April 30, 2010
FEATURE | Building Envelope
First Canadian Place gets 72-storey facelift
Marble facades removed from Canada’s largest office tower
Almost 40 years after it was constructed, the 72-storey, 298-metre-high First Canadian Place office tower still retains its status as Canada’s largest office tower. Now it will soon be receiving what is conceivably the largest recladding in the country.
The approximately 45,000 Italian marble panels that have highlighted the tower since its construction in 1974 in Toronto’s financial district will be replaced with approximately 375,000-square feet of glass spandrel panels.
Construction manager EllisDon began site work last September in preparation for the recladding which is expected to start in May and take until the end of 2010 to complete.
Locally based B+H Architects is the Architect of Record and Design Collaborator. New York City-based Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects is the design architect. Halcrow Yolles is the structural engineer and Brook Van Dalen is the engineering consultant.
Developed by Olympia and York and named for Canada’s first bank, the Bank of Montreal, the skyscraper has been a Toronto landmark since it was built.
“But the marble was starting to fail and it was getting quite dirty,” says B+H project senior associate Kevin Stelzer.
That was the catalyst for the building’s co-owner and property manager Brookfield Properties to look for ways to transform the building. But that was not an easy process.
The new white fritted glass curtain wall is the culmination of a year of design work and lengthy approvals by Brookfield and its partners, says Stelzer.
The seven-foot by 10-foot glass modules are comprised of three layers of glass with a ceramic frit pattern on the first layer, which is designed to project a luminous white texture. “It’s a really simple design.”
For EllisDon the project has and is a logistical challenge. The base of its operations is the tower’s podium roof where a number of site modules were lifted into place by a 500-ton crane, says project manager Mike Fitzgibbon.
The project is basically a three-step process with the glass spandrels lifted from busy Adelaide Street to the podium roof by a man material host. From there the spandrels and other material will be transported by carts along a roof protection system to two other men material hoists—one on the west side and another one on the east side of the building.
After being lifted by the hoists the spandrels will be rolled on to a three-level suspended elevated platform designed by New York-based Atlantic Hoisting. The excavated marble will be stored on the bottom level and then the platform will be lowered so workers can retrieve the glass panels and install them on the tower. Clifford Restoration is the subcontractor for the marble removal, while Sota Glazing is installing the panels.
“We intend to start at the top floor and gradually work out way down. All four sides of a floor will completed before work on the next floor starts,” says Fitzgibbon, who expects about 80 workers will be on site at any one time.
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