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The Amazing Use of Travertine at the Getty Center


Travertine, a type of limestone deposited in hot springs, was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago. Two of the most famous travertine structures were built 2,000 years and half apart: the Colosseum in Rome and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.   

The Getty Center was designed by the architect Richard Meier and opened to the public on December 16, 1997. Sitting on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, just off the San Diego Freeway, it has amazing views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. The campus, which is clad in Italian travertine, is organized around a central arrival plaza, whose curvilinear design elements soften the toughness created by the travertine slabs. This material is the real protagonist here: 1.2 million square feet of Italian travertine from Bagni di Tivoli, 15 miles east from Rome. This beige-colored, cleft-cut, textured, fossilized stone, usually associated with public architecture, symbolizes in fact qualities that the Getty Center itself celebrates, like permanence, warmth, simplicity and craftsmanship. 

Travertine Getty   South promontory

Many slabs, split along their natural grain, reveal fossilized leaves, branches, feathers, and occasionally bones. Richard Meier and his staff collaborated with the workers from the Mariotti quarry for a year and actually managed to invent a particular “guillotine” process to create this unique rough textured finish, which shows very antique patterns (Tivoli’s travertine, whose deposits are 300 feet thick, started forming 200,000 years ago and has continued up to the present).

Feature travertine slab with formations

Travertine slab particularWall beside ramp with inset feature stone

The 16,000 tons of Italian travertine cover not only the retaining walls and the bases of all buildings, but are also used as paving stones for the arrival plaza and the Museum courtyard. Travertine panels serve as indoor decoration for the transitional walls between galleries, while metal panels cover the upper stories and curvilinear elements to resemble the stone. Most of the paving travertine is honed and unfilled, though the interior one has a filled finish. The particular sepia-toned color of the stone catches the bright Southern California light, reflecting sharply during morning hours, and emitting ahoneyed warmth in the afternoon.

Travertine at GettyMuseum courtyard, column and wall of education center with inset feature stones

The lighter colored travertine on the Getty’s exterior and interior is called Classico; the darker one, used just on some interior parts, is called Barco, and both come from different sections of the same quarry near Rome.

Travertine at Getty       Fountain alcove in east pavilion of Museum, courtyard level 

Meier, during his European work, developed an open-joint stone system, which differs from the American technique of sealing the joints with mortar: in this way he was able to protect the surfaces – already treated with a silicate-based water repellent - over time by allowing water to drain behind the outer skin, and to make each stone independently slightly movable, which is critical in earthquake-prone Southern California. In fact, each panel is individually anchored and draftsmen spent more than 3 years creating more than 2,500 shop drawings including every single stone used both in the walls and in the paving. Meier’s perfectionism for this project got famous: he worked with the quarry to create the exact look he wanted for the 290,000 pieces of travertine that cover the buildings.

Travertine at GettyCorner of wall at end of outdoor Museum cafe,travertine panel with leaf fossils

The critics are correct when they say that travertine makes Meier’s design succeed. In fact, without it, the Getty would be good architecture; with it, the Getty is actually great architecture and this particular travertine is unlike any other one used in buildings in the United States.  

Travertine at Getty

Pictures from

Cooritalia & Brombal at IBIS


IBIS 15, the Annual International Builders' Show is upon us. It is the largest annual light construction show in the world and Brombal will be there exhibiting their new products around the concept of "The world's first luxury thermally broken metal windows & doors."

VISTA 2 resized 600

The large stand will feature a number of new products and applications, including a 12ft wide curved 4 panel Bifold unit, a stunning corten steel pivot door as well as wells as a Bronze door and a a narrow profile window.

CoorItalia is also particularly proud as Brombal has chosen to highlight one of our recent projects with them.

As well as the Brombal family and management, CoorItalia will be there,  with Marco on the 21st and 22nd of January, and with myself and Steve on the 22nd and we would be very proud to show you the latest products, our Miami -Dade and NFRC certifications, and find out how Steel and Bronze can be part of your next project.


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Brombal Windows & Doors are "Best in Class"


The results are out and Brombal USA's Steel and Bronze windows and doors go straight to the top of their class!

