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GPD: bridging glass technology and design; enabling fantastic things

James O´Callaghan, Eckersley O´Callaghan Engineers, a frequent GPD lecturer and participant, speaks about the GPD conferences and the Jorma Vitkala Award, which, he says: “bridges the worlds of the material developers, producers and suppliers with the ideas and concepts of designers and practical applications.”

Modern structural engineering and architecture combine to enable fantastic construction. The working environment and its technical and economic efficiency largely depend on utilizing the best materials and technologies available – usually a crossover of competencies and applications. The pioneering work of Jorma Vitkala’s unique Glass Performing Days Conference bridges the worlds of the material developers, producers and suppliers with the ideas and concepts of designers and practical applications. The challenge is to combine the technologically possible with the economically feasible not just currently but also over the years to come.

We who return to the GPD to learn more about the state-of-the-art of architectural glass have been amazed by the presentations of what glass can do and how we as structural designers can use its best properties. Glass is a structural element but it is also a source of energy efficiency, building economy, human well-being through comfort and day-lighting, a source of energy and part of skylines and city images. Moreover, the use of glass for illumination and display can act as impressive image-builders for the building operators and owners.

We have a lot to thank the GPD for in broadening the horizons of glass applications. Without a dedicated team putting together and documenting the great story of the GPD at regular intervals our communities would be a lot poorer looking. We have become used to our spectacular city images as reflected in high-rise and commercial complexes. The significance of the GPD after its first quarter century should be measured at this level and in terms like this and as a true enabler of our living environment and of our looks.

The Jorma Vitkala Award stands out as a dynamic inspiration and image-builder for exceptional achievements in the development and application of glass – unique products, systems, construction, design or architecture – and will hopefully highlight many break-through innovations.

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