Viracon, Benson, win Freedom Tower contract

May 15, 2007
COMMERCIAL


Rendering from USA Today.
To see more images of Freedom Tower,
click here.

When the 1,776-foot tall Freedom Tower opens at Ground Zero in New York, it will feature about a million square feet of glass and glazing from fabricator Viracon of Owatonna, Minn., and curtain wall company Benson Industries of Portland, Oregon.

During the last week of April, Benson Industries secured the $160.7 million contract from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for Freedom Tower, also called World Trade Center One.

Benson named Viracon the glass supplier May 8, according to a same-day Viracon release.

New York architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed the tower to offer ample daylighting while providing security for inhabitants, said Brad Austin, Viracon’s senior vice president, in the release. SOM required “a glass product that marries form and function together to achieve the design intent of the project with highly functional glass performance in terms of energy efficiency, security and safety,” he said in the release.

To achieve that, the tower will feature highly transparent lites using a VRE-54 coating to limit heat gain and maximize efficiency. Details about the glass composition can’t be disclosed for security reasons.

The glass units are taller than traditional lites, said Rick Voelker, vice president of technical services, in the release. “The glass sizes to be used are approximately 2 feet longer than typical fabrication limits,” he said.

Viracon installed new equipment that produces IG units up to 165 inches to meet for the large specifications on the Freedom Tower. Former capabilities allowed for lengths of 144 inches.

The tower is set to feature a base made of laminated glass panels topped with glass prisms that will provide rainbow reflections when the sun hits it.

Benson will supply a custom-framing system for the project. In an April 28 article from The Oregonian, Benson manager John Beaulieu said the façade will minimize the impact of a potential attack. “The building is designed to withstand any type of attack so we don't have a repeat of what happened," he said.

Freedom Tower is the second World Trade Center project for Viracon, which supplied the glass for the 52-story Seven World Trade Center, completed last year.

“Compared to Seven World Trade Center, the glass for the Freedom Tower will not incorporate a silk-screen pattern,” says Christine Shaffer, Viracon’s marketing manager. “They will … have similar performance.”

Viracon is putting together proposals for the additional three buildings planned for the World Trade Center site, Austin said in the release.

—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor, e-glass weekly