Luxenbourg III, a five-story luxury apartment, represents Logisbourg's addition of an advanced precast wall system, SlenderWall, to its technology portfolio.
Stephane Groleau Luxenbourg III, a five-story luxury apartment, represents Logisbourg's addition of an advanced precast wall system, SlenderWall, to its technology portfolio.

Remaining on top in a competitive residential rental market requires developers to stay savvy on a range of issues, from today’s latest color palettes to new construction technologies. The Canadian firm Logisbourg in Quebec City, has managed this with a portfolio that now includes about 1,000 units. Its latest addition, Luxenbourg III, a five-story luxury apartment, represents the company’s addition of an advanced precast wall system – SlenderWall – to its technology portfolio.

Building design is just one of the ways the company demonstrates its leadership. For example, the first two buildings in the Luxenbourg development were among the earliest in North America to feature the Finnish company Peikko’s lightweight DELTABEAM Slim Floor structural system, also used for the Luxenbourg III.

The grid-based Slim Floor system is designed to allow for spans of up to 52 feet; for a residential developer, that allows for more of the open floor plans today’s renters desire. And it’s delivered to a jobsite with predesigned, standardized connections that allow for much faster construction than similar approaches.

“We are one of the only companies that build like this in Quebec City, and maybe the entire province,” says Logisbourg project manager Jean-Simon Généroux. ”You know exactly what it’s going to cost and exactly how much time, It’s like LEGO blocks.”

A Perfect Precast Partner

SlenderWall, licensed by Easi-Set Worldwide, proved a perfect match with the Peikko system. This all-in-one approach incorporates precast concrete’s design flexibility into a lighter-weight assembly that also includes a vapor barrier, insulation and interior framing studs. Like Peikko’s structural elements, SlenderWall panels are delivered to the customer ready for assembly, with connections cast into place. And, when required, the panels also can be fabricated to be load-bearing, which was a requirement with the Slim Wall plan.

“It’s not a high rise, so we don’t have to have the load on each floor,” Généroux says. Instead, the wall panels are designed to stack on top of each other in a load-bearing fashion. “For five stories, there’s no problem with that.’

Speeding construction even further, SlenderWall panels can be delivered with all windows pre-installed, so the building envelope is essentially sealed once panels are installed and caulked. This was a valuable option for Logisbourg because, as Généroux, notes. “To install the windows in the precast plant is a lot faster, and the quality is better.”

Strong Performance and Good Looks

Beyond providing an accelerated construction schedule, SlenderWall panels also offered Logisbourg performance advantages that are critical in a climate as challenging as Quebec City’s. The city’s average low temperatures drop well into the single digits in January and February, earning it a Zone 7 designation from the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code. SlenderWall panels feature closed-cell foam insulation that is installed at the factory to ensure continuous, even coverage, along with the proprietary ThermaGuard connection system that creates an air gap to reduce thermal transfer by as much as 25%, compared to a traditional architectural precast system. SlenderWall panels also have been independently laboratory tested to meet IECC thermal performance requirements up to Zone 8 in the U.S. and Canada.

SlenderWall closeup.
Stephane Groleau SlenderWall closeup.

SlenderWall also offered aesthetic advantages, with finish options that enabled consistency with a style set by the adjacent Luxenbourg II building. That structure features a face-brick pattern that SlenderWall licensed precast producerBPDL was able to replicate using SlenderWall’s Second Nature architectural precast brick finish. Not only does this option save time and labor versus a jobsite-installed veneer approach, it also eliminates the possibility of future grout-joint leaks as it’s form-cast in the factory.

Fabricating a Strong Relationship

BPDL’s support proved invaluable in a range of other ways, as well, according to Généroux. The Quebec-based precast concrete fabricator operates internationally, with plants in Canada, the United States and Brazil. The company offers a range of precast products, along with related design and engineering assistance.

BPDL’s expertise with SlenderWall proved a relief for Logisbourg, following an unfortunate experience with the wall fabricator and competing product supplied for the previous building,Luxenbourg II. “We had a lot of trouble with coordination, and when the walls for Luxenbourg II came to the site, there were mistakes,” Généroux says, describing a number of schedule-busting frustrations. Though the precast product being supplied was, like SlenderWall, meant to include factory-applied insulation, some panels showed up missing that insulation and were rejected even before being removed from the delivery truck. “We had a really bad experience – the quality wasn’t there.”

So, when plans started developing for the third building on the Luxenbourg site, Généroux wanted clear assurance this new project’s fabricator could meet Logisbourg’s high quality standards. BPDL stood out from the start.

“When we asked for quotes, BPDL took care of each detail,” Généroux says, and that added attention continued throughout the project’s development. “We went to the BPDL shop two times – it’s really professional. And we had a great project manager in Luc Beaumont.”

Construction on Luxenbourg III was completed in late spring of 2017, and tenants now are moving into the building’s 54 luxury units, each featuring high-end amenities like central vacuums and underfloor radiant heating. Logisbourg now has moved on to plans for three more buildings on the site, with SlenderWall and fabricator BPDL likely to remain team members for those projects and more.

SIDEBAR: What is SlenderWall?

More than just a lightweight precast architectural panel, SlenderWall is an entire envelope system in a monolithic, panelized unit. The 2-inch exterior face is a composite of architectural concrete and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibers with welded-wire reinforcement. Stainless-steel fasteners attach this exterior concrete face to 14- and 16-gauge, G90 galvanized-steel studs in a way that creates a thermal air gap that is filled with factory-applied, closed-cell foam insulation.

SlenderWall cutaway.
SlenderWall SlenderWall cutaway.

The entire SlenderWall assembly tips the scales at just a third the weight of a traditional 6-inch-thick architectural precast panel. Its cost and installation-efficiency benefits really come into play in high-rise designs that incorporate larger-format panels. In these projects, especially, architects will appreciate the fact that a single set of plans and details will take care of the entire building envelope.

Similarly, contractors eliminate the scheduling and warranty issues raised when multiple insulation and interior framing crews are required – and, in high-rises, the challenges of bringing in the oversized cranes necessary to lift significantly heavier architectural precast panels into placeare eliminated.

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