After being the first manufacturer to certify their units to Miami-Dade specifications for hurricane and Water, Brombal has just wrapped up certification of both its OS2 and EBE65 product line in all of it's combinations - Powder Coated Galvanized Steel, Stainless Steel, Cor-ten Steel and Bronze as well as operational, including Casements, Awnings, Tilt & Turns, fixed units for the windows, and French Doors and Lift & Slides for the doors. And the numbers are top of the metal category.

For example, both the OS2 and EBE65 casement window in Bronze has a u-factor of .23  (SHGC of .19) in it's most efficient glazing combination.

Architects all over the USA are coming up against ever increasing Building Code requirements for Fenestration energy efficiency. For Example in California the new Title 24 legislation has, as of July of this year, introduced much more stringent requirements for the Building Envelope, the "Prescriptive Method"  for "all fenestration" (windows, glass doors, skylightis) has been reduced to 0.32 in all climate zones. The mandatory maximum u-factor for all fenestration has been reduced to 0.58. As the default value is .79 (metal frame no thermal break - Table 110.6A CEC)  for Non NFRC products most projects in California will not be in complaince with Title 24. Choosing the "Performance Method" of calculation is, by now an almost obligatory for Architects in California, but to do so you MUST specify a product that has the NFRC certification, and not just one kind of product (eg a fixed unit) but all the units (doors, sliders, awnings, etc) must be certified.

Brombal USA Windows & Doors not only offer you a complete range of units and glazing solutions but thanks to their advanced thermal break system they are the best available on the US market. Combine that with the fact the Brombal is the largest manufacturer in the world for thermally broken steel units and you have a winning combination.describe the image

Brombal's Milestones and First Project in the US


CoorItalia’s partner for all steel windows and doors is the historic Brombal Company, which is the world’s largest thermally broken Steel, CorTen, and Bronze window and door manufacturer. It was founded in 1970 by Pietro Brombal in a small town in Northern Italy and it has always been extremely flexible in adapting to the different requests and designs proposed by the clients. Over the years the Brombal team has consolidated their know-how into an outstanding Italian family business.

Brombal USA

Let’s take a look at the milestones that made Brombal the big and successful company is today:

1959 – Pietro Brombal begins apprenticeship as a metal craftsman.

1970 – Pietro Brombal establishes a metal fabrication shop in Altivole, Italy, specializing in custom window and door frames.

1975 – Pietro Brombal opens his own workshop in Altivole, Italy.

1979 – The name of the company becomes “Serramenti Brombal”.

2002 – The two sons of Pietro Brombal,  Leonardo and Pierpaolo, who learnt the steel business from their father at an early age, officially become part of the company, respectively overseeing the manufacturing  and sales and marketing. Combined they have over 50 years of steel/bronze fenestration expertise.

2004 – Brombal and CoorItalia start to work together and, for the first time, Brombal exports a thermally broken project into the US market.

2005 – Brombal completes largest project to date – the 5 star Molino Stucky Hilton resort hotel in Venice, Italy. Over 2000 window units are installed in this restoration project.

2011 – Brombal USA founded with partners Domenick Siano and William Polinsky to provide excellent customer service and commitment to the US market.

Brombal, Napa, First Project"Napa Retreat", The First American Project 

The most important year for Brombal and CoorItalia as partners was 2004, when the two companies started to work together for the first time. The project took place in Napa Valley and the choice fell on bronze, both for its aesthetic qualities and for the flexibility in shaping. As you can see in the case study’s pictures, the job of the windows was not just to let the light in, but also to frame the picture perfect Napa countryside.

Since today Brombal has produced thousands of units and successfully completed hundreds of projects around the world.

Brombal, ProjectBrombal Project "Wild Bird" in Big Sur

CoorItalia is proud to represent Brombal products, which meet the highest quality thanks to a mix of family tradition and a strong spirit of innovation.

Brombal, ProjectBrombal Project in the East Coast

The “Belgian Blue” - One of the most popular and versatile European limestones


Belgium is famous for beer, the detective Poirot, and mussels but actually this country gave us also one of the most versatile European limestones: the Belgian Blue.

