Viracon Awarded Contract for Freedom Tower in New York

Benson Industries of Portland, Ore., which was recently awarded the curtainwall contract for New York City's World Trade Center Tower One, named Viracon Inc. of Owatonna, Minn., glass supplier for the project.

World Trade Center Tower One, also known as the Freedom Tower, is being developed by the Port Authority of New York& New Jersey and will be constructed on the site of the World Trade Center buildings destroyed by terrorists in 2001.

At 1,776 feet tall the tower is designed to serve as a tribute to our country's freedom, celebrating the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Once completed, the Freedom Tower will be the largest building in North America.

"This is an extremely proud day for all of Viracon's 2,600 employees," Brad J. Austin, Viracon's senior vice president, says.

Over the past four years, Viracon assisted New York architects at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to provide the best possible glass solution to achieve the aesthetic design, energy and security performance required for the project. The Freedom Tower is the first of four buildings to be constructed at the site.

"The architects at SOM relied on Viracon to provide 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," Austin says.

SOM's design for the Freedom Tower requires extremely long, highly transparent glass lites that also provide energy efficiency and security. "To create the feeling of openness, the architects challenged us to fabricate exceptionally large-sized insulating glass units, which are well above the industry standard," Rick Voelker, vice president of technical services at Viracon says. "The glass sizes to be used are approximately two feet longer than typical fabrication limits." Viracon made significant investments into equipment and material processing in order to accommodate the increased sizes.

With the great amount of transparency that will result from using such large glass lites, energy efficiency was an immediate challenge. In response, SOM specified Viracon's VRE-54 coating on highly transparent low-iron glass for the Freedom Tower project.

The VRE coating is referred to as a hybrid coating because of its ability to simultaneously provide a crisp neutral appearance, combined with high levels of energy performance and light transmission.

Viracon expects to begin fabrication on the Freedom Tower at its Owatonna facility in 2008. The building will contain just less than one million square feet of glass, making it one of the largest contracts Viracon has ever been awarded.

In addition, Viracon is currently working on proposals for the three other buildings to be constructed at the World Trade Center site.

"It was a great honor for Viracon to supply the glass on the Seven World Trade Center project, which opened in 2006," Austin says. "And it is indeed a privilege to be selected as the glass supplier for the Freedom Tower project, which undoubtedly will be one of the world's most prominent buildings."