer. Well-designed fire-rated curtain walls can even extend the surface area through which light can transfer to help illuminate a building’s core and better support green building goals. Some fire-rated curtain walls are available with fire-rated insulated glass units (IGUs) incorporating tinted or low-emissivity (low-e) glass for more efficient solar energy management, while taking advantage of daylighting techniques.

Transparent fire protection

Opaque fire-rated materials like gypsum and masonry can satisfy property line requirements and provide compartmentalization for both exterior and interior spaces. The downside is they restrict light transfer and visibility. Fire-rated glass curtain walls can serve as a clear alternative given their heat blocking characteristics; specifically, their classification as fire-resistance-rated wall construction.

Fire-rated curtain walls are tested to ASTM E119, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 263, Fire-resistance Ratings. Receiving classification as non-directional fire-resistance-rated construction (meaning they can maintain the same fire-rating from both sides) rather than an “opening protective,” they can exceed 25 percent of the total wall area to provide transparency from the outside where fire and life safety is a concern.

Exterior cladding performance criteria

The air and water penetration resistance of fire-rated steel curtain wall systems (tested per ASTM E283, Standard Test Method for Determining Rate of Air Leakage Through Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, and Doors Under Specified Pressure, at 30.47 kgf/m2 [6.24 psf] and per ASTM E331, Standard Test Method for Water Penetration of Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors, and Curtain Walls by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference, at 20 percent of design wind load, respectively) is typically better than comparable, non-rated aluminum systems. The steel profiles are protected from air and water penetration by a continuous, full-width silicone gasket mounted to the face of the profiles in the glazing pocket.

Regarding thermal performance, the increased thickness of the rated glass in fire-rated curtain walls can help reduce potential for heat flow. Where energy-efficient curtain wall design is critical to building goals, fire-rated IGU constructions allowing low-e glass to be incorporated in the ‘glass sandwich’ can further improve energy performance. As an added benefit, narrow steel frames paired with high-performance fire-rated glazing can help lower the potential for heat transfer and therefore increase condensation resistance. Simulations of the actual construction can be modeled, giving the designer the ability to know how the fire-rated curtain wall will affect the sizing of the building’s HVAC systems.

Fire-rated curtain walls with steel frames can also work in close conjunction with surrounding materials to help ensure a sound building envelope as the temperature changes. Steel’s coefficient of expansion is nearly half that of aluminum, and is similar to glass and concrete. This also reduces the size of perimeter sealant joints, especially at locations where expansion is being addressed.

Tested to ASTM E119 and UL 263, fire-rated curtain walls can provide fire protection from the outside in.

Tested to ASTM E119 and UL 263, fire-rated curtain walls can provide fire protection from the outside in.

Support for demanding applications

Industry standards for exterior curtain wall frames typically limit deflection due to wind load to L/175 or 19 mm (¾ in.)—whichever is less—for spans under 4 m (13 ½ ft), and L/240 for greater spans (where L equals the length of the span between anchor points). These standards were originally developed to prevent sealant failure of insulating glass units due to mullion deflection.

In fire-rated curtain walls, the rated glass may impose stricter limits on the framing, such as L/300. Since steel has a Modulus of Elasticity three times that of aluminum, it can more easily meet these deflection limits without increasing the system profile size. It can also reduce the need to reinforce the frame members. As a best practice, one should consider verifying deflection requirements with the glass manufacturer before accepting typical industry standards.


For all the ways fire-rated glass can enhance building design goals for interior fire separations, there is an almost equal amount of options to do the same for exterior fire-rated glazing applications. To ensure the safety of people and property while still providing a high-performance product required by specification for exterior applications, it is important aesthetic goals align with fire and life safety standards in local building codes. Where necessary, the design team can consult with the manufacturer or supplier.

Jeff Razwick Head ShotJeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings. Razwick is a past-chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). He can be contacted via e-mail at


CONSTRUCT: Charmed by Baltimore

From September 9 through 12, CSI members convened in the Charm City for CONSTRUCT. Billed by its organizers, Hanley Wood, as “the only dedicated national trade show and educational conference for the commercial building teams that spec and source building products,” the four-day event strives for the perfect blend of networking, technical education, and association business. In Baltimore, those aspects took place in the seminar rooms, on the show floor at exhibitor booths, and at special events ranging from ‘game-changer’ presentations and annual general meetings to impromptu lunches and Inner Harbor dinner cruises.

