June 22nd, 2011
Responding to the Russian market's growing demand for innovative and durable architectural materials, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (SGPPL) is introducing its polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-coated SHEERFILL® Permanent Architectural Membrane to Russia. With four decades of proven innovation in seven continents, SHEERFILL is poised to help architects in Russia create gravity-defying structures for projects tied to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and beyond. Originally developed by NASA in the 1960s as a noncombustible material able to withstand extreme temperatures and abrasive conditions, SHEERFILL PTFE-coated fiberglass fabric can be seen in myriad recognizable landmarks around the world thanks to SGPPL. In the 1970s, SGPPL modified NASAs creation into a stronger fabric that could be used as an innovative architectural material providing extreme flexibility, durability and longevity.
When the Hajj Terminal in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was awarded an Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1983, it was described by the jury as "a mirage-like building that floats above the desert floor." The illusion, achieved by using SHEERFILL®, remains as real as ever nearly 30 years later and continues to welcome millions of religious pilgrims traveling to and from Mecca each year.
"From Antarctica to Saudi Arabia, SHEERFILL® has continually shown a massive spectrum of structural versatility that is virtually unheard of in design and construction," says Marcel Dery, Global Sales Manager of Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. "The only limit on a SHEERFILL design is imagination."
Skidmore, Owens & Merrill, the architecture firm behind the iconic Hajj Terminal project, set out to recreate the form of the Bedouin tent to ensure cultural symbolism. The firm enlisted SGPPLs SHEERFILL® permanent architectural membrane to bring its ambitious vision to life—comprising 210 tent structures over 370,000 square meters upon completion in 1981, the Hajj Terminal became the world's largest cable-stayed, fabric roofed structure.
In 2010, the iconic terminal was again honored by the AIA—this time with a National 25 Year Award, which recognizes architectural designs that have stood the test of time for a quarter-century.
Since its first project in 1973—a cone-shaped membrane structure spanning more than 6,000 square meters covering the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California—SHEERFILL® has established a proven track record of durability in all seven continents.
While being best-known for the dramatic structures it enables, SHEERFILL® membrane's appeal goes far beyond the visual. The SHEERFILL incarnation of the PTFE coated fiberglass fabric is stronger than steel while weighing less than 142 grams per .09 square meter. In addition, it transmits up to 15 percent of daylight without the heat gain of traditional glazings—an energy-efficient characteristic that earned it a coveted Energy Star rating and recognition from the Cool Roof Rating Council—and is cost-effective thanks to its robustness and low maintenance requirements. In contrast to traditional roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles or single-ply rubber, SHEERFILL tensile structures provide up to 25 years more of useful service life. SHEERFILL is also waterproof, immune to UV rays and able withstand temperatures ranging from -150°C to over 260°C.
Inducted into the Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1989, space is perhaps the only frontier unconquered by SHEERFILL®. SGPPLs global reach has helped ensure the presence of SHEERFILL in some of the world's most famous architectural structures. SHEERFILL membrane's limitless capabilities can be found at work in almost 900 structures ranging from shopping centers and airports to stadia and toll booths. A sampling of SHEERFILL enabled structures includes the Millennium Dome, now known as the O2 Dome (U.K.), Kuwait Scientific Center (Kuwait), Denver International Airport (U.S.), Port of Entry toll booths in Calexico (U.S.), and the William Younger Center Dynamic Earth visitor attraction (Scotland). In 2012, Poland's Warsaw National Stadium, designed by the German consortium JSK Architekten in preparation for Euro Cup 2012, will join the list of landmark projects featuring SHEERFILL membrane's design flexibility.
SGPPLs introduction of SHEERFILL® in Russia marks the latest Saint-Gobain expansion in the region. Last year, Saint-Gobain Sekurit and Trakya Cam signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to set up a 50-50 joint-venture specialized in producing and selling automotive glass in Russia.
"This is an exciting time for Russia. The country's investments leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the World Cup in 2018 will amount to $50 billion, including $3.82 billion for the construction of stadiums and $11 billion for infrastructure projects," notes Dery. "As an emerging market poised to continue growing aggressively in the coming years, Russia is an integral part of SGPPLs growth strategy."