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State Construction Project in Juneau Sparks Manufacturing Facility in Fairbanks

JUNEAU – A contract to provide exterior walls and windows for a new state building in Juneau has sparked a new manufacturing facility in Fairbanks.

Bucher Glass of Fairbanks has been awarded an $7.6 million contract to provide all exterior walls and windows for the State Libraries, Archives & Museum (SLAM) building project in Juneau.

The wall panels, measuring approximately 5-feet 6-inches by 24 feet, will be fabricated in a newly leased 32,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Fairbanks, starting immediately. The panels are scheduled to be sent to Juneau for installation late this year. Bucher’s new manufacturing facility will employ 16 to 20 Alaskans.

“Bucher Glass has always been a family business with my mom and dad starting the company back in 1966,” said Scott Bucher, owner of Bucher Glass.  “As the company has grown, we have been able to complete projects in new territories such as Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and even as far as Midway Island.  In order to do so and to remain competitive, we’ve had to look at new vendors and suppliers as well as faster methods of enclosing a building envelope, especially when dealing with accelerated building schedules that we deal with constantly in Alaska.

“Over the past few years we have imported unitized curtain wall from China with great success. Projects were done in record time. But now the opportunity has come for us to go back to our roots, so to speak, as a family business and bring a product to Alaska and other parts of the country that is manufactured and assembled right here in Alaska. We are excited to do our part in helping to grow our economy and our state.”

In previous years, the wall panels almost certainly would have been manufactured overseas, said project architect Brian Meissner of ECI/Hyer, an Anchorage firm. For several years overseas panels have had a cost advantage over domestic panels. Working with Overgaard, an internationally recognized custom façade design company, Bucher has been able to bring this technology to Alaska and make it cost effective. The panels for SLAM were procured through an open competition.

“We were pleased to see Bucher come out ahead in that competition. We were even more pleased to learn that Bucher would be establishing a panel manufacturing plant in Fairbanks,” Meissner said.

The SLAM project will place the Alaska State Museums, the Alaska State Archives, and the Alaska State Libraries in one new building at the site of the current Alaska State Museum on Whittier Street. The Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums is part of the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.

The project is being phased because of incremental funding and to protect museum objects from damage during construction. Phase 1, awarded in 2011 to PCL Construction Services, Inc., is complete and included some site work. Phase 2, also awarded to PCL Construction Services, Inc., is the construction of the building, including a vault for object storage and the exterior building envelope. Bucher is a subcontractor to PCL Construction Services, Inc. Phase 3, awaiting funding, will be the interior build-out for a turnkey facility with a planned grand opening in April 2016.

For more about the SLAM project, see: http://museums.alaska.gov/lam/slam.html.

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