Chris V. Clement, Vice President of Sales
Lili, Katrina, Cindy, Gustav, Isaac, Nate, Berry, Marco, Laura, Delta, and Zeta—do these names ring a bell? No, this is not the guest list for any public event but a few major hurricanes that have hit the state of Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico after 2000. In fact, at least 28 tropical or subtropical cyclones have affected the state since the turn of the century, causing billions in damage to residential and commercial properties. In the fall of 2020, when hurricanes Laura and Delta struck Lake Charles consecutively, L’Auberge Casino Resort was one of the resorts in the area to face the wrath of these tropical cyclones. However, the story was different for L’Auberge Casino Resort. Although these destructive Category 4 hurricanes visibly damaged some of the hotel’s siding, none of the glass at the 15-story casino hotel was broken by either of these storms. Seems unreal, right?
The brain behind this impressive feat is New Orleans Glass Company (NOG)—a name renowned for providing high-quality glazing, glass walls, and custom engineered solutions across the Gulf South. Eight years ago, NOG executed a unitized project for L’Auberge Casino Resort, which enabled it to withstand the catastrophic storms. NOG’s unitized curtain walls (1 5/16” insulated units made up of a 1/4-inch piece of sacrificial glass on the outside, half inch air space, and 9/16” laminated glass inside) were designed to meet hurricane criteria. This enabled the resort to remain intact and fit for occupancy, allowing it to shelter numerous employees during the hurricane. The success story of L’Auberge further expounds on the proficiency of NOG in seamlessly executing a project right from the design stage through pricing, erection, and completion. “Our customers usually complain that perhaps we over-design our unitized systems. We like to hear that,” quips Chris V. Clement, Vice President of Sales at New Orleans Glass Company.
Oftentimes, curtain walls are specially designed to protect a building from extreme weather conditions and enhance its aesthetics and require very little maintenance and repair. This invariably makes them a prerequisite for safeguarding buildings against environmental hazards. Rising to the occasion, NOG brings global manufacturing, design capabilities, and installation together to offer turnkey curtain wall services for customers across the North American market. “We are the one-stop-shop for curtain wall services that draws the blueprint, engineers the system, fabricates the system, and then installs it as well,” asserts Clement.
Today, every building south of Interstate 10 (I-10) must take hurricane and high-wind design measures into account to withstand life-threatening storms, damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and flooding. However, according to Clement, many companies lack the proper understanding and expertise for testing, engineering, and working with hurricane-rated systems. “95 percent of our work has to meet hurricane criteria and because of that, we think we’re one of the best curtain wall service providers,” he emphasizes.
The Beginning of Louisiana’s Largest Family of Glass Companies
The story of New Orleans Glass began in 1954, when J. Warren Gardner, a 1950 Tulane University graduate, ventured out on his entrepreneurial journey.
After working at Pittsburg Plate Glass, he purchased Crasto Glass and Mirror Co, an established leader in residential and maintenance glass work serving the New Orleans area, in 1956. A few years later, with the opening of the Superdome in the heart of New Orleans in 1975, Poydras Street became a target for construction, transforming a dilapidated area into a corporate corridor and bustling land of high-rises. In 1985, sensing favorable circumstances to grow exponentially in the commercial high-rise glazing market, Gardner established NOG. During this time, the Poydras Street corridor opened a golden opportunity for NOG to flourish, as most 30 to 50 story buildings in the region opted for aluminum and glass skins. Rather than using the fabricated solutions available on the market, NOG started designing, engineering, and fabricating its own curtain walls, windows, glass, glass walls, and other custommanufactured solutions.
Gardner then launched Southern Walls and Windows as a fabricator of custom curtain wall systems in 1986. The company provides custom fabrication of aluminum windows and curtain walls (hurricane rated or non-hurricane rated versions) to meet the challenging architectural designs. Also, NOG can install Southern Walls and Windows’ products or provide them for installation to its clients’ team. Moving ahead on the acquisition path, in 1988, Gardner acquired Southern Walls, Inc. (SWI), a commercial glazing company in Florida that installs fenestration systems for commercial projects.