The Stone has been quarried since the early middle ages and an early example of it used in construction is the magnificent Church of St. Wadru, in Mons, built in 1450. More recently, the Galeries Saint-Hubert in Brussels, the oldest covered shopping arcade in Europe - built in 1847 by the Dutch architect J.-P. Cluysenaer – perfectly demonstrate the high versatility of this stone, whose typical color is actually dark grey. In fact here the Belgian Blue is used in all its forms: chiselled and moulded hewn stones on the exterior façades and their reverse sides; honed and polished products for the skirting and lintels of the shop windows and sawn tiles on the floor. The monolithic columns on pedestals of the alleyways and peristyles, the lintels and circumferences of windows, the ledges, abutments and corbelling are also made of blue stone. It is interesting to note that the tiles have an almost polished appearance just because of the heavy foot-traffic inside the building.

Church of St. Wadru, Belgian Blue Church of St. Wadru (Picture by Jose' Constantino)

Galeries Saint-Hubert in Brussels, Belgian BlueGaleries Saint-Hubert in Brussels (Picture by Audrius Meskauskas)

Thanks to its excellent technical qualities, the Belgian Blue is one of the best construction stones quarried in Europe, which can be used in all climates and, allowing many different finishes, it is perfectly suited for indoor and outdoor applications.

Belgian Blue indoor

This rock has also been used widely in sculpture and architecture by several well known artists (e.g. Mateo Hernández, Michel Smolders, Tom Blatt, Elise Delbrassinne, Benoît Luyckx, Santiago Calatrava, among others) and for more than 300 years has enhanced the beauty of countless projects in Belgium as well as abroad. 

"Hipopotamo", made of Belgian Blue, by Mateo Hernandez"Hipopotamo", made of Belgian Blue, by Mateo Hernandez in the Salamanca Museum (Picture from


Law Courts, Bolivarplaats, Anvers, BelgiumLaw Courts, Bolivarplaats, Anvers, Belgium (Picture from

The Belgian Blue, called also “Petit Granit”, is not actually a granite but a compact limestone (1). Its color, determined by the amount of organic matter present in the calcite crystals, is grey - from blue-grey to blue-black - and it becomes shiny black when the stone is polished. 

Belgian Blue Stone

The Belgian Blue has been extracted in several regions of South Belgium, especially in the Ardennes, since the Middle Ages. From the second half of the 19th century it has been used in various countries in Europe and overseas. Nowadays it is popular all over the world and in 1999 it got an Appellation d’Origine Locale (Local Appellation of Origin) designation. Around fifteen quarries are active these days and the quarrying and exportation of Belgian Blue represent an important part of the Belgian economy.

Soignies Belgium Blue Quarry Belgian Blue quarry in Soignies, Belgium (Picture by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT)

The Belgian Blue is the best choice for many kinds of applications and it can be considered as Global Heritage Stone Resource in Europe, for both its use in construction and for artistic purposes.

(1) It has sedimentary origin, resulting from the accumulation of innumerable crinoids items (Animals living in the seabed, which have calcium carbonate skeleton), cemented into a mass of microcrystalline calcite.

In Stock Antique Fireplace Mantels


CoorItalia has these four beautiful fireplace mantels in storage for sale:

Art Deco Fireplace 

Art Deco Marble Fireplace recovered from an apartment demolition in Paris
Period: 1920’s
Material: Breche Violette Marble
List Price: $3,800

Art Deco Fireplace

fireplace dimensions 



A=30", B=28",
C=43", D=13",
E=51", F=13"






“Palmettes” Fireplace

French fireplace in the Palmettes style in Carrara marble
Period: ca. 1840
Material: Carrara White Marble
List Price: $2,900

Palmettes Fireplace

fireplace dimensions



A=28.5", B=31.5",
C=38", D=15",
E=45.5", F=10"







“Parigina” Fireplace 

A 19th Century red marble fireplace with relief carvings, salvaged from a
Paris residence
Period: ca. 1870
Material: Red Marble
List Price: $1900

Parigina Fireplace

fireplace dimensions 


A=34.5", B=25.5",
C=40", D=13.5",
E=42", F=12"






Antiqued Fireplace

Giallo Istria Marble Fireplace, hand carved new in Italy and “antiqued”.
These fireplaces are fully customizable in terms of size and material
Period: custom made
Material: Giallo Istria Marble
List Price: $3,500

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fireplace dimensions 



A=32", B=38.5",
C=42", D=8", E=57",

"ESSENTIALS", the New Brombal Line for windows and doors!


