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Review: Safety & Security Glass: A comprehensive Guide to Glass Types, Sources of Supply, Installation and Standards,

by David Crook and Ray Jennings, Miller Freeman, 2000, price £17.50

How often have you wanted to know the difference between laminated glass, toughened glass, laminated safety, Georgian wired or toughened Georgian wired but were afraid to ask? What about float glass versus rolled or cast glass? Or annealed as opposed to nickel sulphide? Be honest. It is one of those things - either you know or you don't - and if you do, it has probably been gleaned by word of mouth rather than a deep understanding of BS 6262: Part 4:1994. Tracking down the information is not easy. Specifications end up being cobbled together from outdated precedents. Even National Building Specification guidance is a tortuous reference route for hard-pressed architects who would rather cut and paste 'standard' glazing clauses with no real understanding of the properties of the glass they are specifying.

On first read, therefore, I was delighted by this booklet.

Long overdue, it seeks to do for glazing what the Lead Development Handbook did for flashings. Simply and cogently written, it is structured to reflect the RIBA Plan of Work Stages (even explaining them on page 9) and tries to release only as much information as is relevant to particular job stages, although you can find more information very readily by thumbing through the booklet. At initial feasibility Stage B, for example, you do not necessarily want to plough through reams of statutory guidance on the availability of glass thicknesses - this would be needed in Stage D. The information is structured on a need-to-know principle. While this gives rise to repetition in the text, this can be a good thing, with headings such as Products, Risk/Safety and Specification having differently nuanced information at different stages.

Unfortunately on closer reading, I realised that my first hopeful exuberance was premature. Printed on high gloss paper - which gives it the feel of a copy of Readers' Digest - the book suffers from a lack of diagrams and dimensions and there is no thorough review of fire-resistant glass.

Admittedly this is about safety glazing, and fire glazing is covered in other texts, but the cross-over between the two is crucial. Not including a detailed section through a timber fire screen, for example is a shame, and more text on the implications of fire safety on design should have been included as a matter of course.

Also, one or two facts are open to question. For example, the Building Regulations' 'minimum zone of visibility', does not mean that vision panels need to be a minimum of 600mm high, but rather that they should be located so that some point is between 900mm and 1500mm above floor level.

However, in general this book is straightforward, unpretentious and functional. Any decent office library should find a place for it. I can give it no higher praise than that.

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