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Viracon chosen to provide glass for Freedom Tower in NYC
Local manufacturer unsure if Boro plant will supply project
Freedom tower 1.jpg
The artist's rendering created by dbox inc. and released by the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 shows the latest design of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower in New York.
Benson Industries of Portland, Oregon, who was recently awarded the curtain wall contract for the World Trade Center Tower One, has named Viracon, Inc. of Owatonna, Minnesota as their glass supplier for the project.  
    The 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 Freedom Tower will be the tallest building in North America when complete.
    Viracon, the largest single source glass fabricator in the country, was selected based on the company’s ability to achieve stringent design and performance criteria for glass.  
     “The architects at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in New York 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,” said Brad J. Austin, Viracon's senior vice president.  
    Over the past four years, Viracon has assisted architects at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to determine 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.
    Bob Randall, vice president of operations in charge of Viracon's manufacturing plant in Statesboro, said he is unsure how much of the one million square feet of glass ordered for the new tower will be produced in the Statesboro plant.
    "I imagine that most of the glass will be produced in our Minnesota facility due to the extra-heavy, oversize characteristics of the bulk quantities required," Randall said. "It is too early to determine how much of the order we would be able to produce here."
    Randall is very proud of Viracon's accomplishment and industry reputation.
    "Winning the contract for this building is indicative of Viracon’s position as a leader in the commercial construction marketplace," Randall said. "While this contract alone will not affect our employment levels company wide, demand continues to outpace our capacity, so we remain in growth mode in Statesboro as well as in our other locations."
    Randall said most people think that Viracon produces glass when in actuality they fabricate or work with raw glass that has been produced somewhere else, customizing it to meet the customer's needs.
    "We receive sheets of glass from outside suppliers, then we customize the material by cutting it to size, strengthening it, coating it for energy efficiency, laminating it for safety and insulating it for additional energy efficiency," Randall said. "Viracon is able to customize glass to achieve an architect’s vision.  That is why the design for the Freedom Tower was based on Viracon’s capabilities."
    Randall said Viracon recently opened its third production facility this past April in Utah.
    "Our new Utah plant is 250,000 square feet which is roughly one half of the size of the Statesboro operation," he said.
    Viracon is based in Owatonna, Minnesota and has 2600 employees company wide. The Statesboro plant, which is located in the Gateway Industrial Park, was built in 1998 and employees 600 people.
    Randall said the Statesboro Viracon plant is currently producing glass for Trump Tower Chicago, Sovereign Buckhead, Indianapolis Airport and Repsol Argentina among others.

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