Maurice “Rocket” Richard was one of the greatest professional hockey players ever.  He spent eighteen years in the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens and won eight Stanley Cup Championships while setting 20 different scoring records.  He was an all-star 14 times and upon his retirement was immediately inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame.  Simply put, the “Rocket” was a legend in the National Hockey League and was a hero to not only his fans in Quebec but throughout North America.

Now his name is associated with something very special in the architectural space.  An important new utility building was constructed on the Maurice Richard Arena site at the Olympic Park in Montreal, Canada.  This structure features a striking glazing style will stop you in your tracks. 

To give better insight as to how this project came to be and how this amazing make-up of glass was chosen, we interviewed the architectural firm behind all of this excellence.  The team from Riopel + Associates walked us through their thoughts and provided details on how they do things on a daily basis as well.

Question: The exterior of the arena is beautiful. Going in, what were your goals glass wise on this project and do you feel you achieved them?

ANSWER: By installing the volume of the new refrigeration room as an annex to the Arena, we wanted to preserve the distinctive character of the Arena’s rounded shape. This inspired us to opt for a prism with clear shapes that, on one hand, contrasts with the volume of the Arena and helps to highlight its uniqueness, and on the other hand, recalls the modern character of the existing built environment of the Olympic Park.

In the interest of integration into the particular environment of the Olympic Park, the choice of material was particularly crucial here. The main elements present in the sector are concrete, tinted glass, aluminum and brick. Thus, in keeping with the context, and in order to materialize the conceptual intentions stated earlier, we used a 4-sided silicone curtain wall cladding with a slightly reflective finish that allows the building to integrate into its surrounding environment, at the same time as producing a mirror effect.

Secondly, our goal was to develop a cladding that, without reflecting clear shapes, creates a dynamic interface by echoing movements, colors of light and surrounding vegetation. This characteristic creates changing elements throughout the day and the seasons. The chosen glass assembly was perfectly suited allowing the use of large panels with pure lines that correspond to the scale of the existing built volume of the Olympic Park.

 

Q: The glass make up you chose: 6mm clear glass Satinlite on surface 1 with 6mm grey glass Pilkington Mirrorpane™ on surface , backpainted in grey on surface 4 is not a common one. Have you designed with these products before and do you see yourself designing with them again in the future?

A: To our knowledge, this glass assembly is unique and has been developed specifically for this project. The first inspiration was actually Walker Textures® acid-etched mirrors, more specifically the 6mm Clear Mirror Satin 1 face.

However, since acid-etched mirrors are designed exclusively for interior applications, we contacted our Multiver representative to develop a glass assembly that would reproduce the light reflection and depth illusion of Walker Textures® acid-etched mirrors.

At this time, we would also like to acknowledge the wonderful support and collaboration of the Multiver team who quickly guided us towards the solution while providing us with numerous development samples from which the final assembly was chosen.

It is likely that we will revisit the use of this assembly in other projects.

 

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add regarding the glass design?

A: It should be noted that the use of curtain walls was preferred particularly because of its superior performance against scratches and graffiti.

 

Q: Overall, what was your favorite part about this project?

A: Hard to say. Each of the development phases of this project have been a stimulating challenge from the validation of the building’s layout and its volume to the material selection. Obviously, final installation of the glass units under construction was the moment we were all waiting for the most – to see our design vision become a reality on a large scale (samples are great but they can never perfectly prepare us for the end result). The end result fully exceeded our expectations.

 

Q: The portfolio of Riopel is so diverse and impressive, is it ever a challenge as a designer to go from one range of building (sporting) to another (institutional or commercial)?

A:  Each project is a challenge in itself, regardless of its range. Through executing several construction and renovation projects as well as implementing building codes, our firm has developed a unique expertise and in-depth knowledge of construction techniques, repair methods, built heritage conservation, as well as applicable regulatory requirements. The diversity of our projects helps to nurture this expertise by exposing us to a wide range of technical solutions, construction systems, materials, while expanding our innovative design skills.

 

Q: What makes Riopel different from other architects in your space?

A: Riopel + Associés architectes now has twenty-five (25) permanent resource persons, including three (3) senior partners. The firm is recognized for the quality of its services as well as the efficiency and technical expertise of its project managers. Our organization allows us to assign an architect associated with each project. The latter takes direct and complete responsibility for the project and becomes the client’s main contact from the beginning of the project to the end.

Our architectural approach is based on a balance of the various facets of the practice: a design adapted to the functional and economic requirements of the client, an ever increasing quality of concepts combined with a sustainable development strategy and a controlled technical expertise. Riopel + Associés architectes offers its clients quality services that distinguish themselves by the continuous involvement of members and the stability within each project team.

Our firm combines a rational approach based on optimizing design, respecting schedule and budget, all combined with an inventive and integrated approach that adds value to the architectural solutions developed.

Michèle Frigon, M.ARCH 
for: Sylvie St-Martin, Architect

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