AIA 2016: Our Top 25 Product Picks

Sheila Kim Sheila Kim

For all the architects and designers buried deep in CEUs and network sessions at AIA 2016 last week, we present product highlights you might’ve missed on the expo floor of the Philadelphia Convention Center. This year, we encountered some interesting developments on both the commercial and residential ends and witnessed more companies delving into technology. But we’ll save the tech report for later. For now, we present 25 of our must-see products of the expo ranging from door hardware to furnishings.



Andersen Windows & Doors: VeriLock
Also a recipient of a CES Innovation Award this year, Andersen’s VeriLock security sensors are wireless and inconspicuously integrated into a number of the manufacturer’s existing windows and patio or back doors so as to not interfere with aesthetics. Homeowners can then remotely check the status of windows and doors, as well as receive alerts when a status changes. The sensors come in a range of coordinating colors to fit the 400 Series, A-Series, E-Series and 200 Series. They can also be added to previously installed models from the aforementioned lines.

Andersen Windows & Doors

CRL-U.S. Aluminum: ArcticFront Series 45X
This high-performance, center-glazed storefront system features a 2-inch-by-4½-inch frame with dual polyurethane thermal break points for superior protection against heat transfer. Used in conjunction with 1-inch-thick low-E insulating glass or IGUs, the NFRC-rated system can produce U-factors ranging from 0.37 down to an impressive 0.19. Best of all, the system is as installer-friendly as a traditional storefront.

CRL-U.S. Aluminum

Kolbe: Custom Pivot Entrance Doors
To highlight its custom pivot entrance door capabilities, Kolbe displayed a one-off door standing a whopping 9 feet tall by 6 feet wide and utilizing nearly invisible hardware. Constructed from mahogany wood, it included lites in energy-efficient, tempered LoE-270 reeded glass. The door was paired with Rockwood’s GeoMetek locking pull handle in satin stainless steel. Kolbe’s custom pivot doors are built to order in extra wide or tall sizes, unusual shapes, a range of wood species, with or without crafted glass and also in vibrant finishes.


NanaWall Systems: FoldFlat
Whether in residential or commercial projects, the ability to open the interior up to the outdoors continues to be a desirable perk — and the industry has been responding with folding glass walls. However, once out of the way, these still often result in obtrusive end panels that create unusable space. NanaWall’s FoldFlat solves this issue, allowing the panels to pivot all the way back (180 degrees) against adjacent walls.

NanaWall Systems

Velux: Dynamic Dome
Previewed in Philly but launching officially this July, Dynamic Dome commercial skylights are engineered to harvest more natural light, particularly in low sun-angle times of day for increased energy savings. The basic dome construction employs a repeating pattern of ridges and ribs based on octahedrons that give the unit its superior strength. The skylight frame is thermally broken, and the domes come in standard and custom sizes.



GGI: Custom Printed Glass
Glass fabricator GGI uses precision CNC machining, Dip-Tech digital ceramic in-glass printing technology and optional back painting to create everything from transparent or patterned curtain walls to opaque staircase infill. The company’s Alice 720dpi ceramic-frit printer can accommodate glass sizes of up to 110 by 236 inches with thicknesses between 3/16 and ¾ inches. Back painting and drying ovens accommodate sizes of up to 72 by 144 inches.


Guardian: UltraClear Glass
Delivering excellent clarity and more color neutrality without the green tint, UltraClear Glass is a low-iron product meant for interior applications including walls, partitions, doors, railings and furnishings, to name some. The glass is fabricated, laminated and heat-treated like standard float glass and comes in sizes up to 130 by 204 inches with thicknesses from 2 to 12 millimeters.


VetroTech: Keralite Extended-Sized Fire-Rated Glass
Saint-Gobain company VetroTech showed off the largest fire-rated ceramic glass formats to date. Its Keralite Standard, Select and Privacy glass sheets can now be produced up to 47¼ by 95-9/16 inches, significantly expanding the design and daylighting capabilities particularly in creating wider transoms, oversized windows and extra-tall sidelights.


