From glass doors to glass fronts, backs and tops, winning entrants in an annual automotive design competition see glass as the material that offers distinctive styling that makes vehicles unique while providing flexibility, enhancing safety and making the ride fun.
Students at Detroit's College for Creative Studies (CCS) competed in the annual design competition sponsored by PPG Industries Inc., creating concepts for a mid-luxury vehicle.
The winners of the 2005 PPG Design Challenge Awards are:
PPG's Joe Stas, vice president, automotive OEM glass, announced the winners at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. The students received glass trophies and scholarships of $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third.
The students were challenged to design a mid-luxury vehicle for a target consumer named Steven, an over-55, affluent white-collar professional needing a safe, flexible vehicle with refinement for passengers as well as utility.
Concepts were judged on creative fulfillment of the profiled consumer's needs, demonstration of unique, new window systems from exterior and interior (occupant) perspectives with due consideration to glass material and processing characteristics, display of unique interior design features for function, comfort, convenience and aesthetics, and creative use of color and texture to enhance appeal.
Judges were Scott Anderson, designer, product design office, DaimlerChrysler Corp.; Melvin Betancourt, design manager, vehicle personalization, specialty vehicle team and SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Program, Ford Motor Co.; Bob Boniface, design director, General Motors Corp., all CCS graduates; and Ken Lee, designer, Nissan Design America.
J.D. Power and Associates has cooperated with PPG since the competition's inception, and each year Power automotive industry experts define the design parameters.
Nine transportation design sophomores presented concepts supported by artwork and clay models for judging.
Kindratyshyn elongates the windshield, with the back window echoing it. Glass roof panels and three-panel glass doors are moveable for transforming the vehicle "from formal luxury to windy fun in seconds." Glass doors fit inside an indented frame and give the sides transparency. Made of three glass sections, each door can be lowered to hip level to allow occupants to enjoy the breeze, "creating a fun experience for an outdoors enthusiast," Kindratyshyn said. He suspends the doors on arms to allow them to move upward for passenger entry, and move downward to close into place.
"The main design feature is the use of glowing glass throughout the exterior," he noted. "Essentially, every source of light on the exterior of the car is incorporated into the glass bands. The glowing bands on the sides of the vehicle highlight the daylight opening and function as dramatic turn signals. Likewise, the bands surrounding the windshield and back window act as headlights and taillights. Such use of light not only adds safety by making the vehicle more visible at night, but creates a unique, sophisticated, dramatic style by attracting attention to itself and the owner."
According to Nissan's Lee, Kindratyshyn's concept was well thought out.
"This was the most complete and thorough presentation, with excellent sketches and model," he said. "His vehicle has good proportions and stance."
"His use of glass reinforced his concept which allowed his customer, who was enthusiastic about the outdoors, to enjoy the scenery at all times," DaimlerChrysler's Anderson said, adding that lighting the glass gave it a night as well as day signature.
Reed's glass carries a triangular theme in the windshield, side doors and back. The massive windshield curves over the front bumper, bending down on the sides almost at a right angle, forming a glass triangle on each side. Glass spans the roof to meet the door window glass that triangulates down to a point.
"I wanted to visually increase the amount of visibility in the car," Reed explained. "I moved the A pillar back and made the B pillar larger so that it could support more glass as it wrapped around the car. This allowed me to replace the hood, roof and trunk with glass and still meet the needed safety measures."
The judges liked the unique proportions of Reed's design. "It shows the designer's willingness to be adventurous with new themes," Lee said.
DaimlerChrysler's Anderson liked Reed's placement of glass over the center of the car which gives it an interesting proportion. Anderson noted that Reed took advantage of the importance of glass in the design with the vehicle's cab-forward proportion.
Inspired by the honeycomb pattern, he places hexagonally shaped glass doors deep inside door frames. The sharply raked windshield comes to a point on the bottom and top edges, nearly meeting the back window. Completing the car are the hexagonal massive curved back window and perpendicular glass panel that enclose the trunk.
"I went on to the direction of developing a car that looks safe and also is structurally safe with the addition of all the glass," Chan said. "I also looked into how to integrate the glass as a safety feature. Therefore it would be used more than just to look through where it would serve a major purpose of the design."
Chan chose the honeycomb as his theme because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, he said. "By using the honeycomb structure, I was able to place more glass on the car and balance the weight without compromising structural integrity," he said. "The huge amounts of glass give the passengers a more open feeling, yet the glass is enclosed in a frame so people inside can feel safe and secure."
He takes inspiration from the lobster and clamshell to design "multiple cutlines" on the back window for use as brake lights shaped to give the glass the look of scales. The lights indicate braking pressure and are placed for other drivers to see easily. Shining light on the edges of the glass gives it a glow, while maintaining its transparency, according to Chan. "This feature fulfills the criteria of finding a new way to use glass without altering its properties."
According to Nissan's Lee, Chan's "overall design is modern and interesting. The creative use of edge-lit lighting on the glass is particularly clever and well integrated with the vehicle."
Anderson recommended Chan for his clamshell-like front-end design that was made possible through the use of hexagonal structure. "This allowed the bumper and hood to appear to float, making it a unique design."
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