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A USGlass Magazine Special Investigative Report: U.S. Suppliers Do the Design Work but Overseas Company Gets the Job for Portion of One World Trade Center

Post Time:Apr 01,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:307

The following is a special investigative report conducted by USGlass magazine over the past few months concerning the glass to be used at One World Trade Center.

It will stand as a sign of freedom—One World Trade Center, formerly known as The Freedom Tower, currently under construction at the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City. The bid process for this prestigious project began for some glass companies a few years ago and ended this month when they learned they weren't awarded the project. This alone was not an unusual occurrence—except that these companies collectively had invested a high seven figures in developing products specific to this project.

Ultimately the final contract for glass for the podium wall (lower 20 stories) of One World Trade Center has been awarded to a Chinese manufacturer.

North American companies including Barber Glass Industries Inc., a full service glass fabricator located near Toronto, and Johnson Screens, with U.S. offices in New Brighton, Minn., and PPG Industries, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., provided significant technical support to this project's development.

After the completion of a significant number of hours of work, Barber Glass Industries Inc. submitted a proposal to fabricate a base glass product that was to be supplied by PPG. Both PPG and Johnson Screens were noted in Barber's project specification as the preferred and specified suppliers.

Under the original bid design for the project, the main supply companies were scheduled to:

Make additions to their offering that would include the manufacture of low iron glass in PPG's U.S. facilities in available thicknesses up to 1-inch.
Based on the architectural specification, Barber Glass Industries Inc. would fabricate, and laminate glass supplied by PPG Industries in line with the Barber Glass "Ridge Line" Prismatic design.
Further based on the architectural specification, Johnson Screens would provide the back-up screen that would hold the Prismatic Glass onto the face of the building.

Following the completion of the formal bid process, none of these companies were chosen to work on the project.

Of the three bidders that were considered for the installation contract, two of them (APG International in Glassboro, N.J., and W&W Glass LLC in Nanuet, N.Y.) have headquarters in the United States. The third, DCM Erectors, has offices in Toronto as well as New York.

Ultimately the contract for the installation of the podium wall was awarded to DCM Erectors.

Sources who wish to remain anonymous say that although the bid from DCM Erectors was significantly more expensive than both APG and W&W in its original proposal, DCM offered a significant savings by proposing that foreign supply sources be used for the Podium Wall components. (USGlass magazine spoke to Joe Begley from DCM's curtainwall division who said he wanted to speak to us for this article but needed permission from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey first due to confidentiality issues. USGlass requested this permission from the Port Authority but did not receive a response.)

In the end both Barber Glass Industries and Johnson Screens received a short letter from DCM Erectors saying it would be awarding material supply contracts to an alternate supplier.

In early February, before the job was awarded, USGlass asked Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman about the possibility that this glass might be manufactured in China.

"I will say this is an open procurement process," says Coleman. "We're a public agency and we solicit bids and award projects based on their ability to do the work and at the lowest price."

After the contract was awarded this month he told USGlass, "Our contract is with DCM/Solera. That firm hired a sub, Zetian, an American company, to procure the glass from a Chinese manufacturer which is producing the 'starlite' low-iron glass under the Pittsburgh glass license," says Coleman.

Source: USGlass MagazineAuthor: shangyi

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