The "Feather White" Project
No one seems to remember just when we received the first phone call from Wah Heng Glass Holdings, PTE., in Singapore. But the gentleman on the line had an interesting story to tell. His firm was under contract to supply and install the fenestration for a giant hotel & office complex under construction on the Singapore waterfront. It seems that the owners, Ritz Carlton, wanted to do something dramatically different this time, and had convinced the architects to take a look at a glass called "Spectrum Feather White."
The glass was our #307S—and, they were fascinated with the possibilities of an iridescent coating as well. Challenge: the glass would have to meet safety glazing standards, and be slumped or bent to fit the massive curving architectural design.
We were interested in supplying the glass, of course, if for no other reason than the spectacular showcase it would make. But this application was quite a bit different than the common uses of our glass, and we knew our expertise ended once the glass sheets were produced. But after a little research, we were able to put Wah Heng in contact with two companies who had the facilities and the knowhow to heat-strengthen, laminate and bend sheet glass.
Eventually, they chose a company called Tempa, architectural glass specialists in Vancouver, BC. We sent Tempa some sample sheets and they went to work making prototypes. Manufacturing the units was a true challenge using art glass. Heat strengthening and liquid lamination involve placing heavy stresses on the glass, and the iridescent coating had to stand up to the temperatures required for both strengthening and bending. Ultimately, our normal glass sheets were deemed to be too thin to undergo the process within acceptable breakage parameters. So, with Tempa's blessing, we did some experimenting of our own and supplied their needs with extra thick glass sheets (about .150" vs our normal .125" thick).
In case this all sounds way too easy, understand that over a year and a half passed between that first phone call from Wah Heng and the day the first glass shipment left our loading docks. Making it happen required the careful and patient cooperation of countless entities down the line. It's a rare occasion for Spectrum to produce a "custom" order, but we felt that the possibilities and potential of such a massive architectural installation were too great to ignore.
The finished project is a wonder to behold. One enters the hotel through a cavernous tunnel of iridescent "Feather White." The entry tunnel crosses with an identical structure within the lobby area whose arms extend in a sparkling white expanse toward opposite ends of the facility.
The designers took the art glass theme a giant step further by including two incredible Dale Chihuly sculptures at each tunnel end. These were the first installations of the artist's new "Anemone Walls." The brightly colored mouthblown tentacles are mounted on sandstone walls that reflect the colors toward the roof and floor, creating the vivid impression of fireworks exploding beneath the great white ceiling arches.
The associated office complex appears to be a skyscraper mounted on four tremendous cylinders clad in Feather White. Inside, as sun blows through the circular glass walls, interiors are cast in the subtle, eerie colors of iridescent light.