Coeymans, N.Y. — McLaren Engineering Group announced completion of its design work on The Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge. The firm’s marine and entertainment divisions collaborated to transform a standard barge into a floating entertainment vessel capable of hosting glassblowing demonstrations for 150 people.
“McLaren took a 30-by-80-foot flat deck barge and brought it to life by turning it into a floating venue for glassblowing. Witnessing this concept become a reality was awe-inspiring for us at The Corning Museum of Glass,” says Rob Cassetti, the museum’s Sr. Director of Creative Strategy and Audience Engagement. “This was an incredible engineering feat that provides a platform for us to tell our story of 150 years of glass innovation in Corning, NY. No other firm could fill our vision like McLaren has.”
One hundred and fifty years ago, the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company — now Corning Incorporated — moved to Corning via canal barges. GlassBarge commemorates the anniversary by retracing — and expanding — the journey, visiting 29 waterfront communities across the state from May to September.
McLaren’s marine team first helped Corning choose a barge and ensured it was up to coast guard standards before transforming it into a floating entertainment vessel. The team performed underwater inspections and ultrasonic thickness measurements to inspect conditions.
“We engineered the floating entertainment venue so that glassblowing demonstrations could fit safely within the confines of the barge,” says Ashleigh Campbell, project manager and naval architect, McLaren Engineering Group. “We worked with the U.S. Coast Guard throughout the design and construction process, ensuring the GlassBarge met all the requirements for a Moored Attraction Vessel, including stability, hull thickness and electrical wiring.”
McLaren’s entertainment team designed the barge layout to include a glassblowing container, stage, seating risers, storage vessel and canopy. The 30-foot-wide, 69-foot-long retractable canopy was designed to protect the performers, audience and stage from inclement weather.
“We used our experience working on Broadway theaters and concert stage performances to create stadium seating that amplified the viewer experience, while collaborating with our marine experts to maximize occupancy on the floating structure,” says Steven Bonadonna, technical design manager, McLaren Engineering Group.
McLaren also provided fabrication design, assembly, weldment and machining drawings, as well as renderings of the floating structure. The firm oversaw the construction repairs and integrated all the glassblowing equipment into the physical layout of the barge. McLaren’s team advised on the electrical layout needed for the high-energy-use equipment.
“This project is a perfect example of our firm’s applied ingenuity approach – blending our creativity and engineering expertise. We are a proud partner of GlassBarge and are thrilled to see it educating crowds at nearly 30 stops this summer,” says Malcolm G. McLaren, president and CEO, McLaren Engineering Group. “Because our firm has deep expertise in both entertainment and marine engineering, McLaren was uniquely suited to make this complex project a reality.”
McLaren coordinated with The Corning Museum of Glass, Port of Coeymans, United States Coast Guard (USCG), South Street Seaport and additional supporters of the construction and transit of the GlassBarge.
GlassBarge launched from Brooklyn Bridge Park in May 2018 and is currently taking a four-month journey along the waterways that carried the company 150 years ago. Along the route, a traveling team of educators, historians, and artisans invite the public onboard for history talks and hundreds of free glassmaking workshops. GlassBarge will return to Port of Coeymans in October.
For more information about GlassBarge, visit: https://www.cmog.org/glassmaking/demos/hot-glass-demos/glassbarge.