Brombal has launched a new line! It's called ESSENTIALS and it features an exciting product that will provide you with more opportunities to sell Brombal on those tighter budget projects.

BUSA Essentials Line copyrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr resized 600Here's a quick rundown on the differences between ESSENTIALS and LUXURY lines:


 - up to 20% less on operating units

 - welded aluminum L or sloped glazing beads

 - sloped or flat aluminum SDL

 - welded to frame hinges (only vertical adjustment)

 - complete painting of thermal break

 - slightly less grinding of the frame and welds prior to finishing

 - available in Galvanized steel powder coat or zinc "Raw Steel" finish


LUXURY ­ (current product)

 - welded steel, bronze, CorTen glazing beads (square, sloped, L, gothic)

 - matching SDL or TDL in welded bronze, steel, CorTen

 - mechanically fastened fully adjustable hinges (vertical and horizontal)

 - masking off of thermal break prior to finishing

 - grinding smooth of all welds and frame

 - available in galvanized, stainless, CorTen, bronze metals



 - multi-point hardware

 - recycled metals

 - OS2 frames

 - standard lever choices

 - Factory applied flashing/nail fin with interior brackets, this is a new feature 

 - dual seal weather-stripping

 - lead times 14-18 weeks

ESSENTIAL LINE vs LUXURY LINE[1] uuuuStay tuned for all the most important news about our Windows&Doors partners’ lines!



Clay Tiles in Roofs Construction


The use of Terracotta for the production of tiles as roof material, dates back to ancient times; in this regard, we distinguish two basic types of roof tiles:

Barrel Tile -  Also called coppo in Italian, cylindrical shaped, slightly tapered (conical section). It is the oldest form.

Flat Tile - Present in numerous geographical variants, according to if it was used as both cap and pan, or usually as pan to a barrel tile cap. In the latter case they are now known as "Roman Pans."

Fire clay tiles have been used from the Mesopotamian civilization through the Greek, Etruscan-italic, Roman, and Byzantine one: an ancient history that unfolds, without interruption, through to today. It is during the Hellenistic period that the clay tiles evolve into a specialized building product, both from a technological/functional and aesthetical point of view.
It is interesting to note that in Greece - where there was a limited use of clay bricks, both raw and fired, because of the abundance of stones and marbles – there was an extensive use terracotta roof tiles. The need to protect and decorate the temples, made with more perishable materials (wood, mud-brick clay), lead Greek manufacturers to refine and adopt large-scale fire clay coatings.

The evolution of the gable roof with limited slope, with fronton and roof cladding in terracotta tiles, takes place in the Peloponnese, soon becoming the most popular feature for monumental buildings. It then spread out to all the colonized regions of Asia Minor, Sicily and Magna Graecia.

In the Hellenistic period two very different systems of terracotta roof cladding – both for the types of tiles and for the shape and color of the decoration – developed: the Spartan and the Corinthian roofs. The Corinthian one, more articulated and decorated, substituted the Spartan roof from the VI century B.C.

The Spartan roof basically consisted of barrel (semi-cylindrical) roof tiles overlapping each other as caps and pans alternatively. The Corinthian roof, more complicated, presents in its earliest stages a wide variety of forms: flat tiles with lateral curved margins or raised at a right angle (known today as Roman Pans because they became popular during the Roman period); and the barrel or triangulare tiles as caps. Sometimes these where made of a single piece (a Progenitor of the "S-tile")  we know today. Other special tiles that we still see today were created: for example the dedicated ridge tiles. The last elemnt of the roof would be  antefixes - vertical blocks which terminate the covering tiles of a tiled roof, with a decorative and practical objective at the same time, adorning the building and stopping the birds from nesting inside the hole - conceived as a simple closure of the Roman Pan’s end, with a palmette in relief.

