Investigators look into broken windows at New York Times building

January 15, 2008
COMMERCIAL
High winds, not faulty glass, blamed for breaks

Seven cracked windows on the recently opened New York Times Building in Manhattan have caught the attention of the New York City Department of Buildings , according to a Jan. 10 article from Engineering News-Record. DOB investigators were expected to tour the site Jan. 11.

Officials from the DOB said in the ENR article that high winds were being blamed for the broken glass, according to the article.

“Cracked windows are an unfortunate but very real part of constructing tall buildings,” says Abbe Ruttenberg Serphos, director of public relations for the New York Times Co. “We have had a very small percentage of window breakage compared with other buildings of this size. We will continue to inspect the windows on a regular basis.”

John Frank, general manager for Benson Industries Inc., New York, the glazing contractor on the job, says the glass on the job met wind-load building codes from the city of New York. A wind tunnel test was also performed, he says.

New York City requires all buildings meet wind load requirements specified in the American Society of Civil Engineers wind load provisions, ASCE 7. Read New York’s building codes here.

Benson installed 1-inch insulating glass units with heat-strengthened ¼-inch lites and a low-emissivity coating. Viracon, Owatonna, Minn., fabricated the glass on the job.

“There have been reports, some of broken [lites] during construction. … It’s not like there’s something wrong with the glass,” Frank says.

Frank says the reports of breakage don’t indicate problems with the glass, such as nickel sulfide inclusions that can cause tempered glass to break without warning. Nickel sulfide inclusions can cause problems with tempered glass, not heat strengthened glass, as used on the New York Times Building.

Read a Viracon report about how to reduce the risk of spontaneous breakage through heat-soak testing here. Viracon has performed heat-soak testing on glass since 1984.

Read a Glass Magazine article about nickel sulfide inclusions in the October 2006 issue.

—By Katy Devlin, e-glassweekly editor, and Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine, AutoGlass.