ETS SlenderWall project wins PCI award

September 1, 2013 | Architectural Products

2013 Design Award / PCI
Best Multi-Family Housing:
ETS Student Housing (phase IV) in Montréal, Quebec


Schedule is always a top concern on construction projects, but it was particularly important for the team designing and constructing the ETS Student Housing for an engineering university in Montréal, QC, Canada, in 2012. “The completion date in August had to be respected as the building was fully rented to students for the beginning of their school year,” says Serge Jacques, principal architect for Régis Côté et Associés.

To meet the deadline, as well as cost and durability goals, the firm chose a precast concrete panel system, SlenderWall. The composite precast concrete panels are 2 in.-thick (50 mm) architectural concrete on a galvanized steel stud frame, which translates into thinner and lighter panels.

The lighter panels cut concrete costs, while shortening installation time and reducing the need for additional on-site work trades, Jacques says. In spite of the large building footprint, the tower crane was able to lift any panel around the building perimeter, and the lighter loads on the structure translated into overall savings. “It gave us a great advantage during erection.

To save additional time, guarantee quality, and enable cold-weather construction, the precast concrete producer, BDPL Béton Préfabriqué, suggested installing the windows and insulation in the heated plant so the panels would arrive ready to install at the jobsite.

“We believe this never had been done before and it brought great advantages, as well as high rapidity for installing and finishing the interior,” Jacques says. “The design flexibility, the professional approach and cooperation of the precast concrete manufacturer and the overall quality of the panel has made our choice the right one for this project.”

Aesthetically, the precast concrete panel design reflects the vibrant, busy lives of the students who will call this structure home. The design team saw the building as a beehive, and wanted to complement the activity of the students in the design.

That goal is achieved through a series of vertical windows that correspond to the dining areas, and horizontal windows that offer panoramic views in study areas and in some of the bedrooms. Three different tints, in gray, white and black, were used to create an interesting pattern across the facade, while mimicking the color scheme of the existing buildings on the downtown campus. BDPL provided custom-made forms to create the effect.

“The design is sophisticated, but the concrete gives it a somewhat rugged look,” Jacques says. “The precast gives the building some weight and one can tell the building is resistant just by looking at.”

Serge Jacques

Owner: ÉTS École de Technologie Supérieure, Montréal, QC
Architect: Régis Côté et Associés, Montréal, QC
Precaster: BPDL Béton Préfabriqué, Alma, QC
Engineer of Record: Pasquin St-Jean & Associés, Montréal, QC
Contractor: Decarel, Westmount, QC
Project Cost: $31.5 million
Project Size: 81,000 ft2 (7500 m2)

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