Greek Temple, Clay Roof Tiles, Terracotta

Recreation of a Greek temple's Roof Cladding (G. A. Breymann, 1885)*

Greek colonies in western Sicily and Magna Graecia, developed a system of clay roof tiles that has traits of originality so we can actually identify a third type called Sicilian or Ionic. The characteristic feature of this system is represented by flat tiles combined with semi-cylindrical tiles. What most distinguished the Sicilian roof from the Spartan and Corinthian ones, however, is the absence of antefixes and the poverty of relief ornamentation.

Also in the Etruscan architecture, which preceded and for some centuries simultaneously developed with the Roman one, the use of terracotta elements for roof cladding had a long and important tradition. 

The typical Etruscan roof is extremely decorated and colorful. The ridge of the roof is characterized by large tiles adorned with fantastic figures of wild beasts or deified ancestors; the gutter line is closed by the antefixes, often representing monstrous, comical and bizarre faces. The kinds of roof tiles used by the Etruscans are flat and barrel shaped and they overlap each other. We have also examples of Roman Pans adorned with a griffin head.

Etruscan temple, Clay Roof Tiles, Terracotta

Recreation of an Etruscan temple, following the information of De Architectura by Vitruvio.     (F. Bombardi, 1990)*

The clay roof cladding of the Etruscan temples, from the VI century B.C., shows influences from the Greek world in the shape of flat and semi-cylindrical tiles; the same thing happens with the antefixes female head-shaped.

The roof covering used by the Romans, followed straight from the Etruscan and Greek, in particular from the Sicilian model: the flat tiles overlap each other transversely in the direction of the slope of the roof. The barrel tiles are generally placed to cover the lateral connections of the tiles. Traingular caps dissapear in favour of the tapered barrel shape with one end wider than the other to help installation


Roman roof made of both barrel and flat tiles

Example of Roman roof made of both barrel and flat tiles. 

The Roman flat roof tiles have a pretty standard shape (rectangular or trapezoidal), while there are several variables regarding the size. Like the flat tiles, also Roman barrel tiles have few variations: predominantly barrel shape is now the preferred shape and the coice being straight or tapered edges to fit with the rectangular or trapezoid pans. Their typical reddish-brown color was due to a strong firing required to make such products, porous by nature, more waterproof.

The same technology developed by the Romans survived the fall of the West Empire, transmigrating into Europe and, in particular, in the Italy of the early Middle Ages. The monumental Roman public buildings, many of which have fallen into disuse, were seen as major deposits of stones, bricks, and roof tiles.

During late Middle Ages, there were attempts to standardize the brick production. Of all the craftsmen active in various fields of building production, furnaces workers were the most subject to regulation. Governments attempted to control the prices of bricks in order to protect the public's interest in the area that covered the basic building material. It became essential to check the size of the bricks, as the furnace worker, when dealing with a selling fixed price, was tempted to cut costs by reducing the size of the product. So the second half of the thirteenth century onwards the municipal statutes of Venice, Padua, Pisa, Rome, Siena and other cities' fixed the measurements for the bricks and bags of lime and regulated prices for each product type. ​Municipal statutes built models of bricks that were used as official unit of measurement. Sometimes the official model was accessible and permanently exposed in a public place. A city where you can still see on public display samples of bricks and tiles is, among others, Assisi.  There is a reference sizes tool (“Abaco”) for the municipal measures for terracotta roof tiles and bricks at the base of the tower of Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, with an inscription bearing the date of 1349.

Abaco, Clay Roof Tiles measurement

Abaco for the municipal measures for terracotta roof tiles and bricks at the base of the tower of Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Assisi, Italy.*

A legend says that the typical curved barrel tile’s shape comes from the manufacturing, which used to take place on the top of the brick-maker’s thigh. Actually the tiles were "formed" - this is the exact term - in a mold of wood, prepared by a laborer. The shape was convex and had the edges on all 4 sides, edges that allowed manual compression of the mud clay, called marl. The lines on the back of the tile originated from the fingerprints of the brick-maker, who pressed the clay into shape for 600/700, even 800 times a day. After the press, the artifact was left to dry in the sun for at least one/two hours. Once the wooden molds were all used, the brick-maker used to peel the raw tiles and put them in a bed of sand to make them dry. After 20/30 days of drying they were placed in the kiln and fired for several days.

