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Modern tradition – Humber College study hall, Toronto

May 29, 2018  By Steve morren

The challenge: merge a modern space into the existing 19th-century architecture of a downtown Toronto college without creating an eyesore. Careful design and innovative glass products produced a result that exceeded all expectations.

The Humber College Lakeshore campus has opened the doors to a brand new building. Their challenge? Find a somewhat modern glazing respecting Toronto`s city standards for a unique college campus that dates back to the 1880s and needs to be restored.

AT A GLANCE– Humber College

  • Glazing contractor: Redspire
  • Architect: Moriyama and Teshima Architects
  • Outboard lites: Walker Textures AviProtek 211(#1) with Vitro Solarban 70 XL (#2), ½-inch air space
  • Inboard lite: 6mm clear
  • Inboard lite:  Walker Textures
  • AviProtek 211(#4)

The firm of Moriyama and Teshima Architects brought an impressive resume into this project and a massive amount of familiarity with the Humber College campus thanks to designing several other projects there.

With the challenges noted above, this project needed concentration in the significant area of glazing and according to Adrienne Tam of Moriyama and Teshima the design plans for the glass featured a specific focus.


“The study hall for the Humber College for Entrepreneurship was created to be a vibrant hub that cultivates collaborative relationships between students and industry professionals. We wanted to select a glazing that would complement this use and provide natural daylighting for the study hall. The three different types of glass patterns create a variety of muted textured shadows that enhance the light quality in the room.”

So how does the firm find those right products and which ones would they choose and why?

“The intent was to create a clean modern volume that engages the heritage façade with minimal impact while also providing maximum exposure of the historical building. To take advantage of the interplay of light and shadows within the space, we incorporated three types of glazing units: a clear unit, a unit with single layer of ‘random’ vertical stripes and a unit with two layers of random vertically striped glass on surfaces 1 and 4. By doubling up the vertically etched glass with the distance of the unit between them, a sense of depth and movement is introduced along the building face as one moves through the space.”

The key mention here was the vertically etched glass. Where did that come from and how did it come about? Tam explains.

“There are a number of fritted products available on the market but we were on a quest for a bird-friendly glass treatment that would allow the low-E coating to be applied to surface 2. An acid-etched pattern by Walker Textures on the exterior surface meant the application was integral to the glass and unlike other products, not a separate material bound to the glass that is then exposed to the environment.”

The Walker Textures bird-friendly products used on this iconic project were combined with the high performance low-E manufactured by Vitro to complete the insulating glass makeups.

This project brought together many factors that are constant considerations in the design world. Items such as making a building fit into the design landscape, having sufficient daylighting for occupant comfort, energy performance, or codes and environmental responsibilities (bird friendly glazing) are becoming common. The new structure at Humber College met and exceeded the challenges of all of these items thanks to fantastic design and innovative product solutions.

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