Most hockey arenas have no windows to let the sun get through. Slivers of sunlight can play havoc with the ice, causing soft patches and glare. So most arenas are closed-in and dingy. When the Cape Breton town of Port Hawkesbury decided three years ago to replace its old condemned hockey rink with a combined arena and civic center, it wanted the new complex to be a sustainable "green" building — energy efficient, welcoming, airy and bright. This posed a challenge for Bob Ojolick, the lead architect on the project. Brightening up the civic center would be relatively easy, but bringing that same appeal to a 1,000-seat arena would prove tricky without compromising ice quality and energy efficiency.
Ojolick consulted with Douglas Milburn, founder and president of Advanced Glazings Ltd. in Sydney, N.S. Milburn is an expert in transparent insulation, having spent the early 1990s doing his Ph.D. on the topic at the University of Waterloo.
During that time Milburn engineered a transparent honeycomb-structured glaze for glass that acts as an insulator for windows and has the ability to diffuse direct sunlight. After graduation he founded Advanced Glazings, and since then his insulating glaze product, called Solera, has become an architect's dream.