CONSTRUCT also served as the foundation for the 58th CSI Annual Convention, allowing the institute to highlight its brightest and best volunteers for the skills, knowledge, and time they have shared.

Four fine Fellows: Walter Scarborough, Ann Baker, Marc Chavez, and Jon Rao Papke. Photos © Matt Fochs

Four fine Fellows: Walter Scarborough, Ann Baker, Marc Chavez, and Jon Rao Papke. Photos © Matt Fochs

Among the many honors and awards bestowed on CSI members at the conference, ‘Distinguished Membership’ is considered the most prestigious. Conferred on those whose contributions to the construction industry go far beyond what is expected, this status has only been conferred on 44 individuals since its debut in 1954. This year, two members joined the hallowed ranks.

Alana Sunness Griffith, FCSI, Distinguished Member, CCPR, was recognized for her passionate volunteering, leadership skills, and constant pursuit of CSI’s mission and value in the industry, along with the past-president’s dedication to mentoring women in the industry. Paul W. Simonsen, RA, FCSI, Distinguished Member, CCS, CCCA, was named for his work as a teacher in CSI who continually enlightens, supports, and cheers on those around him. He was also cited for his efforts to grow CSI’s education and certification programs and technical documents.

This year also saw the induction of four new members into the College of Fellows (visit, all of whom were lauded for mentoring:
● Ann G. Baker, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA (Denver Chapter), for her long-term diligence to CSI certification practices and programs at all levels;
● Marc C. Chavez, FCSI, CCS, CCCA (Puget Sound Chapter), for efforts in developing educational programs for CSI chapters and members using distance learning technology, along with CDT ‘boot camps’ across the country;
● Jon Rao Papke, FCSI, CCS (Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter), for commitment and contributions to certification and student education programs at the chapter and regional levels; and
● Walter R. Scarborough, FCSI, CCS, CCCA (Dallas Chapter), for contributions to the many scholarly Practice Guides of CSI, which educate those seeking professional certifications.


Robb stands with Paul W. Simonsen.

Alana Sunness Griffith and Paul W. Simonsen, both with CSI immediate past-president Casey Robb, were named Distinguished Members.

Alana Sunness Griffith with CSI immediate past-president Casey Robb, was named Distinguished Members.

At the CSI Annual meeting, numerous other awards were given out. The Communications Award, bestowed on individuals or groups for publications, articles, social media, or blogs were given to numerous worthy winners. The Chicago Chapter took two honors—one for its Change Order e-newsletter and the other for its website, Similarly, Memphis was cited for its PerSPECtive newsletter and Nearby Nashville received the nod for its website,

The Allentown Chapter’s Jon C. Lattin, CSI, CCPR, and Eric C. Lussier, CSI, CDT, were also individually awarded—the former for his marketing resources and the latter for his blogs and tweets. Richard J. Lueb, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, and the Oklahoma City Chapter newsletter, The ConSpec, also received Communications Awards, as did fellow chapter member Melody Stinson, CSI, for her work on the HYPED2! event. Other winners included the San Francisco Chapter’s Specifics, along with the Redwood Empire Chapter’s Redwood Bark newsletter and Lynn Ostensenon, CSI, CCS, editor of New Orleans’ The Invitation.

The Indianapolis Chapter was recognized for its documentary video of its revitalized trade show, now known as Design Indy. As well, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA—an editorial advisor to The Construction Specifier—was presented with a Communications Award for his blog, Constructive Thoughts, which was cited for “myriad thought-provoking, real world, and practical observations of the design and construction industries.”

The Organizational Certificate of Appreciation—the highest award CSI can bestow on a firm, organization, or association—went to ATAS International, for promoting and assisting its employees’ institute-related educational efforts and for corporate sponsorship.

Author Lori Greene, winner of the ‘article-of-the-year’ award, is flanked by CSI’s Casey Robb and magazine editor, Erik Missio.

Author Lori Greene, winner of the ‘article-of-the-year’ award, is flanked by CSI’s Casey Robb and magazine editor, Erik Missio.