Today, all four companies are successfully led by J. Warren Gardner’s son, William Gardner, who is well-supported by an experienced and talented group of professionals. Under his leadership, the family of companies continues to thrive and provide quality conventional and custom glazing products and installations at a reasonable price throughout the Gulf South. “We’ve remained in business for over seventy years and we take pride in the quality of our service that we are renowned for in the industry,” states William Gardner.
A New Realm in Unitized Glazing
When it comes to high-rise buildings - three stories or more, with complex architecture and varied needs (huge glass sizes or custom aluminum profiles or meeting unusually high hurricane loads) - NOG claims its stand as a go-to solution provider. Whether it’s designassist and pre-construction, custom and pre-fabricated windows and curtain walls, hurricane-rated solutions, historic windows, steel windows, glass entryways, skylights, and railing, or storefronts and entrances, NOG offers them all. The company principally uses unitized curtain walls. Unitized walls are factory assembled, glazed, and then shipped to the job site in units rather than being glazed, completed, and installed on the site. The unitized systems have added advantages of speed, and lower field installation costs. Apart from curtain walls, NOG manufactures elements that are to be integrated within its systems, including thin brick technology, fire-rated curtain walls, terrace doors, storm louvers, and integral sun shades.
NOG is highly involved in each step of curtain wall production for building projects and produces architectural drawings and specifications when requested. The company develops its own shop drawings, and while handling the specifications, matches the equipment requirements and then reviews these with the client. These drawings define which glass, infill, and metal will be required for the project. Typically, most larger projects by NOG entail a mock-up to meet hurricane criteria.
The company first builds the mock-up in its shop and then completes the hurricane testing in either Dallas, Miami, or Charlotte. Through extensive testing, NOG’s experts learn about the required changes and then incorporate those changes in the fabrication and tooling process. “We keep our customers in the loop the whole time because if changes are required we want our customers involved. We want them to be in the test lab to see the mistake and the actions that we take to address it. This ensures that we get an effective product that’s aesthetically pleasing and keeps the water out of the building,” says Clement.
Unlike most curtain wall providers that rely on Chinese fabricated and extruded shapes, NOG offers carefully vetted systems from several U.S. manufacturers, as well as custom fabricated solutions manufactured in its fabrication shop on Tulane Avenue. By producing unitized systems and manufacturing them in-house, NOG is better equipped to control the product quality.
Dedicated to Achieving Excellence
NOG takes great pride in expertly producing windows and curtain walls, all engineered and manufactured to creatively meet clients’ architectural and design specifications. “We deeply believe that listening is the key to effective communication, so we ask the right questions and listen to our client’s answers to understand their requirements,” mentions Clement. NOG’s high-quality service stems from its deep-rooted engineering and testing expertise. Backed by an incredible team of project managers with over ten years of experience and highly skillful glazers, technicians, and installers, NOG is known for the finest craftsmanship. “We help architects and general contractors translate the vision of their design into reality. Our early involvement on a project results in clearing up potential confusion, maintaining desired aesthetics of the product, and achieving better results,” says Clement.
Although a multi-million dollar company, NOG is nimble enough to function as a small company. Clement explains that this approach provides NOG with the flexibility to successfully meet the customer’s needs while staying profitable. The company’s team of glass and glazing professionals can assist with pre-construction design, procurement, and budget analysis for any size project. By focusing on fabricating unitized products, NOG ensures utmost efficiency and quality while also providing building owners and general contractors with a cost advantage. Through its custommanufactured products and turnkey solutions, the company offers the ultimate mastery in design, engineering, and energysaving techniques. Also, NOG stays up to date on all required hurricane, terrorism, and disaster-related ratings and engineering standards.
The company’s constant pursuit of helping its clients is a testament to its appetite for innovation and excellence. The company is continually looking for ways to enhance its fabrication methods, source the best materials at competitive prices, and develop new products in-house. Following the COVID-19 crisis, NOG has expanded its focus to the hospitality, healthcare, and casino industry. This year, the company’s long list of projects starts with a major renovation of the LSU Medical Center and Domino’s Sugar Refinery. Looking ahead, NOG plans to continue its work in South Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast to build its market share. “We aim to continue to get better at unitizing curtain walls and window wall systems and reduce the time needed on the job site. The more labor we can move into our shop and out of the field, the better and faster the results will be for our customers,” notes Clement.