Bergeron Centre

Bergeron Centre


Bergeron Centre

Toronto, ON


Modern building envelope design invariably gives a flavour of the activities taking place within. The Bergeron Centre on the York University campus was designed to reflect the innovative new curriculum being delivered at the Lassonde School of Engineering. What better group of facility users to experience a brilliantly engineered facade, than teachers and students of engineering.

ZAS Architects designed the upper portion of the facade to evoke the appearance and properties of a cloud, to convey a sense of the limitless creativity being encouraged by the school’s academic mission. Indeed, referred to as “the cloud” during design and installation, the moniker has stuck with faculty and students. The facade gives a sense of movement and depth, an effect which is rooted in the nine different radii on plan.

The building is now an awe-inspiring sight at York University. It stands in stark contrast to its architecturally uninspiring, concrete clad neighbours on campus, and yet seems quite at home set alongside a lake and sweeping landscape. The 169,00 sq. ft. building cost $85 million to construct, and is LEED Gold-targeted.


With the concept calling for a 10,000 flush triangular rain screen panels and glazing arranged in a mathematically-derived tessellated pattern that never repeats, over nine different radii on plan, there was no capacity for creep. Precise measurements were paramount; pre-construction mockups and modeling proved vital.

NFL used 3D modeling and 3D digital printing to prove fit and function of a custom adaptation of our NFL Accumet aluminum composite panel and NFL TB-50 glazing system.

NFL’s 3D digital model, developed with extensive laser scanning of the structure and its structural steel studwork, was overlaid onto the BIM model of the overall structure. Glass and framing dimensions were taken from the model, enabling early procurement of both. Laser scanning was also utilized to set out the adjustable sub-girt carrier for the panels and glazing pods to very tight tolerances.

During construction, NFL’s MFSE engineer paid regular visits to the site, to ensure that framing being installed by others was to agreed tolerances.

Bergeron Centre Northern Facades Project


Close collaboration between the teams was a key to success. A key goal for the project was, naturally, having the building open in time for the academic year. The build was in fact a 12-month fast-track program which would run through a Canadian winter This necessitated an integrated and collaborative approach to design and construction. The envelope was tendered as a design-assist RFP, and the general contractors oversaw a multidisciplinary process which included an open-plan shared office space for trades and project managers. NFL’s team even had the opportunity to work directly with the mathematician who had formulated the complex, non-repeating pattern of triangles.

The building was delivered through the health & safety programs of both the general contractors and NFL, with the envelope being completed with no incidents.

Early sequencing of the stud and pod structural stud framing, sheeting, AVB, and mineral fibre insulation facilitated a weather-tight building in advance of the installation of the metal and glazed panels, allowing the general contractor and trades to get an early start on interior fitting-out.

The final delivered construction is the result of some two years of collaborative effort on behalf of the Design team and ourselves as the specialist envelope contractors. The working relationship between all was constructive, sympathetic and inclusive from the start.


To further speed construction, NFL proposed assembling the panels in clusters off-site, and then lifting the clusters into place. Anywhere from 2 to 16 triangles comprised each cluster, which were installed into structural steed stud pods.

The glazing system afforded NFL an opportunity to innovate. The architect’s original concept for the shaped pod glazing called for traditional tubular glazing mullions, hipped, which would have resulted in up to 12 tubular mullions coming together at a node point. Our 3D clash modeling showed that this would not be constructible. We designed welded aluminum pods consisting of 10mm aluminum plates, laser-cut to the required angles and pitch of the glass as defined by digital models of each cluster. A modified thermally-broken veneer glazing system was applied to each pod cluster. This solution proved much more practical, and allowed the project team to achieve the intended aesthetic without compromise.

The plate mullions were welded to perimeter plate framing to accommodate the angles and facets of the glass, and to carry the custom aluminum system. Double-glazed vision units with a triangular frit pattern were attached using our TB-50 toggle clamping system.


The building is topped off with green roofs, which complete the harmony between the building and its surroundings.

As aesthetically pleasing as the finished building is, the engineering faculty and students would have been suitably awestruck by the production and installation of the exterior envelope. In fact, in some locations the welding and mechanical fastening is deliberately left exposed so that as students pursue their studies, they may understand and appreciate the engineering behind their school’s facade.

Bergeron Centre Northern Facades Project
Client name
Toronto, On