Retractable glass walls are increasingly becoming a standard offering and not just a specialty. And one reason may be that people are starting to expect these streamlined entrances in both commercial and residential environments, says Andrew Haring, vice president of business development at the National Glass Association. “The places we live, work, and play in are all subject to real-estate compression,” Haring says, explaining that we all expect to squeeze into a smaller footprint. “Glass seems to be the effective space-saving conduit,” he adds.

The revelation is not lost on manufacturers of doors and operable walls, which are keeping pace and rolling out new technical and aesthetic features. Arc3D, by DoorWall Systems, is exemplary in its ability to seamlessly integrate an operable door in glass facades without the clutter of hydraulics or cables; instead it uses a direct-drive system. The garage–style door boasts a thermally broken aluminum frame and 1 5/16” triple-pane insulated safety glass.

As interior walls, glass is also an increasing solution. To add noise-control, NanaWall’s AcoustiFOLD, out this year, provides a floor-supported folding wall with sound-dampening glass, discreet gaskets, and an STC rating of up to 45. Additionally, the wall’s flush sill is ADA-compliant for a truly seamless transition.

While horizontal sliding-door systems retract into the walls to eliminate door swings, not all walls can be made to accommodate the necessary door pocket. Some manufacturers are even addressing this hurdle, by enabling designers to specify a guillotine-, garage-, or hangar-style system. One example is HIRT’s SF90 Descending Wall, which as its name suggests, lowers at the press of a button and disappears into the floor to open up an interior space. In units of up to 20-feet square, SF90 provides the same thermal insulation and air- and water-tightness as its horizontal sliding counterparts. The appeal of all of these advanced doorway offerings is simple, says Haring: “Bring the outside in when you want, and keep the weather out.”