March 8, 2012

It’s Only 236 Square Feet of Glass

By Paul Bieber

It is just about the most exciting 236 square feet of glass in North America, and I have seen a lot of North American glass installations.

I am in Toronto, Canada, attending the World Baseball Classic (more on this later). I visited the CN Tower where the floor includes 236 sq. ft. of glass. This floor just happens to be 1122 ft. above ground. Wow!!!!!!

The CN tower is a tourist attraction that really attracts: an obligatory rotating restaurant, a TV transmitter, and video games. But to me, the floor was awesome–watching the people put a toe on the floor and then slowly stepping on to it, like it was thin ice; seeing one member of a family who would not step on no matter how many other people were on it. When you stand on this floor, looking down, it is impossible not to be impressed. You can barely make out people walking, and a train going by looks like it was made by Lionel.

The sign board describing the floor doesn’t give the makeup. It does say that the floor will hold fifteen hippos. So, all jokes aside, I was safe. (Stop snickering now.) I don’t think too many people asked the tour guide what the thickness of the glass was, but she didn’t know. She looked at me like I was some kind of glass nerd…OK, she got that part right.

An installation like this speaks volumes about how great our industry is. There were hundreds of visitors, most from out of town, and even though the view through the windows was more than thirty miles, it was the floor that caused the most comment. Many people spent time looking down rather than looking out. I didn’t see any kids jumping up and down; I guess the parents were too fearful to let this happen, but I knew they could.

I was proud of our industry. I was proud that an architect or designer had the faith in our product to make this a significant part of the most famous landmark in Ontario.

OK, the World Baseball Classic is a contest of sixteen teams from sixteen countries that play a double-elimination tournament to name the world champion. At the last classic, in 2006, the US was beaten in an early round and Japan wound up the winner. Saturday, we saw two games: the US barely squeaked by Canada, and Venezuela thoroughly stomped on Italy. On Sunday we saw the US have a big day over Venezuela. The crowd at Sunday’s game was 90% Venezuelan and they really had the place jumpin’. It was unlike any other game I have attended.

Early round matches are here in Toronto, Mexico City, Japan, and in San Juan. The second round matches are in Miami and San Diego, and the finals are in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It is like watching the All-Star game. The players are just the best from around the world. What a thrill.

The teams are from: China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Australia, Cuba, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Italy, USA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico.

Stop laughing. In one upset yesterday, the Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic.

There are some really great players out there, and, to the world, this is the most important tournament after the Olympics. The players are here to play and meet the big leaguers that they all read about. Derek Jeter earned the most cheers and the most boos at yesterday’s introduction. But, when he was signing autographs, there were thousands of people trying to reach him.

The best part of this…my son and my daughter are here with me enjoying this trip to fantasy land. It just doesn’t get better than this.

So now you now way too much about me…I get my thrills by seeing a glass floor and by watching grown men play a game. Throw in great hot dogs, and life could not get better.