View: Large Dynamic Glass
The manufacturer really made this announcement back at Greenbuild last November, but it’s worth repeating: View currently makes the largest dynamic glass on the market. In its AIA booth, View once again displayed the 6-by-10-foot size, which opens up more possibilities for designing buildings that require a responsive solution to solar heat gain control. Like the smaller formats, this larger electrochromic product tints automatically in response to outdoor conditions and can be controlled manually via mobile app.


Walker Glass: AviProtek E Bird-Friendly Glass
Walker continues to update its offerings in its AviProtek line to help prevent our avian friends from crashing into buildings while meeting the aesthetic demands of architects by making the acid-etched patterns subtler. Its latest introduction, AviProtek E adds an energy-efficient component: The glass can be specified with PPG’s Clear or Starphire UltraClear substrate with Solarban 60, 67 or 70XL on one side and the etched bird-safe patterns on the other.

Walker Glass


Oldcastle Echelon: InsulTech
Oldcastle Architectural — the family of brands known for masonry, paving and hardscape products — unveiled its consolidated masonry portfolio under their new Oldcastle Echelon brand at this AIA and with that announcement showcased a number of new or enhanced products and systems. InsulTech, for one, is a system consisting of structural masonry units, a molded BASF EPS insulation insert and thin face veneers that all perfectly fit together to provide an R-value of 16.2 (at 75 degrees Fahrenheit). The system can be specified with Trenwyth Masonry Block lines.

Oldcastle Echelon

Shildan: Fabrik
Terra cotta rainscreen and sunscreen specialist Shildan introduced this new system that it dubs an “architectural textile.” Fabrik utilizes a prefabricated flexible stainless steel framework that affixes to any wall and inset elements ranging from terra cotta to wood or glass units in various configurations, patterns and spacing. The Fabrik “swath” hence becomes a quick and instant decorative, screening, ventilating and shading element.


Trespa: New Meteon Lumen Finishes
The new finishes for Trespa’s Meteon® Lumen cladding panels are sure to turn heads: Diffuse removes reflection and texture, resulting in a subdued, satin-like finish; Oblique brings matte and gloss finishes together to mimic a natural, weathered appearance; and Specular adds gloss to become a more reflective surface in deep colors. Trespa Meteon is a high-pressure compact laminate composed of up to 70-percent natural fibers and thermosetting resins.



Kone: Kone Design Collection
A bumper crop of design options was unveiled for Kone’s Monospace 500, 500 EB, 700 and Minispace elevator cars, giving architects more opportunities to create a cohesive building, from lobby to lift to apartment. Laminate wall cladding can be specified with graphic prints, wood grains, brushed metals and dimensional effects. A selection of handrail styles, ceilings and skirting is also available. Architects can explore further in Kone’s online Car Designer Tool.


Schindler: myPORT Responsive Mobile Platform
Since we’re now living in a connected world, it was only a matter of time before smartphones would not only interact with access control systems, but elevator lifts. Schindler’s big launch at AIA, myPORT is indeed a smartphone-based service that provides personal mobility. It allows users to freely move throughout a building — from entering turnstiles and calling elevators based on predetermined destination to unlocking doors that they’re authorized to — when carrying their smartphones. Safety protocols such as SMS text verification and remote video-camera views ensure that only authorized persons gain access.



Armstrong Ceilings: Integrated Solutions
Armstrong showcased integrated solutions that result in ceiling planes without any messy cutouts. For instance, the ceiling grids can be customized to accommodate on-center continuous or non-continuous linear LED lighting that leaves the ceiling looking perfectly symmetrical. And pre-engineered Shade Pockets are compatible with Lutron Sivoia QS Roller 100/150/300 shades, allowing for installations up to 12 times faster than within drywall pockets.

Armstrong Ceilings

Assa Abloy: Pemko Flat Track
The mega-company’s Pemko brand previewed a new Flat Track sliding-door hardware system that’s modern and minimal in style, making it well-suited to applications ranging from residential to hospitality and office design. The tracks come in 6- or 8-foot lengths (or custom) and five finish options: stainless steel, industrial steel, wrought black, black suede and 10BE. Meanwhile, the system’s wheels can accommodate doors of up to 240 pounds. Handles and pulls are not included, but sister brand Rockwood Manufacturing offers several complementing ones.

