Quality Starts 5,000 Miles Away

The journey from raw materials to finished glass panels for the Symphony Honolulu residential condominium tower requires a high-degree of planning, scheduling, and coordination. To meet developer OliverMcMillan’s quality expectations, the journey starts 5,000 miles from the jobsite.
The glass on Symphony Honolulu is held together
by structural sealant.

Quality was critical in every step of the process.


Symphony Honolulu is PCL’s 43-story luxury condominium project in Honolulu, Hawaii​. Like a symphony conductor, the project team must orchestrate the procurement of material from across North America, ensuring it arrives on time and meets the client’s quality expectations. 

“OliverMcMillan takes great pride in attention to every detail,” said Kris Hui, senior project manager for OliverMcMillan. “Our selection of PCL for this project is a sign of our trust and confidence in PCL’s shared vision and attention to detail which is essential to ‘making special places happen’ for our homeowners and tenants. PCL has been the key partner in our commitment to quality.”

Each story’s glass walls are held in place using only silicone sealant, resulting in a stunning, clean-line design. Known as structural silicone glazing (SSG), this particular system consists of 6,500 individual window wall panels that are fabricated, assembled, and delivered to the jobsite after a 5,000 mile journey across the United States.

Quality​​ is critical at each step of the process because the window frames cannot be modified on-site if they’re manufactured incorrectly,” said Terry Brickman, PCL’s national director of Quality Management. “In addition, the structural sealant that holds the glass onto the window frames must be prepared correctly. Two components make the sealant, and they must be mixed and cured properly to achieve the necessary structural strength.”


The journey of the glass walls begins at a plant outside of Fresno, California. Sand, dolomite, and limestone are mixed and heated to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Once in a molten state, the material is poured onto a bath of molten tin to create perfectly flat sheets of glass. After cooling, the sheets are cut, trimmed, and crated for shipment.

The raw sheets of glass are trucked 750 miles to a plant in St. George, Utah, where they’re cut to an exact size, heated again, and then quickly cooled to temper them. Each piece is digitally analyzed to ensure the glass is flat. It is then fed into a large coating machine that “sputters” metallic chemicals and materials onto the surface of the glass, to specified color characteristics.

Two sheets of glass are then sealed together with an air space that forms a double-glazed sealed unit. Once the two sheets are sealed, a capillary tube is inserted to account for the differential in elevation pressure between the fabrication plant and the jobsite. A critical quality control task at the site is to seal the capillary tube prior to the frame installation.


The sealed units are transported 750 miles to Denver, Colorado, where they are assembled into 6,500 aluminum window frames. The assembly process begins with an inspection of each piece of glass for any damage, scratches, or imperfections.

The individually sealed glass units are matched with aluminum frames and prepared for the silicone sealant. The structural sealant must be precisely mixed in a two-part assembly process to obtain the strength characteristics required and cured for a minimum of four hours. Once fully cured, the assembled units are crated and shipped 3,500 miles to Hawaii via truck and container ship.

“The most interesting aspect from a quality standpoint is that the glass is held onto the outside of the aluminum framing with only structural sealant,” said Eric Ballew, PCL’s  project manager for Symphony Honolulu. “This is significantly different from glass design in the past, where aluminum pressure plates were required to hold the glass onto the frames with screws and attachment bars.”

Once in Hawaii, having traveled 5,000 miles, the glass panels are installed on the appropriate floor of the building. A high degree of quality control and coordination on the part of the entire project team throughout the journey helped ensure the owner’s expectations were exceeded.  ​​​​​​​​


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