Storefront Stories: Projects Address Aesthetics, Performance and Renovations

Storefronts and entrances may seem like a small part of a building’s façade, but these are often the features that make a first impression, offering a glimpse of what to expect inside. Today’s storefronts and entrances often combine modernity, sustainability and even historical preservation. From grand structures to historic renovations, here’s a look at a few noteworthy projects.

Redefining a Retail Icon
Hotel Renfrow, Toronto

Restoring historic structures is part of the enjoyment— it provides an opportunity to bring new life to something that was once stuck in the past. Expanded and renovated storefronts help businesses compete, especially in markets such as high fashion, where the outside should reflect what is being sold on the inside: modernity and class.

Revitalization of luxury retailer Holt Renfrew’s Flagship store on Bloor Street in Toronto began in 2019. Holt Renfrew, is a Canadian luxury department store that was founded in 1837 by William S. Henderson. It is owned by Selfridges Group and has seven locations across Canada.

The project merged five different buildings into one 190,000-square-foot complex highlighting the grandeur of the store’s offerings. At the heart of the building’s 250-foot façade are AGNORA’s 20-foot high glass windows, overlooking the street and showcasing the Holt Renfrew sign.

Working with oversized architectural glass is challenging. In collaboration with contract glazier Stadia Glass & Door and architect Gensler, AGNORA suggested solutions to optimize the glazing and creative potential of the project while tuning into Holt Renfrew’s desire to inspire.

The project consisted of immense insulating glass units (IGUs) constructed with 6-mm Pilkington Optiwhite low iron glass married to 6-mm Saint Gobain Cool-lite SKN 076 II low-E coated glass with a Kuraray SentryGlas interlayer used on the exterior and a two-ply laminate of 6-mm Optiwhite low iron glass, also with SentryGlas structural interlayer on the interior.

The sealed IGUs help provide clarity, low deflection, resilience against break-in and high thermal performance for oversize windows.

To support the raised signage lettering on the face of the sealed units, AGNORA embedded Nupress threaded stainless-steel fittings (pucks) into the IGUs’ outboard laminates. Reverse countersunk holes were CNC-fabricated into lite one, and during lamination, fittings were placed within the countersunk holes as lite two was sandwiched on top. The fittings were secured in place after the lamination process was complete.

Approximately 50 Nupress fittings were installed using this method, which helped create a clean aesthetic and increase time efficiencies during the installation process, according to the company.

Stadia installed the glass directly off the truck as the building became ready. This also helped address storage issues and allow for more installation flexibility.

The signage seemingly floats over 24 long narrow lites each measuring 24 inches by 228 inches.

Sustainability and Protection – All at Home
Easton Park, Austin Texas

Easton Park is a residential community outside of Austin, Texas. The Union, Easton Park’s 14,000 square-foot amenity center includes a resort-style pool, a fitness facility, event space and a gaming area.

While the community needed an open and inviting facility that connects with nature, the Texas climate posed certain obstacles. The structure required high performance glass that can withstand intense heat. The design invited abundant natural light, so the glazing would have to keep interiors comfortable for residents.

Gensler specified Guardian SunGuard SNX 51/23 coating on clear glass for the Union. The triple silver coating has a high light transmission to help meet stringent energy codes, enhance daylighting and help reduce air conditioning demands. It also has a visible light transmission of 51% and a low 0.23 solar heat gain coefficient.

Guardian Glass supplied 6,800 square feet of its SunGuard SNX 51/23 coated glass to fabricator TriStar Glass Products based in Catoosa, Okla. The insulating glass units were installed by Floyd’s Glass Co., of Taylor, Texas. The structural glazing, which utilized Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® Reliance curtainwall, included large profile, 10-foot IGUs on the first floor, while the top pieces were customized to follow the steel profile of the roof.

Restoring and Preserving Historic Structures
Hotel Excelsior-Suites, Excelsior, Minn.

The Hotel Excelsior-Suites on Water Street in Excelsior, Minn., is located in the historic Miller Block building, which was built in the early 1900s. In keeping with the historic significance of the building, and in accordance with the Heritage Preservation Commission, SCW4500 storefront and entrance system from St. Cloud Window was selected to restore the original 1900s appearance. The glass supplier for this  project was Cardinal IG in Fargo, N.D., and the glazier was S&J Glass Inc. of Minneapolis. The glazing units are composed of 1-inch insulating glass, quarter-inch low-E tempered by half-inch Argon filled air space by quarter-inch clear tempered. Additionally, the system provides thermal values and blocks surrounding city noise in the first-floor lobby and retail space. HW2 Design + Architecture was the project architect.

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