The Mystery of the Golden Building

A building coated of the metal more precious to mankind… and it has thermal qualities that make it practical, useful and unique



Hi, the magical night on 14 February is celebrated Valentine’s day in many places on the planet, that night we meet in the house of my aunt (from Toronto, you know) a select and small group of friends, of course, only the group most intimate and friendly . We were three hundred, as in the famous battle of The Thermopylae in the classical Greece, in which the King Leónidas I of Esparta fight against the powerful Persian Empire of Xerxes I.

At an undetermined time of the night, a small group of five people, including me, Rodolfo, we parted from the rest walking with winter clothes in the cold nights of Ontario. The pleasure of the company encouraged us to tell varied stories that generated in all of us the necessary feeling of group of an important event. There were two stories worthy of praise, a friend (Princess of some country) told us his experiences with the new system of gymnastics Piloxing and, as it could not be of another way, my history, in which I explain attendees the famous mystery of Gold building.


The Sixteenth Stop: The Facade of Gold

In my childhood I was fascinated with the Royal Bank Plaza from Toronto (Ontario, Canada), which consists of two office buildings: Royal Bank Plaza South and Royal Bank Plaza North, the first is a skyscraper of 180 meters of height and the second have 112 meters (41 and 26 storeys high each). In those days I do not thought in the business than I would close in this place, and much less I thought that it would end up being owned by Oxford Properties. We’re talking about a building designed by Boris E. Zerafa of the architecture study of WZMH and it was built in 1977.

Without saying that my passion for architecture of today, in part, comes from these spectacular buildings that I saw in my early childhood, the unique structure of metal and glass facades and triangular plants staggered vertically, leave breathless to the thousands of workers that have necessarily to go every day through this nerve centre of the city. The golden glow that send the windows of building… It has created in me a healthy and imperative need of the knowledge.


I was about a year to discover the mystery, my parents denied my demands of knowledge and I had to inquire and undermine information from outside sources to me, then, very poor environment social. I did not know it, but I had been suffering what is referred to as «the gold rush», although in my case, I healed with information. One night I counted more than 14,000 windows that have the two towers, that night the doorman of the building took pity of me and explained me that each glass was coated by a layer of 24 karat gold; this explained, obviously, the golden shine. To the innocent question of how it was possible that nobody steal the gold, the operator said me that this gold is not recoverable due to the technique of manufacture of the crystals and nobody has stealing a single ounce of this building.

The Gold

But the gold was not introduced in the construction of this building for its beauty, or, at least, the gold was not only used by that. The gold is a thermal insulator and reduces the cost of central heating, how is possible? I will clarify.

The gold is a very dense, soft and its colour is bright yellow. Also, it is the precious metal more useful and practical in the trade, because of their intrinsic characteristics, I explain, the gold is found in nature in pure state, which makes if you find it in a mine or a stream you can use it with take away the dirt off. It is a ductile metal (it undergoes in largely without fracture, and you can get surfaces large and with little thickness), it is malleable and, the icing, is one of the less reactive metals chemically, this increases its durability exponentially.


The gold is also an excellent thermal and electrical conductor, how can be insulating and heat conductor at the same time? You can ask, of course, as I did in his day. Well, the response is in its high density (to higher density better thermal and acoustic insulation of a material), this quality, combined with the reflective power of the gold and the ductility of the material make that with a ridiculous thickness is achieved to repel the heat. An example: in the space technology, the gold is used to prevent overheating the interior of a spacecraft when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, never go into outer space without gold. Another example: there are thermal blankets that combine the action of the silver and the gold (one layer in each side) this protects the injured of the possible losses of heat.

Thanks to the thin foil of gold covering the windows of the Royal Bank Plaza, we enjoyed a view of golden and the building has saved millions of dollars in heating.


Present day

In the past year 2010, the Royal Bank Plaza made history by becoming the first Office Tower of the Bank in Canada in obtain the Leed-EB gold through a series of energy saving measures. It has received several awards for this reason as the aforementioned USGBC Leed-EB Gold Certification 2010, the BOMA Building Excellence Certification 2009 or the NAIOP Rex Office Development of the year award 2008. The same architectural firm that created it in 1977 has been the responsible in 2008, to redesign the interaction of this complex with the surrounding area, increasing the importance of the entrances, improving and modernizing the mall and optimizing the areas of leisure and restoration.


I cannot finish this article without mentioning an idea that should be in most of the important buildings, whether they are administrative or if its use is other nature. This idea was carried out by Oxford Properties on September 10, 2012, installing screens in the lobby to display electricity consumption in real time. The tenants were aware at that time of how can save up to 50% of the energy consumption of the offices with their decisions and actions. An example to follow.

St. Valentine, battle of Thermopylae, a building of gold, ideas for the control of electric consumption… Since that you read me, you are wiser, and you know it. Bye bye.

2 comentarios

  1. Hi there,
    Back in highschool I worked as general gopher for a bunch of draftsmen in a humble little office and manufacturing plant in Strathroy, Ontario Canada, called Pittsburgh Plate Glass. After a year of working weekends, I ended up being given some very small drafting projects that summer as I continued to work there, just for the summer. While there I learned that office building plate glass – such as that which is the topic of your article is held onto the building using a unique aluminium framing called ‘curtain wall.’ Turns out this humble little place, Pittsburgh Plate Glass contributed in a large part for the curtain wall and even some of the gold plating of the office plate glass – since it was such an out of the way location the gold could be quietly shipped in with no media attention, and saved on customs and duties once it was formed it could be shipped through the province having already been in country.
    Fast forward to when I was there in the late 80s as a student and they continued to maintain the rubber gaskets of the curtain wall – and I was asked to re-draw one of the old diagrams for one of the small rubber parts in the curtain wall – now it’s likely all done digitally, but at the time such things had to be all done by good old by-hand drafting. I am proud to say that one of the 1000s of tiny little rubber gaskets involved in that plate glass, I was allowed to re-draw and was likely eventually digitized along the way since then. I enjoyed working for PPG, albeit briefly, but it was a great summer work experience. Your article was truly a ‘blast from my past.’ Thanks for your very informative article!

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