Skyscraper glass costs are soaring

Curtain wall manufactures aren't keeping up with demand
September 09, 2015 08:31AM

All the money and ambition in the world isn’t enough to build New York’s towering glass-and-steel high-rises. You need to be able to buy glass, too. 

Supplies for skyscraper glass are dwindling and prices are climbing, and developers are being forced to delay and re-budget their projects. Prices for the metal-framed glass panels, called curtain wall, have risen more than 30 percent nationwide in the past 18 months, and shortages could continue well into next year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Nowadays, the glass guys are dictating the timetables of a project to us, instead of the other way around,” Ralph Esposito of Lend Lease Corp. told the Journal.

Producing curtain wall is a costly and complicated process. Many manufacturers closed or curtailed their operations during the 2008-2009 slowdown in new building, and many of those have not sped up quickly enough to keep up with today’s booming demand.

The price glass accounts for roughly a fourth of construction budgets, according to Brett Atkinson of Moss & Associates.

The Related Cos., which requires 3,000 panel of curtain for its Hudson Yards redevelopment, according to CEO Bruce Beal Jr, has even entered the glass manufacturing business itself to better control its supply, opening New Hudson Façades along with M. Cohen & Sons, in Linwood, Pennsylvania. [WSJ]Ariel Stulberg