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Infrastructure  |  Business  |  Interview

“Green skyscrapers, opening the new frontier of construction in New York”

The ecological transition in the building sector opens up great opportunities. This is illustrated by the case of Somec, Oscar Marchetto's company, which from the naval has entered the civil sector in the Big Apple

The building sector has always been considered one of the most environmentally damaging to the health of the planet. Recent research by the Global Alliance for Building and Construction has established that this sector produces 39% of global pollution.

In 2019, the city of New York passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which effectively outlawed energy-intensive buildings. The goal is to have green skyscrapers and to make buildings more sustainable and efficient, with the aim of reducing their emissions by 2024, and then to reach -40% in 2030. The amount needed for this is estimated at around USD 4 billion. The number of buildings that will have to undergo thermal and energy retrofitting is estimated at around 50,000.

In this context, an Italian company, Somec through its subsidiary Fabbrica, stands to play a relevant role. Specialising in marine glazing since 1995, Somec designs and manufactures glazed envelopes and parts of naval architecture, as a partner to the world's largest shipyards and cruise ship owners, from new launches up to maintenance and refit projects. Fabbrica LLC was founded in 2016 in Enfield, Connecticut by Alberto De Gobbi, Claudio Daniele, Attorney Massimo Malvestio and Oscar Marchetto, president of Somec (in the picture below, En). Among the most prestigious contracts already won by Fabbrica is, for example, the USD 45 million contract for the refurbishment of the Rolex headquarters between 5th Avenue and 53rd Street in New York. Infra Journal contacted Marchetto, who speaks about the future of the company.


How did the Fabbrica project come about?

“In 2016, when I met Alberto De Gobbi and Claudio Daniele. They had just left Permasteelisa, where they had driven to success the US subsidiary of which they were respectively CEO and General Manager, in an experience lasting 30 years, only to leave after the change of ownership. Alberto De Gobbi is a dreamer like me and, thanks to an informal meeting in a bar in Conegliano Veneto, he convinced me to invest in this project, initially as a private individual. Two years later, when I decided to list my company Somec on the Aim, the market of the Italian stock exchange dedicated to small and medium-sized companies, and to diversify the business from naval glazing to civil glazing, I became a majority shareholder in Fabbrica and brought it within Somec’s perimeter”.

What characterises Fabbrica?

“Since the beginning, it has specialised in projects characterised by a high degree of complexity. We have a design team spread across Canada, Connecticut and Italy, capable of supporting solutions for complicated projects. In the US, we started immediately by renovating the TWA Flight Center at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. This allowed us to enter into the most exciting projects in the country’s northeast, such as in Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia”.

How do you envision 2023 for Somec and Fabbrica?

“In the presentation of the 2022 budget we gave guidance for Somec's turnover, which is expected to exceed EUR 360 million. 2023 will be a year of further growth, with sustained margins. Fabbrica has a portfolio of EUR 400 million and we are working on major new projects”.

What is your most distinguishing quality? 

“Experience and above all, design and engineering. This is our strongest asset. We are able to realise what the architects have dreamed of”.

The Big Apple, after the passing of the Climate Mobilization Act, is a candidate for the new Eldorado of green architecture. How big is that business?

“It is a huge business and has yet to take off, not only in New York, but throughout the United States. Keep in mind that most of the skyscrapers in the US were built before the 2000s and they all need to be changed to adhere to new sustainability and energy-saving standards. When it takes off, it will give us many opportunities”.

In America, the picture seems clear enough, but are there spaces for Fabbrica in Italy?

“There are, although I would not talk about Italy, but about Europe. Fabbrica's challenge in Europe is being taken up by Bluesteel, a company we have acquired that has decades of history mainly in England, in London”.

What is the project you have realised that has given you the most satisfaction?

“It is a complex project that we are currently realising on Fifth Avenue, linked to a well-known luxury brand. A world-class iconic project in which we will be responsible not only for the exterior, but also part of the interior with our Crafts division”.

Hallets Point 20-30 in Astoria, Queens Borough, New York (rendering project).

Giuseppe Failla - Graduated in law, he began his carees as a correspondent for local publications in 1994 in Milan, where he works on the Tangentopoli affair, too. After a long time as a free lance he arrives in one of the major Italian radio and later he joins a financial newsroom, where he is editor in chief, today. He contributed for a long time with Il Foglio, Riformista, Indipendente and Panorama. He is also a media training teacher, today.

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