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Photos courtesy of GVK

Mumbai’s new state-of-the-art T2 airport terminal is an impressive $2 billion dollar engineering and architectural achievement poised to serve as a modern, efficient and vital transportation hub for India and the region. The recently opened Terminal 2 building at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, designed by the New York office of globally leading architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and built by India-based conglomerate GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd. (GVK), features a dramatic, technically complex and aesthetically breathtaking molded coffer ceiling inside the terminal, with integrated columns, as well as a striking retail corridor featuring perforated ceiling petals and skylights, manufactured by Formglas.

The ceiling structure includes more than 4000 coffers each nearly 100 square feet in size, and complex columns over 100 feet high. Formglas leveraged sophisticated 3D and CAD/CAM technology to model and fabricate molds, and glass fiber reinforced gypsum (GFRG) material was used to create the modular ceiling and column components installed on site.


Formglas’ involvement commenced in 2008 at the request of the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the project architect. At the design phase, Formglas contributed technical details, participated in the development of 3D models, reviewed technical feasibility, shared expertise on framing design, and provided budget pricing.

Formglas bid for this project through an international competition and was awarded the contract in 2011. Given the immense project scope and complexity, the client’s desire to minimize risk, and the importance of flawless execution of this vital architectural feature, an agreement was negotiated with Airport Terminal operators, GVK, that involved having Formglas supply material and on-site technical support.

Project Execution

To support an expedited schedule, preliminary approvals for the design of the main Terminal 2 ceiling, column and capital components were facilitated by presentation, evaluation and approval of the complex 3D model that was revised and refined by Formglas.

Job site meetings between SOM and the representatives of GVK, Larson & Toubro, installation contractor Shamel, and Formglas took place. Aided by a high-powered portable graphics workstation and the complex 3D model, interactive discussions and analysis took place resulting in efficient approvals for manufacturing. This allowed Formglas to begin fabrication of the some 4000 coffers required to be made and delivered within a 9 month contract period.

Fabrication Highlights

Fabrication of master patterns and molds occurred at Formglas’ two manufacturing facilities in Toronto, Canada and Mexicali, Mexico. Given the size and scope of the project, and the logistics involved in delivering over two hundred 40’ shipping containers of material to India, Formglas temporarily leased an additional 30,000 ft2 building that was fit out with custom racking specific to the shape and size of parts to be fabricated. A similar set-up was mirrored in Mumbai, India where parts were received, prepared and held for shipment at a warehouse in close proximity to the airport terminal job site.

Accurate tooling and mold making was ensured by use of Formglas’ in-house 5-axis CNC machines. Running 7/24 for months on end, close to 500 molds were fabricated. The 3D modelling, 5-axis machine programming and 5-axis machining effort exceeded 16,000 person hours over the term of the contract.

The subsequent production of over 15,000 components for the main ceiling, columns and capitals, along with other floral ceiling components installed in the terminal’s retail area involved over 370,000 person hours of effort.

Scope and Scale

The size and scale of the project is difficult to appreciate by photography alone. The components manufactured were unusually large and complex.

  1. Standard coffers were 2.8M x 2.7M (9’-2L” x 8’-9W”).
  2. Column shafts were 3M (10’-0”)W x 4M (13’-0”)L x 8M tall (26’-0”)
  3. Column capitals were 7M tall (22’-0”) and 34M (111’-0) in diameter, and made up of 320 pieces
  4. The scope of components supplied included:
    • Standard coffers – 3,055
    • Coffer caps – 1,249
    • Capital perimeter parts – 879
    • Capital parts – 5,017
    • Column shafts – 2,470
    • Domes and troughs – 183
    • Perimeter coffers – 326
    • Skylights – 1,969
    • Stair Enclosure components – 158
    • Total parts shipped = over 15,500

Pre-Installation in India

Over an 18 month period, up to 3 Formglas technical support team members worked closely with the client to prepare for the immense undertaking. This included the selection of a warehouse to house and pre-paint finished materials, supervising the storage and tracking of components, pre-painting of certain components, and coordination of part delivery to the job site. The close working relationship with Shamel International, the installing contractor, went a long way towards ensuring that the entire installation effort was carried out smoothly.

Installation Highlights
Because of the unique structure of the building, where the entire roof of approximately 50,000m2 is one contiguous structure that moves as a single entity, there are no expansion joints for building movement. Furthermore, due to the anticipated temperature differences between the Departure Hall and the plenum space above the ceiling, allowances were needed for ceiling expansion. With the pattern of coffers blending into the column capital, and 10 mm joints between all ceiling units, there was very little tolerance. These joints, in some locations, served as expansion joints.

In the column capital areas, there are dichroic light lenses secured to the top of the coffers and illuminated by large skylights in the roof above by day, and intense lighting in the sealed space above for night time illumination. It was therefore necessary to design and lay out the framing above the exceedingly complex geometry in a manner such that framing was neither visible through the lenses from below, nor would it cast shadows from the lighting above on these same lenses. Formglas provided the basic geometry for the framing to the installing contractor.

In what is believed to be the largest GFRG installation in the world, Formglas is proud to have been chosen to be part of this world class, state-of-the-art airport terminal.

Formglas is mindful that our success would not have been possible without the cooperation, commitment and support of the professional team that we were honored to have been associated with. To them, we extend our gratitude and heartfelt congratulations on an incredible project.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)
GVK – Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd.
Larsen & Toubro Ltd.
Shamel international

For media inquiries, please contact:
John Chettleburgh
President & CEO
Formglas Products Ltd.
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