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Unique structures by façade construction specialist seele


The seele group, based in Germany, is one of the world’s top companies specialising in the design and construction of façades and complex building envelopes made from glass, steel, aluminium, membranes and other high-tech materials. The technology leader in façade construction was founded in 1984. seele has been active in the North American market for almost 20 years and set up a Canadian office in Toronto in 2015. It was in that city that seele made its remarkable debut in the shape of the TEC Bridge.

Four exceptional projects in four Canadian cities so far

Based on a profound understanding of design and materials, seele provides the full service needed to realise one-off designs true to the visions of ambitious engineers and architects. seele canada Inc. is helping developers and architects build more and more spectacular architectural icons in Canadian cities, too. seele can supply a wealth of façade construction expertise for achieving premium building envelopes. The main focus of the projects is steel-and-glass and all-glass façades. A large network of outstanding local suppliers guarantees structures meeting the very highest quality standards. Whether a footbridge with demanding geometry, a complex steel-and-glass roof for the country’s parliament or a structural glass design to roof over a shopping mall, seele, with its breadth and depth of skills, is a sound partner.

CF TEC Bridge, Toronto © Sight on Site Inc.

CF TEC Bridge in Toronto

In 2017 a footbridge, the so-called TEC Bridge, about 35m long and weighing about 200t, was lifted into its final position in the centre of Toronto. Located at first-floor level, it spans over Queen Street West between the Hudson’s Bay Shopping Mall and the Toronto Eaton Centre (TEC).

The initially twisted portal frames on the historic Hudson’s Bay building side resolve into a stricter glass design language that blends in with the modern architecture of the TEC building. The scope of seele’s work covered the design, fabrication and erection of the laminated glass, commercial bronze plates, handrails, stainless steel open-grid flooring and structural steelwork. Owing to the challenging shape of the steel-and-glass structure, every bronze plate was a one-off in terms of its geometry and surface decoration. The design by Wilkinson Eyre Architects called for circular ornamentation to be milled into the plates during the fabrication work before being treated in an acid bath to achieve the bronze-coloured patina. One particular challenge of this project was the demanding erection procedure on Toronto’s most important shopping street. The old bridge between the buildings had to be taken down and the new bridge erected according to a precise timetable.

Steel-and-glass roof for the West Block of the parliament complex, Ottawa © seele

Curved glass roof for Canadian Parliament complex in Ottawa

A striking curved glass roof has been built over the central courtyard of the West Block so that it can serve as a temporary chamber for the Canadian House of Commons. seele turned the architects’ exacting artistic and building physics concepts into reality, and was also responsible for designing and erecting the columns and roof elements.

In terms of construction, by being totally separated from the existing building and seemingly floating above the essentially unaltered courtyard façades, the roof complies with the heritage preservation stipulations. The loads are carried via a modern steel structure. The triple-glazing units chosen for the upper, i.e. outer, roof glazing guarantee optimum thermal performance in winter. Below the loadbearing structure there are the so-called laylights forming a second layer of glass in various colours. This coloured glazing plus the movable louvres controls the incoming light to determine the lighting in the chamber. seele’s work included the provision of four mock-ups, the largest of which measured 7.5 x 12m and replicated a complete corner of the roof including drainage and the junction with the building. The mock-up was subjected to a thermal cycling test in order to verify the imperviousness of the design even under extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations.

Brookfield Place, Calagary © seele

Steel-and-glass structure for Brookfield Place in Calgary

Brookfield Place is one of the tallest and most impressive real estate projects in the Canadian city of Calgary. The development consists of two towers, the taller of which is 247m high and has 56 floors. seele was appointed to design and build the façade to the base of the tower, a pavilion, a glass kiosk and two so-called +15 bridges. The latter are needed to tie Brookfield Place into Calgary’s “+15 Skyway”, a system of pedestrian walkways extending 18km across the city at a height of about 4.5m above the ground. Besides the elaborate pavilion, seele was also responsible for the keen lines of the highly aesthetic “architectural steelwork” framing the façade at the base of the tower.

All-glass structure at Place Ville Marie, Montréal © Sid Lee Architecutre & MSDL

seele’s first all-glass structure in Canada for Grand Hall in Montréal

Place Ville Marie is currently being refurbished and, after completion, is set to become a favourite meeting place for the citizens of Montréal. The four original rooflights have been replaced by a large central entrance pavilion leading directly to the food & shopping mall underground. seele’s contract included the design of a 45 x 15m glass roof positioned about 1.2m above ground level. This 688sqm roof is made up of insulating glass units measuring 15 x 2.5m. These panes are supported on 8- and 14-ply laminated glass beams 14.47m long x 0.9m deep. In addition, seele was responsible for the entrance façade with its double-leaf side-hung doors and vestibule. Another design highlight is the glass canopies above the two entrance zones. Supported by the 14-ply glass beams, they cantilever 2.5 and 4.5m beyond the entrance façade. The Grand Hall project has enabled seele to demonstrate its structural glass skills in Canada as well.