Quebec Theatre To Get 'Glass Cocoon'

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, 2017


A preservation project for Canada’s Grand Théâtre de Québec is underway. However, instead of renovating the 1970s brutalist concrete, designers decided to go a much more transparent route—encasing the entire building in glass.

An Intervention

Quebec architect Victor Prus constructed the building in 1971 using mass amounts of prefabricated concrete slabs for the exterior of the buildings. Over the past 40 years, those components have been disintegrating due to weathering and corrosion, with fragments breaking off the building. The repeated freeze-thaw cycle had cause the metallic anchors to rust, exposing the panels even more.

Workers at the theatre have tried to be proactive with maintenance work and other preventive measures, including protective nets around the corners of the building and steel arches installed in emergency exits.

It became clear to those involved in 2014 that something more needed done, but neither the budget nor time was there to replace the crumbling elements. Officials also didn’t want to disturb a Jordi Bonet mural that is attached to the building’s exterior.

According to the theatre’s website, five firms responded with answers, “four of them qualified, two teams withdrew and two others filed proposals. A jury of independent architects and a committee of technical experts analyzed the proposals and made recommendations to the Board of Directors of the Grand Théâtre de Québec.”

The Solution

The winning proposal from a Lemay and Atelier 21 consortium made the cut, and proposed that instead of actually disrupting the building itself, they would protect it another way.

Images: Lemay and Atelier 21

A preservation project for Canada’s Grand Théâtre de Québec is underway. However, instead of renovating the 1970s brutalist concrete, designers decided to go a much more transparent route—encasing the entire building in glass.

A shell, made entirely of glass, will encase the entire building envelope.

"It was crucial to respect Prus’ vision," said Eric Pelletier, Lemay architect and creative partner, "and preserve the integrity of Jordi Bonet’s mural, sculpted into the interior supporting wall over an area of 1,000 square meters (10,763 square feet).”

The glass casing will be constructed about 6 feet from the concrete lining around the perimeter of the building. The gap will be climate-controlled and ventilated, giving the concrete panels the protection they need.

“In addition to respecting and protecting the appearance and uniqueness of the building, while providing a modern and contemporary look, this solution is technically and architecturally compliant, as well as being the best adapted and the most economical of the two proposals received,” according to the website. “Thus, the chosen concept completely secures the premises. The materials used have a minimum life expectancy of 50 years.

The glass casing will be constructed about 6 feet from the concrete lining around the perimeter of the building. The gap will be climate-controlled and ventilated, giving the concrete panels the protection they need.

Though the estimated cost for the work rolls in at around $16 million, the project budget is set at $30.3 million, financed by the Government of Quebec. Construction extends of spring 2017 to fall 2018.

Architects Lemay and Atelier 21 and contractor Pomerleau Inc. are joined by engineering consulting firms WSP Global Inc. (mechanical, electrical, structural), ELEMA experts (glass and setting) and SIMCO (materials).

   

Tagged categories: Building envelope; Building Envelope; Building facades; concrete; Construction; Facade Maintenance Design; Glass; North America; Weathering

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