Laminated glass to replace tempered balcony panels at troubled Toronto condos

Glass Magazine
August 18, 2011
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION : PROJECTS

In an Aug. 17 statement to the media, Lanterra Developments, developer of the Toronto condominium developments that have been shedding glass balcony lites in recent months, announced that it will immediately remove the glass panels and railing systems in the affected buildings at the Bedford, Grenville and Grosvenor addresses. Lanterra is taking this action at the recommendation of independent engineering expert, BVDA Facade Engineering, which examined two of the properties in question.

Microscopic imperfections buried within the glass lite are behind the spate of exploding glass balconies on the downtown condo towers, says Mark Brook, a partner at BVDA Fa├žade Engineering. He recently discovered nickel sulfide crystals in two of the shattered lites, according to an Aug. 18 Toronto Star report.

Lanterra's announcement follows a series of incidents in which glass fell from the Grosvenor St. condo to the street below. Last week, a pedestrian suffered injuries to her hand after glass fell from a balcony on the development's south tower, according to an Aug. 15 article from CityNews Toronto. Glass has fallen from the building's north tower as many as eight times in recent months, according to the article. 

In May of this year, BVDA Facade Engineering recommended reinforcing the balcony railing systems at the Toronto properties. "We acted immediately on this recommendation, but in light of the more recent events at the Bedford and Grenville locations, Lanterra has made the decision to fully remove the tempered glass in all three buildings," officials said in the statement.

"Secondly, Lanterra Developments has further stipulated that the tempered glass on these balconies will be replaced with a laminated glass solution that closely resembles the type of safety glass utilized in automobile windshields. The advantage of utilizing laminated glass is that in combination with using the latest available railing technologies, these laminated panels retain their structure in the event of a fracture and stay in place on the balcony should any breakage occur," officials stated.

In its own Aug. 19 media statement, officials of Toro Aluminum Railings, a balcony guard railing manufacturer that installed some of the glass railings at the downtown Toronto condominiums, said they support the installation of heat treated laminated glass balcony railings and advocate a review of the applicable building codes as they relate to tempered glass railings installation in high-rise buildings.

"Toro Aluminum Railings also supports Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam's call for a broad investigation into the increased incidents of spontaneous glass breakages in Toronto," according to the Market Wire release. 

Read the Lanterra statement in its entirety...