3M™ Dichroic Glass Finishes: The Unexpected Solution
Umbra – Toronto, Canada
CJ Graphics Inc. and the CJ group of companies has 35 companies within its organization specializing from simple to extremely complex and unique projects around the globe. When one of the partners/owners of long-time client Umbra reached out to Jay Mandarino, President and CEO of CJ Graphics Inc. with the task of refreshing the exterior of its iconic flagship store in downtown Toronto, Jay and CJ Graphics were up for the challenge!
Joe Arruda, Director of Large Format at CJ Graphics is an expert in his field and has creatively navigated structural and design projects for over 30 years. Jay knew Joe was up for this important task and immediately sent Joe to Umbra to begin on the project. With the products and guidance of 3M, CJ Graphics and Umbra came up with an extremely affordable, stunning and time-tested solution that everyone was impressed with.
Umbra, a Canadian-based manufacturing company and a global leader in product design, needed a fresh look for the exterior of their flagship store to compliment the world-renowned design work that takes place inside. The Umbra building, centered in Toronto’s busy and high-traffic Queen West neighbourhood, is a work of art in itself.
The exterior of the building was made of hot pink polycarbonate curved panels that needed a refreshed look from the years of acid rain, extreme weather experienced in Toronto and general wear and tear. To reclad the panels, CJ Graphics estimated it would have been close to a half a million-dollar renovation. Not one to shy away from a unique challenge however, Umbra and CJ Graphics looked for a different solution that would endure the extreme weather and save money all while providing an eye-catching, people-stopping destination in Toronto’s Art and Design District. From the beginning of the project, Arruda and the team at CJ Graphics along with Umbra partnered with 3M, a mover and creative problem solver in the architectural and glass finishes industry. Together, they extensively tested products and ultimately, came up with a creative and lasting solution.
The team avoided total exterior panel replacement by deciding to cover the curved polycarbonate panels with durable 3M film. After years of living with a faded pink exterior, Umbra was looking for something to make their building stand out and make a splash again. After ample testing with 3M, CJ Graphics and the Umbra team landed on using 3M™ Dichroic Blaze Glass Finishes, a durable and stunning polymeric product. While initially designed to be used on interior surfaces, the film was extensively tested for this project to be used in an exterior application. They knew that the product’s ability to shift colours depending on light, time of day and various viewing angles, would give the Umbra building a distinctive and eye-catching look. From warm tones of cyan, blue and magenta in transmission to a red and gold colour in reflection, the 3M™ Dichroic Glass Finish proved to be a beautiful product. Undeterred by the challenge of trying something new, CJ Graphics and Umbra were willing to take a chance on this more affordable solution. The result of these efforts is an iridescent appearance that dramatically altered the look of the building and now sets it apart from any other structure in the world.
The seamless installation was originally done in 2016. Within days, the building underwent a major and inexpensive transformation. Since then, the building stands as a testament to creative problem-solving. Two years after the installation, a truck from a busy side street backed into the side of the building, damaging 16 panels. All 16 panels were replaced and rewrapped with the same 3M™ Dichroic Blaze Glass Finish. Even after the wear and tear of extreme weather and direct sun exposure, there was no noticeable difference between the panels that were rewrapped and the existing two-year-old panels. The colour was as vibrant as ever. The unexpected replacement solidified what is already well known; 3M’s commitment to the longevity of its products. For over five years, the beauty and vibrancy of the 3M™ Dichroic Glass Finish has the same dramatic impact as it did in 2016 when it was first installed. Through harsh weather, acid rain and even panel replacement due to an accident, the 3M™ Dichroic Glass Finish speaks for itself as an innovative and long-lasting product.
“With different substrates and adhesives, I don’t think just anybody could have been up for the challenge, a lot of other installers, manufactures and architects would have wanted to move on to the next thing,” said Mandarino. “3M was a great company to work with and they were very open to the possibilities. Now, people are looking at buildings differently. They are imagining 3M products in a way they hadn’t before.” The Umbra building stands out in all its colourful wonder as a true work of art and creative genius. “This project wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration and dedication from the 3M team that we worked with,” said Mandarino. The success of this project is directly related to the creative boundaries Umbra, CJ Graphics and 3M were willing to push.
To explore what you can create with 3M™ Architectural Films, visit 3M.ca/ArchitecturalFinishes.
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