one of the comforts of home


…is the security of your investment.

At Glasshouse Skylofts, your investment in your new home is secured in three important ways:

1. Your deposit is secured.

Like all Urban Capital projects across Canada, your deposit at Glasshouse Skylofts is insured by Aviva Canada, in accordance with the terms of your purchase and sale agreement.

2. Your home is warranted by National Home Warranty.

At Glasshouse, you don’t just have a builder’s warranty, you have the comfort of new home warranty coverage from a national provider, backed by Aviva.

3. Urban Capital is a well-established, reputable developer.

Finally, there’s the Urban Capital story itself. Across the country, we have successfully delivered over 3,200 units with another 2,400 currently under development.

For more information, contact Gary or Max Bachman. 

getting the details right

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the greats among modern architecture and the inspiration behind Glasshouse’s clean, modern design, said “God is in the details”.

To demonstrate the details of its creations, Urban Capital recently hosted the Glasshouse design and construction teams – together with the equivalent teams from its Halifax and Chicago projects – in Toronto to visit two of the developments UC currently has under construction in that city. The purpose: to see and understand the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that Urban Capital seeks to deliver to its purchasers.

At Tableau, the first stop, the group of close to twenty braved a ride up the hoist to the 36th floor and then walked down to ground, seeing at first floors where concrete had only just been poured, and by the end floors with fully completed units, i.e. the entire sequence of constructing an Urban Capital unit. From discussing the way to locate ducts so as to achieve the maximum possible volume of clean, open space, to reviewing precautions that need to be taken to protect finishes, the group looked at every aspect of unit design and delivery.

At River City Phase 2, the second stop, the teams saw an almost fully completed building, and focused on suite selections and finishes, amenities, customer service, and the process for delivering suites and dealing with warranty items.

All in all, the day was an intense indoctrination into the right way to approach condominium development and delivery, from unit planning, design and construction, to purchaser relations, and finally on to homeowner occupancy. The team had a chance to talk about the lessons learned from past developments, and solutions to overcome past challenges. The best news is that everyone took the lessons from Urban Capital’s experience of building thousands of urban condominiums in some of Canada’s strongest markets, and from dealing with thousands of home purchasers, so that they could now be applied for the benefit of Glasshouse Lofts.

So maybe on this particular trip it wasn’t God that was in the details, it was just the Glasshouse team. But it felt good to be there.

home-grown concrete

Glasshouse’s floors are grown in Manitoba’s prairie fields

About an hour west of Winnipeg, on a two lane highway that slices through immense fields of early spring mud, squeezed between a rail spur and a gravel rural road and on the edge of a tiny collection of homes that claim this spot on the prairies as Haywood, lies the family home of the Poiriers. In the time since their grandfather moved his family to this hamlet, the descendants have turned their former homestead into a complex that claims 22 acres of fields not producing canola, or wheat, but huge harvests of concrete materials.

The Poirers have a rugged production plant that is manufacturing all 160,000 square feet of precast “hollowcore” planks for Glasshouse. These are large sections of concrete floor produced on beds 480 feet long. Instead of reinforcing bars typically used when casting concrete in forms, large cables are placed in tension from one end of the production bed to the other. A machine travels the length of the bed, simultaneously dispensing concrete and forming the planks’ exterior shape and internal circular openings (flutes), all at a precise speed.

During the production process testing is also done to ensure that the strength of both the concrete and reinforcing steel are in accordance with the project specifications. The production plant has their own licensed professional engineer who specializes in precast concrete and reviews all the data.

The hollowcore is labelled, and held in allotted areas within the storage compound prior to shipping. The Poiriers work to have approximately eight floors available for delivery to the site at any time. Since mid-March that shipping has been underway, resulting in the floors that you see being installed right now.

beaming with pride

Glasshouse Skylofts will have a beautiful glazed skin, it will be a true reflection of the clear prairie sky in the heart of downtown. Its foundation and building cores are solid reinforced concrete masses, bearing the weight of the structure and tieing the Glasshouse tower forever to the continental bedrock. The hidden but valuable performer is the steel framework, an efficient assembly of steel beams and columns that is engineered, welded and interconnected to transfer wind loads and floor weights to the massive concrete foundation.

This week we started the installation of steel on the Glasshouse site. There will be just over 400 tons of structural steel incorporated into the highrise, someindividual columns have 14 inch flanges and weigh 311 pounds per lineal foot. In total Glasshouse will contain the same amount of steel required to build 450 average sized cars. These steel columns are forged in American mills, shipped by rail to the local fabrication plant where modifications for the engineered connections and/or alternate coating treatments are applied (galvanized versus primer paint or other options depending on the intended use of that steel), then brought to the site in lengths that are three stories long. The majority of steel beams in Glasshouse are a specialty product that was originally designed and engineered in Europe and is now manufactured in Quebec.

