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The Ontario Glass and Metal Association (OGMA) used to have a regular get-together at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. Having no idea of the difference between a good horse and a bad one, I never bet much but I did usually go for the chance to have a beverage with my friends in the glass business. And as so often happens over a beverage, a great idea came up. This was in 2012, so I was still fairly new to the industry. I was chatting with Steve Gusterson of Alumicor and asked in passing if the OGMA had any kind of a trade show. Steve said no, they didn’t, and it was a shame. He told me a bit about the old Image show that had taken place in the late ‘80s, and I asked why nothing else had been launched.

He pointed out that the OGMA was a volunteer association with no staff and that an effort of that magnitude would require someone on it full time. I said, “You mean someone with a professional content generation department and events manager…like us?”

So Top Glass was born. The concept from the start has been to keep it simple – just one day of four one-hour education sessions and a show floor with whomever wants to exhibit to the Canadian architectural glass market. We found a good space by joining up four carpeted rooms at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and using the moveable walls to create a lecture hall where the sound from the floor wasn’t too loud. That worked well except in year three where we started promoting the event to architects and got so many it overflowed the room, forcing us to open a wall up. A nice problem to have, I guess.

Since then, Top Glass has evolved into an event for architects, glazing contractors, glass fabricators and anyone else involved in the commercial glazing industry. We welcome around 300 attendees each year, roughly evenly split between the contracting and design sides. Last year’s online version attracted about the same numbers.

Our content this time looks good. We’re hosting it on an online event platform called Pheedloop. The sessions take place over a video chat that looks a lot like Zoom, with a chat function so attendees can submit questions. There are separate “booths” where attendees can click to see information and videos from suppliers and chat with them.

Gary Watson of Diamond Schmitt Architects is going to share his reflections and projections about how the last year changed our industry. Will there be a long-term impact to our buildings and urban environments from the pandemic? Have some things changed forever? Gary has great thoughts on the matter informed by his experience as a senior member of one of North America’s most prominent architecture firms.

We’ll feature some tech talk by Mark Jacobson of Kuraray giving us the FYI on laminated glass and the codes and standards governing its use. This is one area of the glass business where technology has certainly not stood still, and Mark is ideally placed to bring us up to speed on what is now required and possible.

Speaking of changing business conditions, Will Nash of WSP will address the growing importance of life cycle analysis with a look at low-embodied-carbon building products and their best applications in our facades. Building it tight and insulating is no longer the whole picture. Environmental authorities are starting to require materials that released less carbon dioxide in their manufacture, and Will can give us some tips on where to find them.

Finally, contractors will especially like Rik Vandelinde’s update on swing stage technology, featuring tips for how to design and safely use this critical technology. Vandelinde is a project manager for Winsafe and has been involved in some truly innovative solutions for getting glaziers to where they need to go. He’s involved with the safety regulators, too, and can answer questions about rules and regulations surrounding working at heights.

Top Glass happens April 21. Registration is free at The sessions qualify for continuing education credits with most professional organizations, and attendees automatically receive confirmation of their attendance with their login.

See you at Top Glass!