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.

“This is an extremely proud day for all of Viracon’s 2,600 employees,” said Brad J. Austin, Viracon’s Senior Vice President. Over the past four years, Viracon has 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.

At 1,776 feet tall, a tribute to our country’s freedom with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, 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 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,” says Austin.

SOM’s design for the Freedom Tower requires extremely long pieces of glass that are highly transparent and, at the same time, provide superior energy efficiency and security. Viracon installed custom fabrication equipment to meet the needs of the project. “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,” says Rick Voelker, Vice President of Technical Services at Viracon.

“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. Viracon is the only US fabricator with the ability to work with such large sizes for energy efficient coated insulating glass.

With all the transparency created by such large pieces of glass, energy efficiency became 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, Minnesota 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 been awarded in its history.

Viracon is currently working on proposals for the three additional 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, and it is indeed a privilege for Viracon to be selected as the glass supplier for the Freedom Tower project, which undoubtedly will be one of the world’s most prominent buildings,” concludes Austin.