We received a note of inquiry from an owner/resident at Celsius, one of the projects we designed for our developer client, Shiu Pong. The resident was concerned with a recent media story suggesting that buildings made with glass had inherent problems with construction and longevity. Here is our response:
Happy New Year to you Dena,
We cannot answer for the development(s) featured in the “Throw-away Building” article you referenced, since they are not ours and they are probably +/- 8 years old. However, it should be noted that all new glass buildings or any buildings are required to meet the Toronto Green Standards which are high even when compared to other global industry standards such as LEED. All permit applications are to be submitted with an energy modeling report prepared by an independent engineering firm for the city to review and approve according to prevailing industry standards. For example, for most of our buildings, only up to 40 to 50% of the exterior walls are vision glass. Hence over 50% of the remaining walls are in reality insulated spandrel glass panel walls, which are solid insulated walls from the inside. These wall assemblies have as good insulation values as any masonry or precast concrete walls.
Celsius Condos, North York
It is our experience over the last 30 years of practice that many of these types of potential failures occur because of the lack of proper maintenance. If built and maintained properly, there is no difference in lifespan of a glass-clad apartment tower versus a masonry or precast-clad tower. Today’s low-e glass with tinted and moderate reflectivity have substantially higher heat loss coefficients than previous glass even a few years ago. Hence, they perform better, reflect the right amount of sunlight and keep the heat and cool in for comfort.
The Celsius project is designed with a better than average +/- 45% glass to solid wall (spandrel glass panels) ratio. In order to further enhance efficiencies, we have added to our taller glass walls drop ceiling heads and raised sills and these windows do not run wall-to-wall. These features will enable the windows to have the appearance of large punched windows from the inside giving each room excellent light and views but, at the same time, allow for enhanced insulation values.
It should be noted that the City of Toronto Urban Design Review Panel (which is made up of urban designers, architects, landscape architects and engineers) not only voted unanimously in favor of our design both in terms of architectural details and urban design solution, they went so far as to mention at the panel meeting that it was indeed the best project presentation they have yet seen. They also thanked Kirkor and its client, Shiu Pong, for setting the bar of excellence very high.