The Hans William Meier Award for Advancement of Certification Programs went to two individuals:
● George A. Everding, CSI, CCS, CCCA, for his work with the Greater St. Louis Chapter’s certification program and webinar series; and
● William A. “Chip” Hayward Jr., CSI, CCCA, also for his work supporting CSI’s certification programs.

Finally, the Moll/Betts Student Excellence Award traditionally goes to the student with the highest score on the (CDT) exam. Comprising a cash prize and one year of CSI membership, this year it went to Nichola Conniff, CSI-S, CDT, and Farrah McCullough, CDT. Dunwoody College of Technology (Minneapolis , Minnesota), the institution winner, receives a suite of CSI member-written publications from publisher John Wiley & Sons.

Over the course of CONSTRUCT, The Construction Specifier was present throughout the proceedings, even co-sponsoring the CSI Night Out social evening. As the magazine’s editor, I hosted the lunch-box panel discussion, “Aspirations vs. Reality: Conflicts in Sustainable Construction,” in front of a packed house. Panel members Paul Bertram (director of environment and sustainability/government affairs for Kingspan Insulated Panels and CSI past-president), Brendan Owens (U.S. Green Building Council’s [USGBC’s] vice president of LEED Technical Development), Stephen Hess (attorney at Sherman & Howard LLC), and Doug Pierce (senior associate at Perkins+Will) discussed everything from environmental product declarations (EPDs) and the evolution of green design to USGBC’s recent announcement of cooperation with the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

I was also pleased to present Lori Greene, CSI, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, with The Construction Specifier Magazine Article of the Year Award for her October 2013 piece, “Questions About Fire Doors: Everything You Always Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask).”

Next year’s CONSTRUCT will be taking place in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit for details.

Great walls of fire

Fire-rated curtain walls for interior separations
by Jeff Razwick

Fire-rated curtain walls can satisfy life safety requirements without sacrificing transparency. All images courtesy TGP

Fire-rated curtain walls can satisfy life safety requirements without sacrificing transparency. All images courtesy TGP

Glazed curtain walls are best known for their ability to visually integrate two otherwise separate spaces. Less talked about—though, perhaps more important—are curtain walls with the capability to retain visibility and access to daylight while standing guard against fire.

Tested to ASTM E119, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 263, Fire-resistance Ratings, fire-rated curtain walls can satisfy life safety requirements without sacrificing transparency—for better safety and aesthetics. Their multi-functionality is critical to helping design teams meet a complex set of performance criteria with one product, eliminating redundant systems and streamlining construction.

Simply put—fire-rated curtain walls allow design teams to do more with less in areas where fire and life safety is a concern. For design professionals interested in using the tough-yet-transparent form of such curtain walls to tackle multiple project demands for interiors, certain questions may arise during the specification process.

1. What constitutes a fire-rated curtain wall?
Fire-rated curtain walls block the transfer of flames and smoke, as well as radiant and conductive heat, for the duration of their given fire rating. To achieve this level of defense, fire-rated curtain walls incorporate fire-resistive glass and framing.

Fire-resistive glass is typically a clear, multi-laminate product with an intumescent interlayer that turns opaque during a fire. This reaction allows the glass to carry fire ratings up to 120 minutes, pass the fire and hose stream tests, and remain relatively cool on the non-fire side of the glass for its designated fire rating.

Fire-resistive frames serve as the support structure in fire-rated curtain walls, and can block the transfer of radiant and conductive heat for up to 120 minutes. While many framing systems employ fire-resistive insulating materials to achieve the necessary defense, those using inherently heat-resistant framing materials like carbon steel do not typically require thermal barriers within their core to protect against heat transfer. Regardless of the material chosen, packing the perimeter of the framing system to the rough opening with firestop insulation or an appropriately rated intumescent sealant is critical to the system’s overall performance.

Some manufacturers offer comprehensive fire-rated curtain wall systems, complete with frames, glass, seals, and component parts. These integrated assemblies ensure all components are designed and tested in the same assembly and to the same standard. This is critical since the International Building Code (IBC) requires all elements within a fire-resistive glazing assembly to provide the same category of fire resistance and carry the minimum fire rating as stated in the code.

Fire-rated frames can be wet-painted or powder-coated to match virtually any color scheme.

Fire-rated frames can be wet-painted or powder-coated to match virtually any color scheme.

