When it comes to getting noticed, La Maison Simons is an expert at turning heads. This August, Simons continued its tradition of standing out in a crowd with the opening of a new location at the Galeries d'Anjou mall in Montreal's east end. Spanning 10,684 square metres, the outlet boasts a unique street-front look made possible with Béton Préfabriqué du Lac (BPDL) precast concrete, as well as the design expertise of LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture Design.
“LEMAYMICHAUD had a very specific vision for Simons' store in the Galeries d'Anjou, and precast concrete was the only material that had the flexibility to make that design happen,” says Guy Tremblay, technical director with BPDL. That vision was a precast exterior featuring embedded fibre optics designed to change the look and mood of Simons' appearance throughout the day.
The challenge for BPDL was to design a series of molds with inset recesses to house fibre optics that could then be outfitted with coloured disks. BPDL's success in this task allowed LEMAYMICHAUD to bring Simon's exterior to life through thousands of alternating lights that cycle from Simons' green and white colour scheme during the day, and settle on a more subdued palette at night. “Our goal was to create an iconic building for this world class fashion store. For this, we wanted to create a minimalist building with a unique texture,” says Philippe Blais, architect with LEMAYMICHAUD. “We achieved just that, with the sleek white concrete surfaces and the impact of the fibre optics. Everybody’s talking about the glittering facade.”
As one would expect, the complexity of LEMAYMICHAUD's design posed something of a challenge for BPDL. Specifically, Tremblay notes that the varying configurations of recesses in each of the panels equated to a more complex fabrication process. “Getting
lights into the panels was a challenge because we had to make so many molds to make thousands of them,” he says. “Sometimes, a little change in the recess sizes or alignment required a new mold. In some ways that was the biggest challenge: trying to keep this project both economical and, at the same time, interesting for the client.” In total, nearly 140 white-coloured double wythe insulated panels were plant cast, and cover a total of 5,508 square metres. Each precast panel features close to 600 recesses, with panels of various layouts and thicknesses distributed about the facade.
Thanks to BPDL's efforts and LEMAYMICHAUD's design, Galeries d'Anjou now has a dynamic new anchor, and Simons has a cutting-edge addition to its growing chain of stores. It's an accomplishment both BPDL and LEMAYMICHAUD's teams take great pride in achieving. As for its impact on the construction scene, Tremblay believes Simons' new location serves as a testament to the versatility of precast concrete, noting, “In my book, there's just no limit to what can be created with precast.”
La Maison Simons
Béton Préfabriqué du Lac (BPDL)
Constructions Albert Jean ltée
Structure Universelle inc.
Canadian Precast Prestressed Concrete Institute
PO Box 24058 Hazeldean, Ottawa Ontario, Canada K2M 2C3