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Building Material


Fenestration refers to the design and placement of windows in structures. It has become an all encompassing term for all products that provide openings into a structure including windows, doors, skylights, vents, and wall panels.



Fenestration in the Great Wall of China

An essential aspect of structures is a means to get in and out as well as a way to draw sunlight and fresh air into the structure. Fenestration enables the residents of structures to do this. The earliest types of fenestration were simply holes built into a structure.

To provide shelter from the elements numerous methods were utilized to cover these openings when not in use. Windows and doors were created as a means to improve the functionality of a structure. The Romans were the first to implement glass into their structures during the first century AD. However translucent paper would be the predominate window material up until the 17th century.[1]

Use in Building Construction

a "window wall"

Fenestration is no longer installed to just provide utilitarian functions, they have now become an architectural focal point. There are thousands of companies providing fenestration to cater to any of their clients needs.

When considering fenestration there are four key aspects to consider:

*Climate: The purpose of fenestration is to keep weather out when it's bad and to let it in when it's good. Buildings in colder climates need to have fenestration that is able to retain heat. This will involve choosing a window of considerable thickness and a properly sealing door in order to keep down heating costs.

*Material: The materials used in fenestration are constantly being refined and reinvented. It is important to choose a material that fits into your budget and can withstand the climate in your region.

*Aesthetics: Fenestration plays a crucial role to the presentation of a structure.

*Warranty: Fenestration takes a lot of abuse from both the weather and its owners, if you think how many times a door is opened and closed daily. To gain the most out of your investment, look into the warranties offered by manufactures before purchase. Many offer lifetime warranties.[2]

Glass Houses

The flagships of Vancouverism

Within Condopedia, you will notice a reoccurring theme among condominiums built in the 21st century ... glass. Architects are doing away with traditional brick and concrete facades and in turn, are replacing them with glass.

Attributed to the postmodern movement, glass gives occupants an impression of having more space. It allows developers to market the stunning views that many of their buildings provide. A driving factor for the volume of construction of these type of buildings can be attributed to the Vancouverism model that has been successfully incorporated into other cities. This form of urban revitalization pioneered in Vancouver utilized glass condominiums as one of its defining features.[3]

The passing of Local Law 11 in New York City also has led developers to find alternative facade material.

Some of the detriments of these glass enclosed structures may include lower energy efficiency, reduced privacy and the potential for windows to leak.[4]

Examples of Glass Condominium Towers

56 Leonard Street 56 Leonard Street, New York City, NY

Construction on this very tall residential skyscraper began in mid-2007 but met with financial set backs due to the financial melt down of 2009.

Work was stalled from 2010 and in 2012, the developer, Alexico Group, re-launched the project with new contractor, Lend Lease U.S. Construction Co.

Originally scheduled to open for sales in 2013, that date has been reset to 2014 with full completion of the project slated for 2015.

Nevertheless, 56 Leonard Street, or more simply, 56 Leonard, will be a striking addition to New York City's skyline in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan, the "Triangle Below Canal" Street.

The architects themselves describe this building as "houses stacked in the sky", due to varying offsets of the floor plates which gives the structure a "house of cards" sense rather than a typical rectilinear, standard tower.

Upon completion, 56 Leonard will stand out against TriBeCa's normal architecture of post war, brick and limestone clad structures by displaying its outer sculpted surfaces clad with shiny glass, in addition to its sheer height.

Marketing and promotional material for 56 Leonard is boasting individual and unique floor plans for all the 145 suites. They range in size from one bedroom units to 5 bedroom penthouses, all with glass walls for undisturbed views of Manhattan in all directions.

Quaywest 1033 Marinaside Crescent & 1067 Marinaside Crescent, Vancouver, BC

Quaywest Buildings

The Quaywest Resort Residences are a pair of high-rise buildings located on the waterfront of Vancouver's prestigious Yaletown neighbourhood. Built in 2001, they were the last towers to be erected on Marinaside Crescent East of Davie Street.

Known for its fabulous amenities and great location, it has been popular with owner-occupiers and rental tenants alike.

Quaywest was designed by long time high-profile Vancouver architect James Cheng.

It is a relatively simple modern design, fitting with the look of the neighbourhood, which has been built entirely by the same developer, Concord Pacific.

It is built on a concrete perimeter, and constructed with concrete. The exterior of the building is a mix of glass, metal and brick accents around the lower floors and some of the common areas.

Evo 1155 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA

Enveloped in sculpted glass and metal this lovely example of modern architecture rises 23 floors and houses 311 loft style residences, including five two story townhouses that will be accessible from the street.

Inside every unit, each detail and finish were carefully selected to provide a unique look within a unified style into each home.

Like its sister projects the Elleven Lofts and Luma Lofts Condos, Evo South Condos was constructed and designed with sustainable and environmentally responsible principles in mind.

The rooftop "Two Forty" lounge offers residents a dramatic and exclusive retreat overlooking the city from two hundred forty feet above.

Chandler 450 East Waterside Dr, Chicago, IL

The Chandler is a high-rise residential building that contains 36 floors and 307 residences, and is a part of the Lakeshore East urban community development.

It was completed in 2008 by Magellan Development Group, and was designed by renowned architects DeStefano + Partners, with an exterior of rounded, almost oval shaped contours, constructed out of chic blue tinted glass.

The building has asymmetrically placed inset balconies that can be seen from the exterior. The blue glass against the red façade make the Chandler stand out among its surroundings, with the slimmer sides of the building white and red concrete, and the wide front and back of the building almost completely glass.

A glass canopied entrance welcomes guests and residents from street level into the building's lobby.


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Fenestration Association of British Columbia
  3. Green Energy Windows
  4. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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