Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems Inc.
- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Joe Atwood
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
The Bagatelos family has a longstanding history in the architectural glass and glazing industry. Nick Bagatelos founded Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems Inc. (BAGS) in 1997, and his brother Christopher joined the company in 1998, but the family’s history in glazing stems back to their father, who helped complete work on many of the high-rise office buildings that shape the San Francisco skyline while working as a union glazier.
After working at a multimillion-dollar family-owned glass company, Commercial Window Systems Inc., Nick set out on his own to build a company with the capabilities to handle projects needing off-the-shelf curtain wall systems, as well as those requiring a high level of customization. BAGS maintains a reputation throughout California for quality and service as a leading curtain wall design, fabrication and installation subcontractor handling projects from hard-bid public projects to design-build hospital construction.
BAGS is based out of a headquarters and fabrication facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a secondary branch was recently opened in the Los Angeles metropolitan area to extend BAGS’ reach into the Southern California markets. BAGS provides clients with design, fabrication and installation of exterior cladding systems, but it is the company’s appetite for new technologies that keeps it ahead of the competition.
“We are always on the lookout for new technology, and our teams are chosen for their ability to say ‘Yes,'” asserts Nick Bagatelos, founder and still president of BAGS. BAGS’ in-house team, reinforced through an association with Glaziers and Glassworkers Local 767 and related union locals, usually hovers between 100 and 150 professionals, split between mostly field laborers, fabrication professionals, project management and administrative professionals. BAGS started adding in-house engineers and designers in 2006, which allowed the company to design its own glass-and-aluminum curtain wall systems for high-rise and mid-rise structures. This allowed the company to negotiate many noted projects.
Together, BAGS’ talented, loyal team provides a depth and breadth of experience in curtain wall systems that enables it to find success in a variety of market sectors. The company has a strong foothold in the commercial office space and corporate campus market, as well as an extensive portfolio of completed projects for municipal clients, hospitals, hotels, biotech companies, colleges, and a handful of luxury mixed-use developments.
Whatever It Takes
BAGS made a name for itself in the Northern California market by pursuing projects that require not only a high level of coordination, but also necessitate an unwavering ambition to continually improve internal efficiencies. It’s for these abilities that BAGS was tapped to provide its services in the construction of Cathedral Hill Medical Center, a 26-story hospital in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), a state agency charged with overseeing and approving the construction of all healthcare facilities in the state, supervised the landmark project. BAGS designed the first-ever four-sided structural glaze curtain wall to be approved by the agency.
OSHPD can take years to review and approve projects, however, during which time construction costs can skyrocket and trigger a new round of design and evaluation, but BAGS has built many hospitals within the state and is no stranger to designing curtain wall systems that meet both OSHPD and the client’s requirements. The project also employs the Lean Integrated Project Delivery method, which applies lean manufacturing principles to the integrated project delivery approach to eliminate waste and build value for the client at every stage of the project.
As a result, the BAGS team had to adopt building information modeling (BIM) capabilities to become an integral part of both the design and construction teams. “It’s very complicated, but it’s also a great challenge and it has led us to design three new curtain wall systems as a result,” adds Bagatelos. “Now all of our design and engineering is done in 3-D, and it continues to spur innovation within the company.”
The proposed Cathedral Hill Medical Center spans over 920,000 square feet and will pursue LEED Silver certification, but because of the project’s commitment to lean principles the hospital is expected to be constructed at 14 percent below the cost of current comparably sized projects.
Going Very Green
BAGS’ willingness to adopt new technologies has also led to the company’s products becoming increasingly energy efficient and aligned with green building principles. Around the same time that BAGS invested in an in-house engineering team the company also purchased an aging warehouse, which was promptly gutted and refashioned into a net-zero energy building, meaning the building itself produces as much energy as it consumes while in the manufacturing process.
The Sacramento building houses state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment Bagatelos brought over from Germany, and also sports a bevy of green features from top to bottom. BAGS put in triple insulation everywhere, replaced the old HVAC equipment with brand new, high-efficiency electric heat pump systems, and installed new lighting systems equipped with sophisticated sensors that adjust lighting as needed.
Forty skylights were installed along with rooftop solar cells and 14 operable windows that reduce the demand on the building’s lighting and ventilation systems. A rainwater capture system was also installed on the rooftop to reuse rainwater for irrigation, and window testing. All in all, the building uses roughly 60-percent less energy than similar operations, and generates the other 40 percent with clean solar power.
“We wanted to make this building as energy efficient as possible to differentiate our company from our competitors, but it also led me to look into the world of photovoltaic curtain wall systems,” expands Bagatelos. Bagatelos’ research ultimately led to the founding of BISEM Inc., which stands for Building Integrated Skin Electrical Mechanical. BISEM is now the only U.S.-based manufacturer of building-integrated photovoltaic (BiPV) curtain wall systems that are certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. to assure they provide a safe, modular chassis that allows energy generation and aesthetics to coexist on building envelopes.
BISEM will pursue aggressive growth in the next few years, as architects, engineers and general contractors look for ways to boost building energy efficiency, and BAGS is also primed for growth as the company’s Southern California location begins building its own momentum. No matter where the next opportunity lies for the team, Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems Inc. will continue to pursue new technologies, using personal passion and a depth of engineering and management experience to ensure a high-performance, high-quality finished product.
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