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Yorkdale Shopping Centre Creates an Iconic Look


North of the border, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Canada is one of the premiere shopping centers. The mall contains over 250 stores, including many luxury retailers. Over a dozen international companies have opened their first retail locations in Canada at Yorkdale, including Apple, Microsoft, Tesla Motors, White House Black Market, and The Cheesecake Factory. Even though the 90-acre shopping mecca was first constructed in the 1950s, Yorkdale remains the third largest retail outlet in Canada. The owner, Oxford Properties, knew they had to keep pace and stay modern with current trends over the years so they initiated a $52 million expansion that was completed in 2005 to transform the complex into a more open shopping environment. They wanted it to have the feeling of bringing an outdoor environment inside with lots of natural light, all under a barrel-vaulted, all-glass roof.



Designers from Toronto-based MMC Architects took on the challenge to create a point-supported glass roof without any heavy steel supports on the interior—a difficult proposition in Toronto’s cold and snowy climate. The skylight was the first of its kind in Canada. The roof was designed to be the landmark for the Centre as a ‘hung glass’ galleria supported by a structural system above the glass on the main mall. This creates an open and transparent image when viewed from below looking out to the sky and reinforces the brand image of the mall from the exterior.



MMC Architects knew they would need the best in the business when taking on this massive glass and steel project so they enlisted W&W Glass, LLC for their expertise and decades of glass design experience in structural glass applications like this. W&W supplied the system to Sota Glazing Inc. (now Sotawall®) for installation. Innovative engineering made this indoor, yet seemingly open-air, 56′ (17m)-wide by 328′ (100m)-long shopping ‘street’ possible. The large roof meets with two vertical glass sidewalls to round out the enclosure.


The consensus was to integrate the skylight lighting to blend with the exterior sky. To minimize reflection of light on the glass skylight, that can become mirror-like at night, the design team proposed blue colored lighting to match some of the natural tone of the night sky. Architects decided upon a Pilkington Planar point-fixed glazing system with insulating laminated silk-screened glass units with a SentryGlas® interlayer to enclose the space. The steel pipe purlin system that supports the glazing lies on the exterior of the roof, with the 4’6″ (1.37m)-wide  x 7′ (2.13m)-long, four-point supported glass panels suspended below from Pilkington  Planar905 series, 316 stainless steel fittings with 2″(50mm) diameter caps to hold glass in place in the event of breakage.



To achieve the desired look and performance, the skylight make-ups incorporate one exterior lite of 10mm clear glass with an HP Low-e on the #2 surface, a 16mm air space filled with argon gas, and an interior 18mm clear laminated lite with the SentryGlas® interlayer and silk-screened, graduated white dot frit on the #6 surface. The HP Low-e offers solar control while the white dot, custom graduated frit pattern offers shading. The argon fill in the unit provides additional thermal insulation. The glass for the 328-foot-long skylight was required to meet heavy snow-load specifications of 65 pounds per square foot. A total of over 18,000 square feet (1,672 square meters) of glass were used in the skylight that sits 60-feet above the 180,000-square-foot redeveloped area.


W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.

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