One Young – Digital Ceramic Printing
The former Mayfair Hotel site is the new home of the prestigious One Young Street building, a 48,000 sqft mixed-use retail and office space focused on revitalizing the Kitchener downtown core. The first Mass Timber constructed building is the tallest in Ontario. The historic hotel was demolished in May 2015. Sitting adjacent to Kitchener City Hall, the empty site provided the perfect opportunity for an iconic structure.
As part of the revitalization, developer Bernie Nimer of Ridgewood Holdings Inc. and architect WalterFedy paid a great deal of attention to the façade. “We knew that we wanted BIG glass and were inspired by the architect Frank Gehry to incorporate Frit Glass. It provides a modern look with the added benefit of maximum natural light. We wanted to pay homage to the site’s history and the historical Mayfair Hotel, which was constructed in 1905” says Nimer. Consequently, a custom ceramic digital print is used on approximately 50% of the exterior glass. The image? A subtle (ghostly image) silhouette of the Mayfair Hotel.
THE PRINT & PROJECT – Creating a building size work of art
“This was one of the largest and the most challenging print project we’ve ever taken on. It’s the entire building,” says James Cole, Senior Project Manager at AGNORA.
The overall project consisted of over 16,500 sq.ft of custom Insulated Glass Units (IGU’s) including:
- 8050 sq.ft of custom printed frit.
- 8500 sq.ft of non-printed, high quality vision glass.
“An immense amount of work went into the pre-press of these glass prints. In fact, we had to develop a custom script to save about 6000 keystrokes, and possible errors.” says Joe Lindsey, AGNORA’s Print Technology Expert.
Every one of the 256 individual pieces were set up and ‘cut’ from a digital master elevation drawing. Subsequently, an AM print process was applied to the image to ensure that it remained visible from the exterior while allowing un-impeded vision from the inside out.
“Because we had to add a shadow to the original drawing, two separate print files had to be created to fulfill the client vision. Then manually, we combined each file back together for the printer to utilize. It was a highly involved, custom process,” said Lindsey.
Each piece of printed glass was cleaned and printed on AGNORA’s DipTech NEraD. Ceramic inks must go through a heat set process (heat strengthened or tempering) in order to fully cure. As such, the nature of these chemically based inks inhibits a wide colour gamut, and custom ratios must be prepared to closely match a client’s colour chip or pantone, as was the case with this highly specialized process.
MANAGING PROCESSES – Organizing production and delivery
The project began in July 2019, with sample ordered by the project owner Bernie Nimer and commenced production the following year - April 2020. The full-size samples helped the stakeholders realize the digital image aesthetic and how it would apply to the second, third and fourth floors of the structure to yield the subtle look the designers wished to achieve.
“Our production window was fairly narrow,” says Cole. “This is the first “full” [curtain wall] that AGNORA has been involved with. Not only is the non-printed glass oversized, but both printed and non-printed IGU’s had to have similar visual characteristics. It just made sense for AGNORA to handle the entire production.”.
For the “One Young” project, AGNORA had to accommodate a greater degree of scheduling. “With over 450 custom IGU’s, running between four services (print, tempering, IG, and shipping) we had to pay attention to scheduling and ensure that our processes ran seamlessly. It was a great exercise to handle the increase print load,” says Brent Stannard, Plant Manager at AGNORA. In addition, oversized custom glass always requires a refined arrangement of logistics. The order that glass is placed on each rack can have major implications on installation at site. AGNORA went beyond conventional packing and ensured that we fully understood the unique installation process and schedule to best rack glass so that lites were installed in sequence. This eliminated time and risk associated with “moving off,” ensuring a “one-touch” installation of each lite.
THE MAKEUP – Fabricating an efficient curtain wall
To maintain visual consistency all IGU’s has a makeup of:
6mm Pilkington low iron outboard, a 16mm stainless steel black spacer, and inboard a 6mm Guardian SKN 67/27 with performance coating on surface three.
On all 256 printed IGU’s, the frit was applied to surface two.
IGU’s ranged in size from 124” max height on printed, to 168” max height on non-printed.
The choice to use Guardian Glass’s SN 67/27 within the IGU was due to the performance characteristics of the glass. The two primary sides of the building face the South and West, and with a façade constructed almost entirely of glass, the use a product with lower transmittance and SHG was necessary.
A Final Word
BIG Glass isn’t just big, it’s also complex. AGNORA prides itself on the custom work that comes with the territory of big Glass, delivering truly custom solutions. The Oculus project, installed at Quebec’s National Assembly is the type of project we love.