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Fono building Update: High performance glass wall installation in progress — 72% of project is done

lifting glass
andrew@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With all the negative publicity on how long it is taking to complete construction of the new Fono building, and local media reporting lawmakers venting their frustrations on the matter, a lot of progress has actually been achieved over the past two months.

The empty monstrous cement structure which has been an eyesore in the center of downtown Fagatogo for the past four years, is slowly being transformed into a state-of-the-art, modern, yet traditional looking and most unique building on the island.

Work has started on the installation of ground floor outer glass walls and window systems, which require precise glass measurements to create a strong and sturdy fit with the aluminum infra-structure.

The high performance glass, manufactured by Glass Werks Manufacturers in California, is thick laminated glass similar to a car windshield, but three times thicker and is designed for hurricane and seismic impact resistance.

The glass wall panels installed yesterday are strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds of up to 160 miles per hour, which is why the installation process is very important.

This is according to Mark Knutson who is the vice president of Arcadia Inc., the company providing all the aluminum used in the building.

Arcadia Inc. Vice President Mark Knutson (center) and Paramount crew on the first day of glass installation at the new Fono building yesterday. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]

 

Knutson was on-island to conduct a site visit and monitor the installation process to make sure it was done right, a job he is more than qualified to do with more than 30 years of experience under his belt.

“It’s been a great experience,” said the Arcadia vice president. “These guys are very talented and hard working and this project is absolutely amazing! The building is beautiful and I’m really impressed. I mean it’s all curves and radiuses!

“This is my first time in American Samoa and everybody has been so welcoming. This is the biggest project our company has done here and we’re grateful to be involved in a project of this magnitude and quality.”

Paramount crew members installing the first glass curtain walls in the front entry way of the main Fono building yesterday. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]

 

The outside line of the glass window system spans are of a high performance low heat variety that reflects the heat out of the building.

He pointed out that it is very important to have all testing and product approval done for a job of this magnitude, and all the installed glass walls and windows will need to be tested for a certain period of time to make sure there are no leaks.

According to the Construction Manager/ Architect Mark Lively’s local representative/liaison John Goeke, work is progressing well and so far, about 72 percent of the project is done.

Work on the chamber domes is ongoing and the contractor, Paramount Builders, has developed the best method to use to lift and install the individual curved parts of the domes.

He pointed out that work has been hard and dangerous because of the high structure which requires building scaffoldings for the workers.

The generator for the building is expected to arrive shortly but the arrival date of the railing system for the main building including the top floor is still to be determined.

Goeke stated that the project is a historical event which will be there for future generations of leaders and residents to use and the workers are demonstrating great pride to have been part of this construction project.

He said while it has taken a long time to finish this project, it will be something we can all be proud of.

“Good things are worth waiting for,” Goeke declared.

Other major government projects that Mark Lively is designing is for the Department of Education, which he mentioned in his testimony during a Senate hearing earlier this year, include the Juvenile Alternative School building, Administration Building and the new School Lunch Warehouse building.

As stated in the ASG FY 2024 first quarterly report, these projects have a total budget amount of $86.5 million.