International collaboration to produce protective facades for skyscrapers

An international collaborating trio builds protective facades for skyscrapers and overcomes such daunting challenges as tight schedules and intricate building designs.

When Enclos, a US design, engineering and installation firm, secured the deal to build the curtain walls, or protective facades (see sidebar), of two high-profile skyscrapers in 2006, it knew exactly who to turn to for help.

“Our manufacturer in Thailand, Envelex, was looking for a highquality supplier of gaskets,” recalls Dan Green, Enclos’s US West Coast General Manager. Gaskets are elastomer seals wedged between a curtain wall’s frame and its glass panels, which prevent air and water from leaking into the building. “We recommended Envelex to contact Mike Scanlon and Trelleborg EPG since it is one of our preferred gasket suppliers. The US-based Trelleborg company has consistently provided quality materials, prompt response and proactive design input.”

Enclos had begun work on two extraordinary skyscrapers. One in Las Vegas, a USD 2.2 billion, 61-floor hotel-casino for the Sin City magnate Steve Wynn, called Encore (“Again” in French), which will open its doors in early 2009. The second building, in Los Angeles, is a USD 900 M, 54-storey tower and part of a massive redevelopment project aiming to revitalize the city’s downtown area. The building, named LA Live, is set for completion in 2010.

The challenges relating to Encore and LA Live were daunting. For instance, the Encore project ran to a tough schedule with heavy penalties. “If the project construction missed a deadline, we could have been fined substantially for each day of a delay,” says Green. “But Trelleborg EPG and Envelex worked to an aggressive schedule and continue to deliver materials on time or ahead of schedule. They have always stepped up, responded quickly and know what’s at stake if problems arise.” Meanwhile, on LA Live, the top challenge was to contend with a unique architectural design. “The tower is an architect’s dream, but it is very challenging in terms of engineering,” explains Paul Cannon, Director of Envelex. “There are few flat walls, and a lot of features and projections.”

On both projects, it was also paramount to have the best-quality seals. “If you use sub-standard gaskets, you can have a catastrophic problem on your hands,” explains Cannon. “Once the major rainscreen and airseal gaskets are installed in the curtain wall, and the curtain wall is clad on the building, you can’t access them anymore, so you can’t replace them. In Trelleborg EPG, we found a highly reliable partner.”

Envelex, Enclos and Trelleborg EPG are finishing their work on Encore, with the curtain wall close to covering the building completely, they will now focus their efforts more closely on the LA Live project. Towards the end of the year, they will conduct a mock-up test on a 14-meter wide and 12-meter tall model of their curtain wall.

“The wall will be tested to certify its performance in relation to project specifications,” says Scanlon. “It will be subjected to hurricane and seismic simulation. This series of tests will confirm that the wall system meets air, water, structural and thermal requirements as specified by the curtain wall consultant.”

Throughout this process, all parties emphasize that the key to their success has been their close working relationship. “We are not just clients and customers, we are business partners,” says Scanlon. “We already know we will do business together again,” concludes Green.

Award winning protection

A curtain wall is the protective façade cladding a building. It usually consists of an aluminium frame, with metal and glass panels wedged into it. Usually built separately from the building and then “added on” to it, a curtain wall can sometimes be built piece-by-piece on site. The aim of a curtain wall is to protect and seal the building from the outside elements. “It must keep out the air, water, sound, pollution, dust, and insects … It must even resist hurricanes and flying debris, such as trees,” explains Mike Scanlon, Vice President for Sales and Marketing for Trelleborg EPG, a leading provider of gaskets for the glazing industry based in Ohio.

Trelleborg acquired the company in 2006. That same year, Trelleborg EPG completed one of its most high-profile projects, when it provided 30,000 gaskets for the curtain wall of the Symphony Tower, an award-winning glass skyscraper in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The building won the prestigious Emporis Skyscraper Award, which recognizes the best new high-rises built. “The curtain wall was glazed on-site, which is not that common anymore,” says Scanlon.

The buzz of Las Vegas which is set for completion in 2010.

The Symphony Tower in Atlanta, also called the 1180 Peachtree building, has won the Emporis Skyscraper Award.

The LA Live building in Los Angeles.

For further information:

TEXT: Gwladys Fouché PHOTO: Trelleborg, Getty Images and Enclos

Article supplied by Minett Media