WHATEVER THE WEATHER
Avi shoshan started out working for a shutter manufacturer in Israel. “I got to understanding the inner workings of windows and doors, and what made them tick,” he says. “But I also knew I could improve their design and functionality.” Poised to disrupt the industry, Avi and his wife, Tiranit, started Panda Windows & Doors in 1991. It was an immediate success but, before long, Panda had outgrown the Israeli market. Undeterred, Avi and Tiranit relocated their fledgling business and young family to Nevada, where they delivered their first aluminium-framed lift-and-slide door to a remodelled custom home in downtown Las Vegas.
“Most windows and doors are manufactured to look like dull and lifeless features,” says Avi, “but we wanted to design beautiful pieces of functional glass that would perform as well as they looked. Our vision was to create the most elegant, minimally obtrusive, and precision-engineered windows and doors for both commercial and residential properties. Immense panels with minimal obstruction that would help people to forget they were indoors.”
As design trends evolved and architects became interested in crafting large moveable openings, Panda quickly made a name for itself in this niche market, engineering state-of-the-art custom glass wall systems for installation in some of the most scenic and exotic destinations around the world.
Yet it is not the success nor fame, but the challenge of each individual project which drives Panda. “At Panda, we absolutely pride ourselves on overcoming engineering complexities,” says Avi. “There is nothing we can’t do; no hurdle we can’t overcome; no vision we can’t realize. No matter the shape, size, or conditions of the project, we can accommodate anything through our ingenuity and innovation.”
Each product begins with a few initial sketches drawn up by Avi – who has personally engineered every system that Panda has sold. A skilled team of designers and engineers then take on the sketches and a meticulous process ensues. The system is digitally rendered and tested to establish its limits and capabilities, and a number of 3D prototypes are produced for continual optimization before the product is brought to market.
Panda invests in technologies and materials at the cutting edge, ensuring that it is always able to meet the most stringent building codes and environmental demands. Thermally broken and hurricane-rated systems, for example, provide comfortable interior temperatures while offering protection for occupants from exterior conditions. “Environmental demands are an important factor,” says Avi, “whether that means extreme temperature fluctuations, high-force winds, torrential rain, or a combination of the above. Whatever the weather, we expect our systems to perform their best when we need them most.”
Multiple competing environmental demands must be factored into every project before beginning the design and engineering phases. For the purposes of a project in Manhattan, architects have instructed that Panda meet very stringent engineering requirements for the building to remain within New York building codes. These include achieving and withstanding specific force pressures, water infiltration and condensation resistance standards. It also means accommodating structural and thermal movements of the building – all things that could happen due to gravity loads, wind loads, seismic activity or even temperature fluctuations.
When finished, it will certainly be a feat of engineering. But, with so many variables to consider, and so much pressure, is it worth it? “Absolutely,” smiles Avi. “I’ve never said no to a project, and I never intend to. Besides, this is exactly the kind of challenge we are made for.”