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Curtain-Wall Testing Pioneer 'Sak' Sakhnovsky is Dead at 84

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Alexander A. “Sak” Sakhnovsky, a pioneer of test methods for curtain-wall stability, died of heart failure at age 84 on June 19 in Miami.

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George White

While running a housing research laboratory at the University of Miami, Sakhnovsky was among the first to perform window testing, in 1954. A trained chemist, he was instrumental in developing, in the 1960s, the American Society for Testing Materials' static water- leakage test. It remains virtually unchanged today. Sakhnovsky bought the lab and launched Construction Research Laboratory Inc. (CRL), Medley, Fla., in 1968.

CRL is considered the world's first and largest curtain-wall test facility, with 40 test chambers, half of which are 35 ft high or taller, and two 2,650-hp aircraft engines that simulate hurricane-like winds. As president and principal, Sakhnovsky oversaw testing of 4,000 full-size curtain walls and thousands of windows, doors, roofs and other products. The 15-person firm says it will remain in business.

“Sak had an uncanny knack for suggesting incredibly efficient solutions to confounding detail problems during the heat of failed mock-up testing,” says Charles Clift, president of Curtain Wall Design & Consulting Inc., Dallas. Adds Mic Patterson, director of strategic development for Enclos Corp., a New York City-based curtain-wall manufacturer and installer, “He has left us with the tools, techniques and test methods to accommodate future building-skin demands.”

Sakhnovsky's groundbreaking work helped architects, manufacturers and engineers develop and execute ambitious designs for taller, larger and distinctly shaped buildings, such as Chicago's Sears (now Willis) Tower, the World Trade Center in New York City, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, among many others. He lectured and conducted seminars globally.

Says Marc Weissbach, chief operating officer of Israel Berger & Associates, a New York City facade consultant and CRL client, “Sak was an icon in our industry.”


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