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An all-glass roof hovers above a refurbished shopping mall in Montreal

Retail Centers

An all-glass roof hovers above a refurbished shopping mall in Montreal

This $200 million project provided the installer, Seele, with some valuable lessons learned working with large panels in colder weather.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | January 30, 2020

A huge all-glass roof provides a stunning view into the esplanade of Place Ville Marie, a mall and gathering place in downtown Montreal. Images: Sid Lee Architecture

Last week, Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten officially opened its 35,000-sf food court within the esplanade at Place Ville Marie, a revitalized central mall in downtown Montreal, Quebec.

The food court—whose 15 kiosks have seating for more than 1,000 patrons and include three restaurants—is adjacent to a shopping center, and positioned under a 630-sm (6,782-sf) all-glass roof that is part of the Place Ville Marie’s new entrance pavilion. The 45x15-m roof—the first project in Quebec for the façade construction specialist Seele, and its fourth in Canada—is 1.2m above ground level.

The roof component, which was completed in December 2018, consists of 15m-long by 2.5m-wide insulating glass panels weighing up to 5.6 tons each. Eight-ply laminated glass beams, also 15m long, support the glass panels. The corbels supporting the beams are hidden in the walls, presenting the illusion that the roof is hovering above ground.

The roof is bookended by entrance canopies that cantilever up to 4.2m beyond the entrance facades. The canopies are supported by 14-ply glass beams. The roof took six months to complete, and had to deal with a confined jobsite space and, in its latter stages, Montreal’s wintry weather. It required a 2.5-ton vacuum lifter with 60 suction cups to place the glass units. To support a mobile crane for installing the glass, the existing structure needed to be strengthened.

Part of the 1,000-seat food court underneath Place Ville Marie's glass roof.


The client, real estate investment firm Ivanhoè Cambridge, presented this project for the first time last May at Façade Tectonics in Toronto. “Every project has its own challenges, and the handling of extra-large glass needed careful preparation,” recalls Michael Steinhuelb, Vice President of Seele Canada. “Quality, safety, and timeliness [were] our prime considerations in installation, and we learned a lot about extreme winter installation … that we can apply to other projects.”

The building team for Place Ville Marie’s revitalization includes Sid Lee Architecture (which conceived the project with A5 Hospitality) and Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes (architects), Pomerleau (GC), NCK (main contractor), and NCK (engineer) BPA (electromechanical engineer), Lightmotion (lighting consultant), and BC2 (landscape architect). Seele provided design, production, and installation of the glass roof and canopies. The $200 million revitalization of the esplanade is part of Projet Nouveau Centre, Ivanhoe Cambridge’s $1 billion-plus vision for downtown Montreal, which is consolidating four major projects: Place Ville Marie (originally co-designed by I.M. Pei and Henry N. Cobb), Montreal Eaton Centre, the 27-story office building Maison Manuvie, and the 950-room Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  

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