Volume 27, number 1, June 2013

The Tour des Canadiens: major challenges

The Montréal Canadiens are an integral part of the history of hockey in North America – the oldest professional hockey team in the world, one of the original six NHL teams, and still to this day the team that has hoisted the Stanley Cup the most often. Soon, the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, Cadillac Fairview, Canderel, and the Club de hockey Canadien will be adding another success to that history – this time, one that has very little in common with hockey. It is the Tour des Canadiens, a new construction project, which, with 552 units, 51 floors and a total area of 462,000 ft2, will become the highest condominium tower in Montréal.

Such a prestigious building is not simple to design. Several issues had to be brilliantly and thoroughly thought through in order to meet the building’s stringent demands.

The design team had quite a few challenges to overcome in their work. The first was how to transport energy in the building. The team chose to install a mixed water loop supplied by the internal energy gains recovered from the restaurants and commercial spaces – zones that release a lot of heat. The loop helps direct and channel energy to the right areas, in line with the building’s needs.

When the demand for heating is greater than the internal gains, the three boilers, with a total capacity of 10,500,000 BTU/h, ensure that the water loop is at the right temperature in order to supply the energy needed.

High-efficiency heat pumps are used for heating the units and, given the limited space available for conduits, the heat is distributed by minimum ventilation. A diffuser at the entrance to each room ensures air circulation at the right temperature.

A second design challenge was to ensure good ventilation while reducing the use of conduits in order to optimize each unit’s space and thus retain high ceilings. Given the ceiling height, it became problematic to heat the perimeter to ground level by ventilation. To counter the effect of radiation from the expanse of windows and the height of the building, the designers elected to install electric baseboard heaters around the perimeter to complement the heat pumps.

A third major challenge encountered by the design team was balancing air. The chimney effect of a very high building is extremely difficult to control. It therefore becomes important to choose a mechanical ventilation strategy that limits openings between the floors, such as vertical wells and the like. In the case of a normal design, ventilation systems are installed on the roof to supply warm air downward and vent it as it rises. Now, in this case, a poor draft condition would have drawn the warm air toward the outdoors, which would have caused an enormous chimney effect due to the height of the building and created some discomfort for the occupants. To avoid this phenomenon, the ventilation of each floor is independent from the others in order to limit the chimney effect to a minimum, and independent systems on each floor ensure the pressurisation of common corridors. Each condominium unit is ventilated independently and stale air is vented on each floor. Thus, the only remaining vertical wells are the elevators and the garbage chute.

One of the final challenges, also related to the height of the building, concerned pressurisation of the domestic water and the fire protection systems. To ensure a supply of quality water to all the condo owners, the building is fitted with variable speed, multi-stage domestic water pumps, pressurizing approximately 1,000 US gpm of water at more than 300 psi. A pumping system in a series configuration (pumps in the basement and on the 10th floor) protects the building from fire. The system provides the pressures required to fire protect the building.

Also worth mentioning is the 4,000 gallon supply of hot water produced by the natural gas condensing boilers, which have a total capacity of 13,000,000 BTU/h. The design team had to ensure there was constant pressure on each floor and so tanks are installed on the 10th and the 51st floors in order to separate the building into two. The first system, on the 10th floor, supplies the lower half of the tower, while a gravity supply for the upper floors comes from the 51st floor.

In conclusion, the height of the building and the number of units created several major challenges to which the design team had to find solutions. Dividing the building in two, thereby eliminating the problems related to its height, was fundamental to their decisions and this solution is readily transferable to other construction projects.

Dominique Frenette, T.P., PA LEED BD+C
Director, Commercial Market
Bouthillette Parizeau

Sami Maksoud, Eng., CMVP, LEED GA®
DATECH Group, Gaz Métro