JD Neuhaus

Saint-Gobain’s 350th Anniversary Pavilions Head for their third Stopover: The United States of America

The Saint-Gobain Future Sensations pavilions will be stopping off in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) from May 30 to June 6, at the Oval, Philadelphia’s own “Avenue des Champs Élysées”. Following stopovers of these traveling structures in Shanghai (China) in January and Sao Paulo (Brazil) in April, Saint-Gobain’s 350th anniversary celebrations continue in the USA. These pavilions promote the Group’s exceptional expertise in the fields of materials, especially building materials.
The next and last stopover for the Saint-Gobain Future Sensations pavilions will be Paris (France) from October 14 to 31, at Place de la Concorde.


Four Pavilions, four Sensations

The Look pavilion is a tribute to Saint-Gobain's time-honored tradition of glassmaking. Comprised of numerous mirrors incrusted with LEDs, this pavilion provides disorientating sensations and perspectives. By day, its exterior aspect reacts to the changing skies above, clouds and the sun’s rays; by night, it becomes a perpetually changing cube of light. Inside, visitors will be plunged into a whirlwind voyage to the heart of materials and science through numerous light plays, cascading images and unprecedented sounds.

The Listen pavilion is logically associated with the Group’s acoustic performance materials. This “padded” cube is perfectly sound-insulated and takes visitors on an interactive trip through sound spatialization technology in which they will be confronted with a temporary disorientation of their senses.

The Color pavilion is a carrousel made of two glazed, mobile concentric rings, and multicolored textures. A kaleidoscope at human scale, it demonstrates the convergence between the light, colors and textures of glass. By day and by night, it transports its visitors into a dreamlike multi-colored world.

The Create pavilion is a spiral staircase evoking an upward movement. An architectural feat, this pavilion pays homage to the technical content and performance of Saint-Gobain’s materials. By night, its sharp edges are edged with LEDs blurring its structure to reveal a futuristic movement. Inside, squares of fiber optic and laser beams create a perpetually changing space.

A fifth corporate pavilion will provide visitors with an opportunity to discover Saint-Gobain’s history, businesses and strategy. Access to the pavilions is free.

A Year of Celebrations

Additional highlights of Saint-Gobain’s 350th anniversary celebrations included:

  • A virtual exhibition in five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) is online: With more than 700 archival documents, Saint-Gobain provides everyone with the opportunity to explore, or rediscover its history. The exhibition allows visitors to enter a gallery of habitat innovations, to discover six in-depth thematic sections (Transformation of Material; From Advertising to Marketing; Saint-Gobain throughout the World; Major Achievements; The World of Work; Corporate Governance and Culture), and to experience, thanks to a spectacular 3D reconstruction of the Manufacture des Glaces, mirror glassworks as they would have been on the eve of the French Revolution. Visitors can also contribute to the exhibition by uploading onto the site their own documents and personal experiences.
  • An anniversary book, connected to the virtual exhibition with QR codes and translated into five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese), was published by Editions Albin Michel in April. This book looks at the Group’s past and present and provides an opportunity to learn more about Saint-Gobain in a different way.
  • The World 350 game is available as a free download for smartphones and tablets. World 350 enables players to test their digital skills and to challenge their friends and family to enter an offbeat world where they come across subtle allusions to Saint-Gobain. Their task is to build houses on planet World 350.
  • Lastly, an anniversary day that will be celebrated by all Group employees worldwide, on October 15. This anniversary day will exemplify the ties between all Saint-Gobain employees.

350 Years of History

Saint-Gobain’s history is marked by an ongoing movement towards diversification and refocusing. Despite that, the Group has the distinction of having retained its original business – the manufacture of flat glass – even if it now only accounts for 12 percent of its revenue. Other distinctive features include the tradition of innovation and early internationalization.

17th Century

Louis XIV, under the impetus of his Minister Colbert, created the mirror glassworks (La Manufacture royale des glaces) designed to defy Venice’s supremacy for the manufacture of mirrors.

18th Century

Mirrors became fashionable and increasingly affordable. Benefiting from royal and personal orders, the Manufacture, which employed more than 1,000 workers, modernized and enjoyed growing prosperity throughout the century.

19th Century

Confronted with strong international competition, Saint-Gobain diversified into chemicals. By the end of the century, its business was split evenly between chemicals and glassmaking. The Manufacture then benefited from the rapid rise in a new form of architecture based on iron and steel, mainly for large public buildings: markets, stations, arcades, etc.

20th Century

By now, Saint-Gobain had turned its attention to all types of glass products (bottles, optical glass, glass fiber, etc.). The automobile revolution and modern architecture with its vast expanses of glazed surfaces provided the company with new outlets. In 1970, Saint-Gobain merged with cast iron pipe manufacturer Pont-à-Mousson. This led to a new style of management, nationalization (1982) followed by privatization (1986), increased efforts in research, the arrival of new countries, and a time for divestitures and acquisitions. Major acquisitions included Norton in 1990, which positioned Saint-Gobain in high-technology-content materials (abrasives, ceramics and plastics). The acquisition of Poliet (Point.P, Lapeyre and Weber) in 1996 allowed the company to enter the world of building distribution materials (46 percent of its net sales in 2014).

21st Century

Saint-Gobain has focused its strategy on sustainable habitat while continuing to serve its many industrial markets. Leveraging its many sites around the world, the Group is continuing to grow in emerging countries, and it is making significant acquisitions to extend its building materials distribution network in Europe and to complete its product portfolio (the acquisition of British Plaster Board in 2005 - gypsum and plasterboard - and Maxit in 2007 – industrial mortars).

About Saint-Gobain

In 2015, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary, 350 reasons to believe in the future. Backed by its experience and its capacity to continuously innovate, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction market, designs, manufactures and distributes high-performance and building materials providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2014 sales of €41 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has over 180,000 employees.

Source: Saint-Gobain

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