Sunburst ceiling design shines new light on aging food court

Sunburst ceiling design shines new light on aging food court

Photos courtesy Armstrong Ceiling Solutions

The Gulf Canada Square Food Court was beginning to show its age and its food service tenants were concerned they might be losing business to other fast-food venues in Calgary’s busy downtown business district.

Deciding it was time for an update, owners of the 20-story Gulf Canada Square building, which is connected to other buildings in the area by the city’s elevated Plus 15 walkway, commissioned Stantec Architects of Calgary to come up with a plan for refreshing the space that would work with the existing seating configuration.

Working with the curvilinear shape of the room, the design team replaced the existing drywall ceiling with a dynamic, new wood ceiling radiating out in a sunburst design above the food court. “The space lent itself to an oval shape, so we just played off that shape and the placement of the existing structural columns to develop this large, oval-shaped ceiling with lines radiating out from the center,” says project architect Craig Ainsworth.

Different size and shape for each panel
The 316 m2 (3400-sf) ceiling is made up of 234 uniquely-shaped custom WoodWorks Access panels from Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions, which when installed together created the oval-shaped design. “The panels get gradually smaller as they approach the center,” says Ainsworth. “No panel was the same size or shape. It was very complex.”

The design team was tasked with finding a solution that was not only visually exciting but would allow access to the mechanical components in the plenum. “Each of the wood panels is easily removable to service the equipment,” says Ainsworth.

The wood panels feature a dark cherry finish and the grain pattern on each individual panel was customized to flow outward from the center of the oval. “The grain on each individual panel was laid up on the face of the panel to create a grain pattern flowing from the center of the oval to the perimeter in all directions when the ceiling is viewed as a whole,” explains Jerry Grabusky, architectural specialties project manager for Armstrong Ceilings, who worked with the design team on the project.

With a consistent 152 mm (6 in.) reveal between each of the panels, the design team was able to incorporate an energy-efficient lighting layout and take advantage of the acoustical properties of the new ceiling. “Because the sound could now go up into the ceiling plenum space above, we were able to take advantage of the acoustic treatment on the back of the panels,” explains Ainsworth.

Situated on the second floor of the building adjacent to the Plus 15 passageway, the food court remained open during the renovation and a temporary enclosure was erected to protect the public and shield the construction area from view.

Like building a spider web
Working from a scaffold platform above the food court, Midwest Group, the Calgary contractor who installed the ceiling, established the lines for the drywall grid system and laid out the panel suspension hardware and fastened it to the drywall system at specific locations for each individual panel. “The suspension system ran continuous throughout the ceiling,” adds Grabusky. “The hanging hardware located on the back of each panel had to be co-ordinated with the grid location running above.” All the parts for the ceiling installation were provided by Armstrong Ceilings.

The installation required great attention to details. “We had a different shop drawing for each panel,” says Dan McMahon, operations manager for Midwest Group. “We worked our way from the inside out so we would know which panel went where. It was almost like building a spider web. It took a bit of tweaking to make the ceiling look like it was flowing, but basically it all came down to proper layout at the beginning.”

The drywall grid was painted black to obscure the mechanical components in the ceiling. “Everything else behind the ceiling disappears, so these wood panels became the predominant plane of the ceiling,” says Ainsworth.

A 102-mm (4-in.) curved wood trim was attached to the edge of the panels on the perimeter of the ceiling to provide a finished look.

A simpler solution
The design team had initially considered using custom millwork, but found the WoodWorks Access panels to be a simpler solution. “They provided a better solution because of their lightweight nature and their acoustic properties,” says Ainsworth. “Millwork would have been more expensive, heavier, and more difficult to specify in detail. The WoodWorks Access system actually simplified the challenge of providing a simplified solution.”

For more information on Armstrong WoodWorks ceilings, visit

All information listed in this section was submitted by Armstrong World Industries.
Kenilworth Media Inc. and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) cannot assume responsibility for errors of relevance,
fact or omission. The publisher nor CSC does not endorse any products featured in this article.

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