Balfour Beatty delivered the new ground-up facility, Rioglass, that provided for the integration of Rioglass’ Spanish Design Team into the U.S. construction systems.

Balfour Beatty delivered the new ground-up facility, Rioglass, that provided for the integration of Rioglass’ Spanish Design Team into the U.S. construction systems.

Surprise, AZ
Rio Glass
Year Completed
$10M - $50M
Market Type
Corporate Office, Industrial/Manufacturing
Rioglass Solar is a Spanish-based company that specializes in the production of tempered mirror glass. The new plant produces mirrored glass reflectors to be used in solar thermal power plants throughout the United States. The production of the mirrored reflectors is used for solar parabolic concentrators at the Abengoa Solar 280-MW Solana Generating Station in Central Arizona.

This 180,000-square-foot facility was delivered utilizing a design/build format. The facility offers 10,000 square feet of corporate headquarters Class A office space, a QA/QC lab and a testing area. The 160,000-square-foot manufacturing portion of the facility offers a glass edge grinding process, glass bending and tempering process with a custom furnace and a three-phase mirroring process which includes silvering, ammonia scrubbers, purified water, a wastewater treatment system and three Div 1/Class 1 paint rooms. The 10 acre site has been set up for a future mirrored expansion phase of an additional 180,000 square feet.

The integration of Rioglass’ Spanish design team into the United States construction systems and Arizona's means and methods was critical to the project success. The Rioglass manufacturing process was a proven commodity from their various mirroring plants throughout Europe however; the development of the site and the shell building type were somewhat foreign to their design teams. The physical plant is constructed as a typical southwest design of concrete tilt wall panels with a structural steel frame. Our project team and local design team not only had to produce documents fast but had to educate the Spanish design team on the techniques of this type of construction systems. This all was being accomplished while collaborating with the Spanish design team to integrate furnace equipment, glass grinding equipment, mirroring application equipment, paint equipment and robotic glass loading and unloading equipment into the project.

The education of the Spanish design team (design architect/manufacturing engineer) as well as their operations team regarding the rules, restrictions and approvals was all accomplished by the Balfour Beatty project team, who at the same time were constructing a building and related site work at break neck speed. Approvals, including governmental, regulatory and owner were all coordinated by the project team. These approvals ranged from a Pure Water System for process and waste water, a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) exhaust ductwork and a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer system and railroad spur through BNSF Railroad.

The City of Surprise played an important role in their drawing reviews and site inspections. The plan review and permitting process was accomplished through the City’s expedited review process using project dedicated staff to provide continuity. Inspectors were also project-assigned to allow for timely response to the team's daily inspection requirements. The City staff also worked closely with the project team in reviewing all equipment and coordinating the governmental approvals for European manufactured equipment.