The harsh landscape of Canada’s Northwest Territories is incorporated to great effect in the striking McDonald Drive Condominium project in Yellowknife. The building’s curved, stacked form and perching foundations align directly with its site, an historic, massive outcropping of bedrock overlooking the town and nearby lake.
Highlighting the design for the eight-structure is an unusual installation application of RHEINZINK. Approximately 13,000 sq. ft. of 0.8mm/22 gauge RHEINZINK Pre-weathered Blue-Gray material was used to clad the building. Standard one-meter-wide rolls of RHEINZINK were top-hung from the structure with minimal cutting and crimping. Stainless steel washers and screws fasten the RHEINZINK loosely in place, allowing for expansion and contraction.
Zinc is one of the few metals used in building that is native to the Northwest Territories. It was previously mined near Yellowknife.
Design for the project was done by Pin/Taylor Architects, Yellowknife. “It was logical to use zinc because of its longevity and its compatibility with the indigenous environment here,” said Gino Pin, principal. “It has a beautiful variegated patina that picks up on the ambient light spectrum—if the sky is moody, the zinc takes on a moody atmosphere; if the sky is bright, so is the zinc. The beautiful light we have here really plays on the zinc surface.”
From a practical standpoint, Pin was able to reduce labor costs due to his innovative installation of the RHEINZINK cladding. “The shortage of materials and skilled labor in Yellowknife can add significant costs to the project,” according to Pin. “Our application was simple yet effective and definitely a money saver.”
As a result, the building has an oil-canned façade that might cause a second look by architectural traditionalists. “The intent was to achieve a wavy look with the sheets of RHEINZINK to capitalize on the reflections from the nearby water. It gives a beautiful effect,” Pin said.
The RHEINZINK was installed by Arcan Roofing and Cladding Ltd., Hay River, NT. The construction manager on the project was Tundra Construction and Development, Yellowknife.