Assa Abloy

CRL-U.S. Aluminum: Transpara
A beautiful bathroom can easily be ruined by a shower curtain or clunky door hardware. Thankfully, there are attractive shower doors currently on the market that can remedy this. One such product, Transpara boasts super-slim profile rails and zero visible hardware aside from the door pull/handle. In the company’s stocked Transpara kit, the door rails are bonded to a 3/8-inch-thick tempered-glass door measuring 28 inches wide by 84 inches high and pre-drilled with two ½-inch holes for the included back-to-back handle — making installation swift and easy. The bottom door rail features an integrated vinyl wipe to prevent water leakage. Rails and handles are available in CRL Brite Anodized, Brite Gold, Brushed Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze.

CRL-U.S. Aluminum

Häfele: Slido Design 80-M
Furniture fittings and architectural hardware company Häfele had quite a few highlights at AIA worth talking about, but perhaps the most intriguing was its Slido Design 80-M system. While industrial-style barn-door hardware is all the rage in interiors, Design 80-M goes in the opposite direction by presenting an invisible system on which the door seems to float. It looks like magic, but it’s actually as simple as running concealed gears in the bottom of the door and a concealed track at the top that slides along a short, discreet guide. This system can be used with wood or frameless glass doors weighing up to 176 pounds.


LG Electronics: LG Multi V S
This next generation of the company’s Multi V Mini-series is even more compact and efficient, supporting up to nine individual indoor heating and cooling units with a two-pipe refrigeration circuit. With its smaller footprint and little to no ductwork required, Multi V S helps maintain the design integrity of building exteriors. It’s compatible with LG’s Art Cool Gallery, Art Cool Mirror and other ducted and non-ducted models.

LG Electronics

MechoSystems: Chelsea Blackout Collection
The Chelsea collection (0250 Series) is a blackout shadecloth with a modern graphite-colored backing that complements more building exteriors when drawn. Composed of 50-percent polyester and 50-percent foam backing, the 118-inch-wide cloth is both thin and lightweight and comes in six interior-face colors.


NanaWall Systems: PrivaSEE
Ideal for conference room and other operable wall applications in the interior, PrivaSEE offers a clean, frameless glass look in a foldable wall that runs on a single ceiling track. But what’s more impressive is that the system offers an STC rating of 36 — which is comparable to that of fixed glass partitions — despite it not using a floor track. The secret is twofold: In closed position, the system self-activates interlocks between the panels and compression seals at the bottom that drop to meet the floor.

NanaWall Systems

Philips Lighting: Ledalite FloatPlane LED Luminaire
A sporty LED suspension and wall-mount luminaire, FloatPlane is simple and attractive to complement almost any interior and meet stringent budgets. Now the fixture comes in new fun colors for more design flexibility and character. FloatPlane boasts a low profile of only 1.2 inches and comes in 8-inch widths with either rounded or square end-caps. Light distribution can be shifted between 70 percent up, 75 percent down or 100 percent down.

Philips Lighting

Tectura Designs: Collaboration Series No. 1
In collaboration with Damon Farber Associates, this site furniture collection includes some visually intriguing geometric pieces including a monumental, circular sculpture that functions both as a seat and bollard; a simple frame-like bike rack; concrete benches topped with wood slats that filter rainwater into an integrated stormwater planter. Not all of these were on display at AIA, but here’s a look at what you can expect.

Tectura Designs

Velux: Blinds and Blinds Adaptor Kit
The skylight and roof window manufacturer has expanded its residential skylight accessory offerings to include single- and double-pleated blinds. They can fit Velux’s solar-powered or manual skylights, but an adaptor kit allows installation onto some older models. The blinds are available in a variety of colors and patterns or for optimal energy efficiency, such as blackout and light-filtering versions, and in a Venetian-blind style. Specify for solar-activated or manual operation.