Acid-etching on all four surfaces of the insulating glass units of H&M’s flagship store in Toronto is a way to provide a high level of translucency without affecting the amount of light transmission from the light panels within the curtainwall system.

Multinational clothing retailer H&M wants people to “stop in their tracks” when they see the company’s first flagship store in Canada. To achieve that goal, Petroff Partnership Architects (PPA) specified Walker Textures acid-etched Opaque on Starphire Ultra-Clear low-iron glass by Vitro Architectural Glass. The result is a visual of glass and illumination at the bustling intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets in Toronto, also commonly known as “Times Square North.”

To meet the criteria outlined by H&M during design meetings, PPA designed the façade to be fully illuminated with maximum exposure through the use of Starphire glass. Using this glass for the vision panels at street level, helped the architect ensure that there would be no color shift, a common concern with the green hue inherent in clear glass.

Acid-etching on all four surfaces of the insulating glass units is a way to provide a high level of translucency without affecting the amount of light transmission from the light panels within the curtainwall system.

According to the announcement, using etched glass in this manner was unprecedented for the architect. After testing several variations of products using clear and etched surfaces, PPA concluded that the four-surface design with acid-etched opaque best achieved the desired look. The architect’s use of opaque glazing units in previous projects had been limited to the more traditional function of presenting a glazed surface with no visibility to the interior space, but the H&M project was PPA’s first design in which a curtainwall system was fully illuminated as part of the building envelope system.

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