Plaza 66, image from Xinmin.
One of the windows on the ground floor of Plaza 66 shattered yesterday morning, highlighting yet again the imminent threat Shanghai faces from exterior glass around the city. Glass bombs have been happening with increasing frequency, and while a city-wide inspection is underway, Shanghai Daily reports that up to 90% of exterior glass in Shanghai is probably the cheapest stuff money can buy:
About 90 percent of exterior wall glass in Shanghai is made of cheaper tempered glass instead of safe but expensive dual-paned glass, industry insiders told the Youth Daily.
While both kinds of materials may spontaneously break, dual-pane glass is much safer because it happens less often and, even when it does, the tiny pieces are held together by a type of glue. Dual-pane glass therefore does not burst explosively and fall as thousands of small pieces, as does tempered glass.
Dual pane glass is about twice as expensive as tempered glass, and apparently “During the bidding process, companies will virtually always purchase glass based on price alone, regardless of quality.”
Not entirely surprising considering our quality/safety concerns involving pretty much every other aspect of new buildings. But the simple horror factor of falling glass (think severed limbs) reaches above and beyond the normal public safety concerns.
Plaza 66 isn’t an isolated incident. Last week glass fell from the 29th floor of a building on Caoyang Lu, and two doors in the Shanghai metro shattered only a few days apart last month.
Buildling managers are required to inspect their windows every ten years, but are clueless as to how to go about it. Some managers, such as those for the Shanghai International Financial Center (site of four glass bombs in the past six months) are simply sending their security guards to “watch the glass to see if there are any cracks or signs of explosion.” Since the first glass bomb, guards have been patrolling the building, observing glass “with telescopes.”
Yeah, keep that up guys. Seems to be working just fine.