Colorful exhibit celebrates Saint-Gobain history

Saint-Gobain S.A. is celebrating its 350th anniversary with a touring exhibit that eventually will stop in all four major regions of the globe.

Saint-Gobain recently opened its Future Sensations touring exhibit to commemorate the firm’s 350th anniversary in Philadelphia, May 30 to June 6. The free exhibit was a chance for the $55 billion firm to showcase its history and innovative products through five pavilions.

The exhibit already was displayed in Shanghai in January and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in March. It will be on display in Paris in October.

“If we are to leave our children a better world, companies, organizations and political entities must work together to meet challenges with bold innovative solutions,” Saint-Gobain CEO Pierre-Andre de Chalendar told the media at the event on June 1. “Saint-Gobain has a track record of investing in innovation and initiatives that generate value, both financially and for the welfare of all human beings.”

Each of the five pavilions used a total of 26 products from Saint-Gobain and its subsidiaries in its construction. They included:

• Pavilion 1, Look—Comprised of numerous mirrors, this pavilion is a tribute to the company’s glassmaking business. By day the pavilion produces reflections but illuminates at night.

• Pavilion 2, Listen—This padded cube is a tribute to the firm’s acoustic performance materials, sound insulated and uses spatilization technology to take those inside on an interactive audio journey.

• Pavilion 3, Color—A rotating carousel made of two glazed mobile concentric rings with custom colored glasses. Or as the firm said, it is a kaleidoscope on an epic scale.

• Pavilion 4, Create—Designed to look like a perpetual spiral staircase as a nod to the company’s construction business.

• Pavilion 5, Discover—A 70-foot dome that is custom-catered to each city with products available in the region.

“Today we find that Saint-Gobain and Philadelphia are inextricably tied to each other, not simply because our company is located here in the Philadelphia area, but because we share the same passion, a passion for innovation,” said John Crowe, president of Saint-Gobain Corp., the firm’s North American unit.

Saint-Gobain’s Performance Plastics business—which is the division that consists of the firm’s elastomeric manufacturing—had its silicone test chambers and infusion sleeves used in cataract surgery on display from its Fluid Systems division. The unit’s Engineered Components division’s Seals & Polymers segment displayed its polymer OmniSeal-branded seals for rocket engines.

In addition, Performance Plastics’ Sheerfill-branded fabric membranes were used in the construction of the fourth pavilion, said Thomas Kinisky, president of the Performance Plastics division.

Performance Plastics came as part of the firm’s acquisition of Norton in 1990. Kinisky estimated the unit has grown by about 20 percent since it was integrated into the group.

“The plastics industry going forward is going to be an integral part of what we do, whether it’s construction products or lightweight materials for energy efficiency. Plastics has a place in this whole question about sustainability and the benefit to the environment,” Kinisky said.

Saint-Gobain revealed it will expand its partnership with YouthBuild USA Inc. with a three-year, $600,000 grant to support YouthBuild USA’s Green Initiative Program. Crowe said the firm is going to extend YouthBuild to South Africa by opening a school there in Samrand.

YouthBuild is a youth and community development program that addresses core issues facing low-income communities, such as housing, education, employment, crime prevention and leadership development.

“I want to be very, very clear about what this is about. This is about the largest building materials company in the world partnering and having a presence in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia region,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. “They literally could be anywhere in the world. They chose to be here for a reason, and they’ve been maintaining that partnership not just as a business providing jobs, but actively engaged in the lives and future of young people here in our city.”