UK engineer wins Phoenix Award 2017

James O’Callaghan, co-founder of British structural engineering consultancy Eckersley O’Callaghan, has been selected as the 47th recipient of the Phoenix Award and ‘Glass Person of the Year 2017’.

This distinguished global award recognises outstanding contributions to the international glass industry.

James is the first structural engineer to receive this award, and the first British recipient since Sir Alistair Pilkington, the inventor of the float glass process, was awarded the prize in 1981.

The Award celebrates James’ contribution to advancing the application of structural glass in the built environment.

His work has seen glass panels grow in size with connection details rationalised on a journey of projects that has incrementally increased transparency, ambition and redefined industry benchmarks.

His success in innovation has been achieved through close collaboration between engineering design, academic research and industrial developments. He is widely acknowledged to be an authority within the industry.

James joined Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners (DMP) in 1995 where he first discovered glass as a structural material. He then worked with DMP and Rafael Viñoly Architects on the Samsung Jong-Ro Building in South Korea which, at that time, had the world’s largest structural glass façade.

In 2001 James was introduced to Steve Jobs, leading to a design partnership with Apple that has defined glass as a key element in the identity of their stores.

James has since engineered the highly innovative designs for the glass stairs, bridges, facades, and other structural elements for Apple retail stores around the world, as well as supporting many other clients with their building projects.

Apple Zorlu Glass Lantern, Istanbul, was awarded the IStructE Supreme Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering in 2014.

James and Brian Eckersley co-founded engineering design practice Eckersley O’Callaghan in 2004. The 90-strong practice is based in London with studios in New York, San Francisco, Paris and Shanghai; supporting projects all around the world.

In 2016 James was awarded the UK’s IABSE Milne Medal, the highest accolade awarded to an individual engineer for excellence in structural design.


The machinery consists of DESERT production machines for high-efficiency DESERT solar modules built specifically for extreme hot climate, such as can be seen in deserts or in tropical areas. Made solely in Germany and built using the latest in DESERT and TROPIC module production, the systems inlcudes all cutting-edge technology.

Certified DESERT solar modules, DESERT containers, DESERT power plants and DESERT manufacturing machinery built using pioneering DESERT and TROPICS technology are now fully set up, and ready to perform. But powering on the machinery has been a long time coming. Up until recently, this advanced piece of equipment had been waiting for clearance at a port in Brazil. Now that the formalities have been dealt with, both J.v.G. Thoma and its customer in Brazil can get production under way.

J.v.G. Thoma GmbH is a company whose vision has always been to harness the infinite power of the sun and convert it into an inexhaustible supply of energy. But a vision such as this requires global reach, and this project has opened new doors. Brazil is not only a gateway to South American cooperation, but also the launchpad to international reach and expansion.

Following the delivery of this initial order, J.v.G. Thoma GmbH will be looking forward to an ongoing collaboration with the Brazilian company. From setup and initial training to setting the scene for a ramp up, J.v.G. Thoma will be there to provide expertise and assistance. Moreover, the company will be jointly responsible, along with the client, for the successful integration of the DESERT solar module factory.

In the future, bigger DESERT power plants will be set up on Brazilian soil, and together with existing turnkey production systems, they intend to take up a large share of the products and assets this sector will possess locally. J.v.G. Thoma plans to build up a local network of sales agents that can extend a premium offering to neighbouring countries in South America. Eventually, the company hopes to be able to expand its customer base to clients in North America.

Hans Thoma, general manager from the Thoma-group, is eager to acquire a substantial market share in Brazil, a growing country with tremendous potential for solar energy output. Having complied with local official procedures (Inmetro, TÜV, Fraunhofer CSP) and cleared the way for future business collaboration, he expresses his hope that the solar industry will henceforth expand quickly.

”Being able to introduce Brazil to the infinite opportunities of a solar industry is a privilege for J.v.G. Thoma GmbH, and one that we are extremely grateful for. At the same time, this placed the ball squarely in our court, and the pressure to get the ball rolling quickly was high. Now that the lengthy initial formalities are out of the way, we can focus on making this project a success.“

The first DESERT solar module production in BRAZIL! Let
Source: Glass International