Interview Bill Marshall, Principal at Estudio Marshall

Laminated Glass News speaks to Bill Marshall, principal at Estudio Marshall (www.estudiomarshall.com), and discovers that local knowledge is just as essential as an international reputation.


Image © Ana Amado
Fortuny 32 - a double-skin façade provides a more controlled environment.
Image © Ana Amado
The outer skin needed to be as invisible as possible, so low-iron glass laminated with SentryGlas® was specified.
Image © Ana Amado

Q. Tell me about you and your company.
After completing my studies in 1976, I got my first job working as a draftsman at an architectural aluminum company that covered the production of the whole value chain of curtain walls, from casting the alloy, up to field installation. Later in my career, I managed a consulting company that promoted the use of value-added glass products, such as laminated and tempered glass, in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. This experience led me to form Estudio Marshall, a consulting firm specializing in facades. We don’t sell any products and we have no commercial relationships. Our focus is on design, quality control, forensics, and, very importantly, education.

Q. As a façade design & engineering company, how has the development of ever more capable interlayers changed your design capabilities/visions?
Large units certainly rank up there as does the growing use of structural glass. We can now do balustrades without any metal – this would have been crazy 30 to 40 years ago. Interlayers like SentryGlas® ionoplast interlayers from Trosifol have changed the way you can use glass. This opens new design opportunities. While large glass is popular with architects around the world, it can be challenging to source it locally. In Argentina, for example, glass fabrication is limited to 5 meters. We had a project designed in the US for an Argentinian building, which required 6 m panels, but we knew that no local company could produce panels of this size. So we had to go abroad to get the sizes we needed. Architects may have a vision, but we have to ask, “who can bring this vision to life?” As façade consultants, we employ the best technology available, such as AutoCAD and 3D printing, but we still have to be realistic about limitations in fabrication and logistics.

Q. Do you find that architects are now more aware of the capabilities of structural glass?
It depends on the market and the country. Sometimes you do find architects who are more up to date in terms of technology and commercial capabilities, but sometimes you don’t. This is why we find the education angle about façade design and technology is a good business.

Q. Are they using structural glass more in their designs?
There’s a famous phrase from a Spanish architect − he said − regarding innovation − it’s not good being the first one, it’s better to be the second one. Most architects are reluctant to design with innovative facades. They want to innovate, but they don’t want the responsibility (run the risk) of being the first. They are also restricted by budget, so often head back to more widely applied concepts. In answer to your question… “Yes, but slowly.”


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