The past couple decades have brought unprecedented growth to Toronto, with a robust economy and steadily growing population resulting in a development boom of soaring towers across the city. Usually when a significant amount of construction occurs within a relatively short period of time, the buildings predominantly feature the material of choice of that era. In Toronto, the late 19th and early 20th century were defined by locally-sourced red brick, whereas the post-war era was heavily defined by concrete. Fast forward to today, and there is one material that has dominated the high-rise industry and transformed Toronto’s skyline through the 21st century: glass.
It is hard to look anywhere in Toronto and not see a glass-clad tower rising above the horizon. With so many towers being built, there has inevitably been a great deal of advancement in window wall and curtain wall technology, as the design of these towers is becoming more adventurous and their construction more complex. More recently, however, factors like inflation, supply chain disruption, and increasingly arduous delays in the planning approval process have been inflating construction budgets, which is putting more strain on developers, architects, and builders to deliver quality products.
Fortunately, window suppliers like Quest Windows are well-suited to address these issues and are able to produce solutions that are aesthetically-pleasing without breaking the bank. Quest is a window wall and glass curtain wall manufacturer based out of Mississauga with more than 20 years of experience across North America. They have worked on many high-profile projects in Toronto and abroad, and provide services from early on in the design process through to construction.
Quest’s focus is on finding custom solutions that are unique to each project and which optimize affordability, constructibility, and creativity. They often engage with designers early on in the project, providing design-assist services to identify potential issues beforehand in order to avoid delays and costly changes that may occur during construction. They are well-versed in sustainability requirements, and work closely with clients to meet all desired performance criteria. Quest’s manufacturing capabilities extend to full facade systems, and include all components of a typical glass facade, such as metal or glass spandrel panels, doors, fins, and louvres.
Quest has been involved in several notable Toronto projects where they developed unique facade systems specific to each building. In the West Don Lands, Quest was engaged to design a custom curtain wall system for River City Phases 1 through 4, working closely with the client and design team to achieve the desired aesthetic while ensuring that the facade could be easily constructed and fit within the budget. There were several unique aspects to these curtain walls, including the accommodation of a fold in the facade of Phase 1, as well as the integration of a custom ceramic frit gradient pattern into a unitized system used throughout Phase 2 and onwards. Quest worked closely with the design team to integrate HVAC components into the facade in a way that minimized their appearance on the exterior, and developed unique all-glass commercial doors at ground floor level. There are also portions of the curtain wall system that extend above the roof slabs to provide wind-screen protection, and pop-up rooftop structures made of custom-designed window walls.
Quest was also heavily involved in the design of the Waterworks Building’s sleek window wall facade. Working closely with the architects, they developed meticulous details and installation methods that achieved the desired depth and shadow reveals of the windows, which were deeper than usual to create a more dramatic play with light and shadow on the facade. The courtyard of the Waterworks Building also features the largest vertical fins that Quest has developed to date, measuring 19” in depth and designed specifically for this project. As well, the building incorporates a historic facade at its base, and features custom ceramic-fritted glass over the YMCA portion.
Another landmark Toronto project involving Quest is Eight Cumberland in Yorkville, which represents two notable customizations of Quest’s window wall system. First, a custom one-piece corner window was developed for the podium at ground level, which has a silicone-glazed corner to make it appear seamless. The corner window was designed in a way so that it could easily be hoisted in place in one piece by a crane.
Eight Cumberland also features Quest’s first-ever slab-mounted vertical fins. The structural design and anchoring of vertical fins on a window wall or curtain wall system is a hot topic in the engineering community, as they are typically subjected to incredibly strong wind loads. In this case, Quest developed a system specifically for Eight Cumberland that anchors the fins directly to the concrete floor slab, transferring these loads to the building’s concrete structure for the full 60-storey height of the tower, and even accommodating an extension of the fins above the roof slab. The fins also wrap under the soffit at the tower’s overhang above the podium, and are sleeved together at each joint to ensure a smooth transition between floors. What’s more, the anchoring system for the fins is adaptable and can accept a wide variety of different shapes, allowing for its future use on other buildings.
Whatever the specific issues facing a project, Quest has the ability to navigate the complex constraints to provide unique solutions that satisfy all requirements, whether it be related to the design, constructibility, performance, sustainability, or affordability of the facade components. They encourage clients to engage with them early on in the process, as their expertise can provide invaluable insight that avoids schedule delays and cost overruns down the road. And their track record of completed projects speaks to the creativity of their team to find unique solutions that fit each project. As Toronto’s skyline climbs to new heights, Quest is providing the windows to make it happen.