Think Tank Architects
Castellón de la Plana, Spain | View Map
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Think Tank Architects en tant que Architectes.

Neolith by TheSize has been specified for the façade restoration of an outdated Ottawa department store as part of the building’s conversion into a sophisticated Nordstrom retail outlet. When in 2012 it was announced that the former Sears store at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre would be reinvented as Nordstrom, a great deal of care was taken to select architects, technicians and consultants that understood the brand and vision of the upscale fashion retailer. Seattle-based architecture firm, Callison, was selected for the project in this high-traffic location in the heart of Canada’s capital. With 14,000 sq ft of worn exterior and interior storefronts to revamp, the architects realised this was a tall order. To add to the challenge, the design plan also required sleek white exterior façades that would never stain, fade or discolour, while also withstanding the harsh Canadian weather.

With several key “must-haves” for the project, Callison began looking into potential solutions that would not sacrifice the design details essential to the overall aesthetic. Having looked at a variety of surfacing materials, Neolith by TheSize was selected due to its reputation for being incredibly durable, and resistant to scratching, fading, staining and extreme temperatures. After liaising with Travis Conrad, architectural consultant for Neolith, the Callison team was confident their vision could be brought to reality. Michael Lee, principal, Callison, comments: “As architects, our foremost thoughts were about the design and aesthetics of the project. However, it is not uncommon for design visions to be at odds with functional solution, especially when looking at a high-traffic commercial project like the Nordstrom outlet”.

“Neolith by TheSize addressed our concerns from a design perspective since it offered an array of tile colours to create patterns of horizontal movement, limited grout lines, varying panel heights and lengths to further reinforce the random nature of the façade, and allowed for lasting warm colours. From a functional perspective, Neolith provided the durable properties essential to the build.” A key concern for the project related to weather. It was important the façade material was able to withstand the coefficient of thermal expansion in Ottawa, as well as the city’s extreme fluctuations in temperature. Neolith’s unique manufacturing process means the product is resistant to ice, high temperatures, and UV rays, making it ideal for withstanding harsh weather conditions. Once it was confirmed that Neolith could be securely fastened to the building via the use of a unique mechanical installation system, Neolith’s lightweight properties meant installation was simplified.

The exterior storefront has several sharp angles and edges as a result of the façade being raised away from the main structure. Using Neolith, a chamfer miter was possible, allowing for seamless L-shaped pieces for cladding the outside corners. This resulted in an overall aesthetic improvement since the avoidance of unsightly vertical lines also meant no sealing caulk, and hence no future discolouration. The project utilised both 90° and 136° degree miters, giving the building an effortlessly seamless appearance. Aside from a clean, smooth look, the architects were also looking for specific colours. To contrast with the concrete and stone buildings surrounding the area, the façade was to be mostly bright white, in matte and polished finishes, with tan and grey accents. The team selected Neolith Arctic White in a Satin finish as the base, and accented the design with scattered panels of Barro, Perla and Arena in Satin and Polished finishes. Neolith’s portfolio of over 50 colours and five finishes gave the team a vast amount of aesthetic freedom to get the design just right.

Travis Conrad, Architectural Consultant, TheSize comments: “We were pleased to be able to offer a product and system that evenly matched the high-end quality of the Rideau Centre, Nordstrom and Callison, and one that aided the architectural team to focus on crafting a truly beautiful space.”

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