Project Spotlight: Structural Glazing

Let There Be Light: Structural Glazing Brightens Montreal Project

For the refurbishment of Place Ville Marie in Montreal, Sid Lee Architecture and Menkès Shooner Dagenais Létourneux Architectes called on seele and sedak to create what would become the largest all-glass structure in Canada. Place Ville Marie includes an entrance leading directly to an underground food and shopping mall. The addition of an all-glass entry pavilion creates an uninterrupted view of the shopping area below.

The nearly 138-foot (42-meter) long glass roof is made up of only 18 insulating glass units (IGU), each approximately 49 feet long by 8 feet wide (15 by 2.5 meters) and weighing 5.6 tons. The IGUs are supported with eight-ply laminated glass beams that are each also 49 feet long. The corbels supporting the beams are hidden in the walls, so the roof appears to hover, ensuring maximum transparency.

“We had been contacted directly by owner Ivanhoé Cambridge and its team because they wanted to do something extraordinary. Something like this had not been done in Canada to that quality or that size,” says Michael Steinhuelb, vice president of seele Inc. “Upgrading the user experience at Place Ville Marie was a central element for both the owner and developer. They wanted to bring light into the underground area.”

The entrance canopies at both ends of the 6,781-square-foot (630-square-meter) glass roof cantilever up to nearly 14 feet (4.2 meters) beyond the entrance façades and are supported by 14-ply glass beams.

Seele analyzed the load transfer of the roof together with local structural engineering firm NCK. This was particularly important because the glass roof and the cantilevering canopies have to carry huge loads due to Canada’s extreme winter weather conditions. The glass’ snowload is 2.5kN/m².

The company used foreign norms to build the roof while complying with local building codes. While seele designed the structural glazing project, its sister company, sedak, fabricated the glass.

In order to set up a mobile crane on site, the existing structure had to be strengthened before installing the glass. As the work took place during the winter, additional enclosures had to be set up so that the silicone could be injected properly.

“This project is a benchmark. It’s a show-piece,” says Steinhuelb. “It uses extra-large glass to open an underground area. It brings the outside in, linking the outside and the inside. Extra light is a key requirement of every human. Place Ville Marie is now a place where people like to spend time, congregate and eat.”

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