2. Where are fire-rated glass curtain walls suitable for use?
Fire-rated curtain walls are typically suitable wherever building codes require an assembly designated “fire resistant” to enclose a space. Examples include wall applications requiring a 60-minute or greater fire rating that must meet temperature-rise criteria, such as stairwells, walls in exit corridors, or other fire barriers dividing interior construction exceeding 25 percent of the total wall area.

Since the choice to incorporate fire-rated curtain walls is often at the design team’s discretion, it is important to evaluate whether the daylight and visibility provided is advantageous to occupant safety and well-being. For example, an expansive multi-story, fire-rated curtain wall may prove beneficial to people working in a hard-to-light office. Similarly, a single-story fire-rated curtain wall enclosing a stairwell, lobby, or gathering area can extend line of sight to boost safety levels or create a sense of collaboration.

3. Are fire-rated glass curtain walls suitable in areas where they are susceptible to impact?
Fire-rated curtain walls are available with glazing that provides up to Category II (Consumer Product Safety Commission [CPSC] 16 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1201, Safety Standard for Architectural Glazing) impact-safety ratings. This is the highest rating, indicating the glass can safely withstand an impact similar to that of a fast-moving adult. As such, fire-rated curtain walls are ideal for use in high-traffic areas, including schools, gymnasiums, and hospitals.

4. How do fire-rated and non-fire-rated curtain walls compare?
Unlike the bulky, wraparound form of traditional hollow metal steel frames, modern fire-rated frames have a slender profile and sleek aesthetic. They can be much narrower, have well-defined edges (rather than rounded profiles), and have vertical-to-horizontal framing joints without visible weld beads or fasteners.

In areas where a frame-free exterior surface is desirable, it is now possible to specify fire-rated curtain walls with the smooth, monolithic appearance of a structural silicone glazed system. One available assembly is silicone-sealed and requires no pressure plates or caps. Its toggle retention system becomes completely hidden once installed, creating a seamless, uninterrupted surface appearance.

5. What finishes are available for fire-rated curtain wall systems?
Design professionals can achieve nearly any look when it comes to fire-rated frame appearance. Carbon steel frames can be wet-painted or powder-coated to match virtually any color scheme, from aluminum to bright greens and blues. Framing materials also include polished or brushed stainless steel.

Fire-rated frames are also available with finished stainless steel or aluminum custom cover-caps to provide design professionals with even greater aesthetic flexibility. The face caps are available in numerous shapes and sizes—from H- and I-shapes to custom configurations. Stainless caps are typically brushed finish while aluminum ones can be wet-painted, anodized, or powder-coated to match the framing.

Modern fire-rated frames have a slender profile and sleek aesthetic to improve sightlines and views between spaces.

Modern fire-rated frames have a slender profile and sleek aesthetic to improve sightlines and views between spaces.

6. Are there any limitations to be aware of?
Since mismatched fire-rated glass and framing ratings can jeopardize the safety of a fire-rated curtain wall, it is important to verify the entire assembly provides the same type of fire protection and has a fire rating equal to or greater than the code requires. This includes the glass, frames, hardware, and all component parts.

From a performance standpoint, use of fire-rated glass requires stiffer deflection limits due to imposed wind loads. Typical curtain walls will allow L/175 (where L = span of the framing member between anchor points) or 19 mm (3/4 in.), whichever is less. Due to the nature of the fire-rated glass, deflection is limited to L/300. This may not be critical for interior applications where the only wind load is from mechanical systems, but it becomes important when designing fire-rated curtain walls for exterior applications.

Regarding installation, it is helpful to keep in mind many frames in fire-rated glass curtain walls are shipped as knock-down (K-D) kits ready for onsite assembly. While frame components may be pre-assembled or welded in the factory, pre-assembly is often done on a case-by-case basis. If pre-assembly is critical to a job’s timeframe, one should verify the manufacturer has the resources to assist with this process.

While one of the primary advantages of selecting a fire-rated glass curtain wall system is the ability to do more with less, aesthetic goals should never come at the cost of safety. Manufacturers and suppliers are available to help problem solve or create a custom work-around to balance life safety with design goals.

Jeff Razwick Head ShotJeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings. Razwick is a past-chair of the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Council (FRGC). He can be contacted via e-mail at