General Electric’s new corporate office situated on floors 33 through 35 at 8th Avenue Place in Calgary overlooks the awe-inspiring landscape of the city’s downtown core. The architectural design is a sleek forward-looking mixture of metal and glass that moves seamlessly from floor to floor.
Canadian Acoustical Ceiling Supply Ltd. supplied the project with Pixels by CGC, Inc. – a specialty ceiling and wall panel installed by Calgary’s HT Drywall Contracting. Pixels help fulfill dramatic design criteria by transforming metal ceiling and wall-mounted panels into blank canvases for signature graphic designs.
“Pixels, enabled by Intelliperf Technology, turns photos or graphics into varied-size perforations in metal panels,” says CGC, Inc. “[They look] very ‘op-art’ close up and resolve into a clear image at a distance.”
The image is created by perforations, meaning the panels’ acoustical properties remain effective—Pixels panels, combined with an Acoustibond® backer, deliver NRCs up to 0.70. As an added bonus, the panels are made from aluminum with high-recycled content.
The individual panels can be as small as 2' x 2' or as large as 2' x 6' and can be put together in sequence to create much larger images.
Backlighting enhances the dramatic effect as in the GE office, where the café ceiling and elevator lobby walls feature the material.
Brad Warrington of Canadian Acoustical Ceiling Supply worked with HT Drywall and CGC, Inc. to meet the architectural requirements set out by Gensler Architecture. The Pixels product was combined with a 2’ x 6’ metal Celebration panel, also by CGC, Inc., which provided GE with a fully-concealed, downward accessible ceiling system. “Inserted onto these six-foot-long panels is an abstract design displayed as a negative image, complete with factory applied white acoustical backer, which was highlighted by plenum lighting that transformed this ceiling into an illuminating piece of art,” says Warrington.
“Matching CNC-cut MDF panels with custom-sized Celebration metal panels allowed for a product which will unquestionably stand the test of time,” he says.
HT Drywall’s team completed the installation with no track system and a tolerance of +/-1mm; there was absolutely no room for error. Panel installation was required around call buttons and lanterns while maintaining the flowing design. “Precision site measurements and the ever so important assistance from CGC provided all the tools for an unbelievable two-week fabrication time frame,” says Warrington.
HT Drywall completed drywall, steel studs, insulation, fire caulking, and the ceiling installation on the three floors for a total 67,000 square feet of office space. The 1,200-square-foot Pixels installation was only one part of the ceiling work—the rest was drywall and Armstrong acoustic panel—but definitely the most impactful and one that posed some important challenges.
Dave O’Brien, estimator at HT Drywall says the installation was tricky because the lighting was installed above the ceiling, meaning extensive co-ordination with the electrical team to make sure everything was correctly located. “It is a basic fine line t-bar grid system and the panels click into place,” he says. “A filler rod is placed between them and you use hold down clips. Once they are in, you leave them in there.”
In the elevator lobbies, Pixels are used in a wall application—one side of the lobby features logos and a wavy pattern, while white back-painted glass is mounted on the opposite side.
“There is a track screwed to wall and MDF as a backer to take the abuse,” says O’Brien. “Brad had to cut all the MDF and drill holes for the elevator lanterns and push buttons. He also had to cut the perimeter as well as circles for sprinklers and exit lights [in the café].”
The Pixels installation—Western Canada’s first—was a fitting addition to a stunning and contemporary mixed-material design that includes a three-storey, 40-foot-high wall with intricate stone work between the floors, and a stunning staircase that features glass handrails and Italian leather on the treads.
GE also requested glass doors to front each of 102 offices, but rather than hang them from the bulkhead, they appear as though hanging from and flush with the ceiling. “It was extremely difficult,” says O’Brien. “We engineered shop drawings for a 14-gauge box beam over every office door—a lot of steel and time went into that.”
The most challenging part of the project was the schedule – the contractor started in mid-November and turned over floors 33 and 35 in January. The office half of the 34th floor was completed early April, and the other half—the Innovation Centre—wrapped up at the end of April.
Article by Jessica Kirby