In order to allow an efficient flow of rainwater, the use of the tiles had to be necessarily associated with the construction of pitched roofs; it means that tiles have been the exclusive roofing system until the advent of reinforced concrete (early 1900), which has allowed the construction of flat roofs, waterproofed by application of tarred paper. The use of tiles remains extremely popular for aesthetic reasons, preservation of scenic and historical heritage, and also for the efficiency of the material in terms of thermal and hydro insulation.

Roman Clay Roof Tiles

Roman Roof Tops: patching up roofs is an organic, ongoing process.

Given the extreme diversity of geographical contexts in which the tiles were used in Europe, it was inevitable that they would have evolved to various shapes and sizes. 

The tile can also vary depending on its position on the roof (for example, those on the ridge are larger than those on the sloping areas). The color of the tiles is another important variable: it changes according to the different geographical regions because different clay produces different color tiles, but also different firing times and temperatures affect the final color.

This is still the most common type of roofing throughout Mediterranean countries and it is still considered very affordable.

The features that characterize terracotta roof tiles and make them the most popular choice are:

  • Excellent resistance to water and frost.

  • Exceptional thermal insulation by reducing unwanted heat loss or gain and decreasing the energy demands of heating and cooling system.

  • Longevity, a lifetime measured in centuries.

  • Porosity, which allows vapors formed underneath the roof to be absorbed and then evaporated on the outside.

  • Architectural versatility.

In Europe there are numerous clay roof tiles production centers that use both traditional techniques and innovative materials and designs. 

It is important to say that it is becoming more and more popular in the construction and architecture industry to reclaim, resell and reuse old tiles, which have a unique and amazing allure due to time, wear and character.

Roman Roof top

Eternal Roman Roof Tops

* Pictures from Tetti in Laterizio by Alfonso Acocella, Laterconsult Pubblisher, Roma, 1994

CoorItalia's New Home in San Francisco


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After over 10 years in San Carlos, CoorItalia has recently moved to a brand new showroom in San Francisco's Design District. We have doubled our showroom space and have separated our Windows & Doors Exhibit Area from the Architectural Elements Area.

The Showroom and Offices were designed by Nicole Hollis to avoid the usual pitfalls of many showrooms that become harlequin mishmashes of all the materials on view. Instead the goal was to have a uniform, clean look with a single floor type (Belgian Blue Limetone) and pull out cabinets custom-made to handle larger slabs of stone aranged by tonality. The underlying concept was to create a space where Designers, Architects and their Clients could view options without feeling overwhelmed with visual noise.

Some design highlights also include a custom-made corten steel bookshelf for the Entry as well as a travertine bush-hammered clad wall that recalls one of CoorItalia's projects in San Francisco.

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With over two hundred different kinds of stone, our examples of new and antique terracotta downstairs, and our latest steel, bronze and wood windows and doors upstairs it might be time to stop by. We even have dedicated parking!

You will find us at 151 Vermont Street, Unit #10

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IMG 0212 (Custom)

CoorItalia Steel Bronze Doors Pass Miami Dade Certification


CoorItalia is pleased to announce that Brombal USA, the manufacturers of its Steel and Bronze Windows and Doors, have passed Miami Dade certification.

There are a number of standards that regulate the air & water infiltration standards as well as deformation under stress. Whereas the majority of the USA works under AAMA Standard – 101/I.S.2-A440, the County of Miami Dade (because of their numerous hurricanes) additionally requires the units to twice successfully stop an 8', 9lb 2x4 that is fired at the window at 50fps (34mph).

Brombal USA are now the first company ever to offer thermally broken steel, bronze, stainless steel and corten hurricane and impact rated product. BROMBAL’s EBE series 6' x 9' double door breezed its way through impact and hurricane testing with a DP rating of 65. That means that the units are tested for air, water infiltration and deformation at a wind equivalent of 160mph and any door that size (or less) is certified. Additionally, the 5’ x 12' narrow sightline rectangular mulled fixed units also passed and are now officially impact and hurricane certified. The narrow sightline certification allows the units to be mulled together to encompass larger spans of glass and continue to maintain the hurricane and impact certification.


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