The use of steel in highrise buildings is a significant part of Winnipeg’s constructed history. Back in the early part of the 20th century Our Town was the Breadbasket of the Nation and our aspirations for great commercial status among world cities was displayed in the steel framed structures built in that era and that still stand throughout our downtown. Today the excitement associated with the confidence in our economic vitality continues to be tied to the presence of architectural steelwork, as witnessed by the prominent play given to the Glasshouse project in our local media. The proper yet flowery text of yesteryear’s press is gone, and instead we speak frankly of the dimensions of these steel members, and proudly declare that it feels great that their erection is underway.

winter construction

Extra measures are required to deal with the challenging climate for the six months that Winnipeg isn’t a summer paradise on the prairies and feels more like a suburb of Santa’s workshop.

The onset of colder temperatures means that concrete has to be protected so that the moisture in the concrete does not freeze and become a weak point in the structure. The best means of reducing this possibility is to shroud the work area around the concrete and to heat the interior environment.

You may have been by the Glasshouse Skylofts site lately and wondered about the recent spectacular installation. Perhaps it felt like a Roald Dahl moment and there was an expectation that James would emerge from this giant, distorted peach but in fact the massive hoarding has been erected for virtually the entire length of the site to allow complete weather protection while the three concrete cores (two stairs and the elevator shaft) are constructed. This large orange bubble will rise a floor approximately every two to three weeks for the next year while the building climbs skyward.

Inside the hoarding there are work platforms running the entire perimeter surface of the cores allowing work crews to continue framing the next floor while stripping forms from the previous floor as it completes the required curing period. The sloped roof opens when required to allow concrete pours to take place.

Maybe it isn’t so much “James and the Giant Peach” and more “Charlie and the Concrete Factory”….

a new crane rises


The tower crane being used for Glasshouse Skylofts is manufactured by the company founded by the inventor of tower crane technology, Frenchman Faustin Potain. While there are several crane manufacturers, it’s somewhat surprising that, in light of the intense skyscraper activity and focus of those great American cities, all tower crane companies base their core manufacturing operations in Europe. This is because of the stringent performance standards of the steel involved.

Our crane, a Potain MD 365, was most recently used in the construction of the ALT Hotel at Centrepoint, and after relocation to the Glasshouse site has been assembled to its finished height of 260 feet to the operator’s cab. The Glasshouse crane has 23,800 Kg (52,470 lbs) of concrete counterweights at the end of the boom, and the capability of lifting 6,600 Kg (14,550 lbs) at the end of the 50 meter (160 ft) boom.  It has been specifically assembled to be able to stand independently of the Glasshouse tower, and eliminate the need for tiebacks to the building. Our crane operator, Clarence, operated the crane during the construction of the ALT Hotel at Centrepoint and was featured in several local media stories.

 The greatest question is on how the tower crane gets assembled. That, my friends, is a mystery we’ll have to discuss someday after we uncover how they put the caramel in the Caramilk bar.

it’s not just smart looks

We spent a bit of time in the wizard’s lair known as CARSI (Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure) on the campus of Red River Community College toiling and tinkering with the glazing system that envelopes the Glasshouse Skylofts. The quest was to see how the system holds up to Winnipeg’s intense seasonal challenges and identify any possible areas of improvement in both the product itself and the installation methods.

Sitting within a wall that separates two environmental control chambers, a mockup of the glazing and floor assemblies underwent a series of simulations on indoor/outdoor temperature differentials, pressure differentials to simulate the impact of wind, and humidity differentials between the indoors and outdoor environments that are separated by our glazed envelope. The wizard of CARSI would use a smoke pencil to trace around each window edge in order to trace the air movement around the frames, and numerous temperature sensors were placed on the glazing, the floor assembly (to track if there was any cooling of the floor slab under simulated winter conditions) and the wall surface adjacent to the exterior glazing assembly. There was no chance that any problems would go unidentified.

In the end, the report told us that the building envelope should perform very well under Winnipeg’s very specific environmental conditions, and also provided direction on installation techniques to ensure the best possible performance. This information has been provided to the design team and trades to ensure that what we’ve learned in school gets applied on site. Smart!

week 1 – 4

Fitting to the Glasshouse Skylofts project, we start with a smash hit. Once the surveyors have set painstakingly exact locations, work begins by pounding approximately 136 steel piles, each about 55 feet long through the Manitoba clay and into the solid bedrock below. These piles form the roots that anchor the Glasshouse tower. Each steel pile is driven into the ground by a “hammer” (weighing about the same as the average car) striking the steel (that weighs about 117 lbs per foot) with 48,742 ft.  lbs of energy 35 times per minute until it reaches bedrock. Each pile is then capable of supporting 1,004,221 lbs. and is the origin of the “sound of progress” that echoed throughout the downtown streets for approximately 25 days.

The steel piles are tied together in clusters by concrete pile caps. Layers of reinforcing steel are tied and encapsulated within solid concrete slabs over a three and a half feet thick. These pile caps will support the vertical structure of the Glasshouse Skylofts tower.