Photo: Jim Cunningham Photography

Vitro Architectural Glass (formerly PPG Glass) announced that it is a contributing sponsor to restoration of the historic Tropical Rainforest exhibit at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, and that it will supply 19,600 square-feet of Starphire Ultra-Clear glass, featuring AviProTek bird-friendly Velour acid-etched finish by Walker Glass, to the $1.2 million project.

“Vitro Glass is honored to partner with the National Aviary on this historic exhibit, which has attracted people from around the world for more than 65 years,” says Richard Beuke, president of Vitro Architectural Glass.

Architectural representatives from Vitro Glass worked with bird-safety experts at the National Aviary to develop a custom glass specification for the project, which incorporates complete acid-etched coverage on the exterior (#1) surface of an ultra-premium, low-iron glass. According to tunnel tests conducted by the American Bird Conservancy, this glass configuration has a threat factor of 5, which means that birds will avoid colliding with it at least 95 percent of the time.

The glass configuration also enhances bird safety by preventing birds of prey living outside the Aviary from seeing and attempting to reach potential prey living inside the building. In addition, the translucent finish will maximize ultraviolet (UV) and natural light transmittance to help sustain bird and plant life inside the habitat.

Vitro Glass will supply more than 3,100 panes of laminated glass to the project. The glass will be fabricated by Dlubak Specialty Glass Corp. in Blairsville, PA, and installed by Greenhouse RSI, of the greater Cincinnati area, which is nationally recognized for its greenhouse restoration work. Montgomery Smith Inc. of Burlington, KY, experts in greenhouse and conservatory preservation, design and engineering, is the historic conservatory consultant.

The Tropical Rainforest habitat, which opened in 1952, still features the single-strength annealed float glass used in its original construction. In addition, the glazing compounds that hold the glass in place have become loose and chalky, damaging their ability to adhere the glass to its supporting framework and causing air and water leaks. The renovation, which began last month, is expected to be completed in July.

Beuke said the new rainforest exhibit will not only enhance the National Aviary’s status as a world-class attraction, but also further its mission to protect, care for and educate visitors about the vital role birds play in the life of the planet.

As part of the sponsorship, Vitro Glass will also help fund the National Aviary’s popular School Field Trips education program.