Play of light adds beauty to infrastructure
Montréal architects specified our Lamberts channel glass to fulfill ambitious goals for a vital piece of public infrastructure.
When Québec’s largest city planned to build a new water intake on the Canal de L’Aqueduc, local residents expressed concern. The facility would be located right in the middle of a popular public recreation area, in full view of a residential neighborhood, Luckily, the project team at Smith Vigeant Architectes agreed that no ordinary industrial building would do.
To achieve harmony between the station and its setting, designers layered an external facade of channel glass over an inner envelope of colored aluminum. The remarkable result of this technique succeeds in both expressing and effacing the building’s utilitarian purpose.
Situated on a channel that draws water from the Saint Lawrence River, the intake operates 24 hours a day screening out debris. The combination of the inner and outer building envelopes provides proper security for the station and protects its operations from Canada’s harsh winters. It also serves to create a striking “pixilated” effect on the building’s exterior, as the vertical channels of glass cross the horizontal bands of aluminum to create the perception of squares.
According to architect Daniel Smith, the inner aluminum panels (in a graded range of blues) were chosen to reference the “horizontal” quality of water as it responds to gravity. The “orange peel” texture of diffuses these colors while adding reflections from the sky, ground, and water nearby. The finished building, which is largely unmanned and needed no windows, glows gently by night and (as Smith described it) “participates” in the changing tones of the natural landscape by day.
We provided 352 channels of tempered, 100% heat soak tested glass for the project, in 14’ 8” lengths to provide an unbroken vertical wall of glass. Totaling 4,600 square feet in area, the channels were installed with our SF60S single glazed frame system in a clear anodized finish. “We wanted a material that would be responsive to its surroundings, like water,” noted Daniel Smith. “Bendheim has a very good system, and the quality was top level. If I ever have another opportunity to use it, I will.”
As Montréal enjoys a new landmark, Smith Vigeant’s efforts have been rewarded with the 2022 Prize for Excellence in Architecture (Industrial Buildings Category) from the Ordre des Architectes du Québec. “We’re proud to be associated with a project that truly displays the exceptional qualities of our channel glass,” noted Michael Tryon, General Manager at Bendheim. “More and more, we’re seeing interest in channel glass as a highly practical material that can also make necessary infrastructure beautiful. We look forward to working on many more such projects in the public interest.”