OpenAire is sometimes called upon to add retractable roofing systems to historic buildings, thereby blending cutting-edge modern engineering with beautiful, vintage architecture. This is a delicate balancing act that involves the preservation of the existing building while augmenting it both aesthetically and functionally. We are proud to have successfully managed this balance on several occasions. Here are three of our success stories.

1. Restoration Hardware; RH Gallery at Three Arts Club of Chicago

Restoration Hardware Chicago Three Arts Club Skylight

Restoration Hardware Chicago Three Arts Club Skylight

Luxurious, California based home decor furnishing company Restoration Hardware, wanted to develop a new styleof retail which would be an event space, a gallery, a cafe and an interior design studio and lifestyle center. The venue, called RH Gallery, is located inside the historic Three Arts Club, built in 1912, near Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago. OpenAire installed a 2,000-square-foot pyramid-shaped glass skylight on the second floor, in the middle of the four story U-shaped building. The skylight is actually set within the three sided tower, and is surrounded by custom OpenAire grates for water run off. While the skylight is actually all aluminum it is detailed to look like a historic steel structure, yet has the modern technology of being waterproof, UV protected and thermally broken so the temperature of the atrium is perfect year round. The skylight includes motorized operable side windows that again look like antique swing windows. Ensuring every detail aligns with the owner's vision. The final result treated the existing structure with the due reverence it deserved while adding new elements of harmony, luxury, and beauty.

2. Boston Pizza

Boston Pizza Toronto Retractable Roof

Boston Pizza Toronto Retractable Roof Shown Closed

Canada’s largest, west coast based, suburban casual dining restaurant chain chose a historic building in downtown Toronto as the basis for a second prototype for their new Urban Boston Pizza. These new locations are urban, hip sports bars geared to attracting younger city dwellers. As the second of this type of restaurant in Toronto they chose a location near the downton Ryerson University campus. The new restaurant is a second story facility so the renovation included adding an additional top floor with a customized 1,300-square-foot retractable skylight. Without the traditional parking lot patios of their suburban locations the chain wanted an innovative solution for accessing the outdoors when the weather is good. This enclosure creates an open, outdoor-style atmosphere for patrons to enjoy at any time of the year. The spectacular structure helped to bring a fresh, modern feel to the historic neighborhood and, along with Boston Pizza’s premium menu choices, still draws in the crowds.

3. Barcelona Tavern

Barcelona Tavern YYZ Toronto Retractable Roof

Barcelona Tavern YYZ Retractable Roof Shown Open

Another west coast based restaurant, Barcelona Tavern, opened their first Toronto is based in the heart of Liberty Village. It stands right alongside West Elm, which itself is housed in a historic building. The tavern’s retractable transparent enclosure is anchored on one of West Elm’s vintage red brick walls, placing contemporary and historic right next to each other in a pleasing and acclaimed juxtaposition. 



OpenAire specializes in the design and construction of skylights for shopping malls and other retail facilities, as well as retractable roofs for restaurants, sports clubs, and hotels. We have designed and built custom-designed skylights and retractable roofs for several high profile retail projects in North America and abroad. These include Restoration Hardware in Chicago, IL, Old Quebec Street in Guelph, Ontario, and the Sharjah Mall in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. 

Contact us for more information on skylights for retail centers and other applications.

fixed vs retractable skylights

Fixed vs Retractable Skylights

A skylight, whether operable or not, is a great way to completely change the aesthetic of any interior. Choosing to install a skylight in your restaurant can make the world of difference to any space regardless of location. It will make the restaurant brighter lighter and more appealing while being weather resistant. Most people are familiar with skylights. Few know, however, that there are lots of different types, shapes, and sizes to choose from. What people may not realize is a skylight is no longer limited to a small rectangle or square… a skylight may be your entire roof!

When choosing a skylight, you have a choice between fixed vs retractable skylights.  Here is a handy guide to compare retractable skylights and fixed skylights, and we look at each skylight's benefits in order for you to make the ideal choice for your restaurant.

Fixed Skylights

A fixed skylight brings the light into any room! This is the better known and more traditional option and often comes in a variety of fixed sizes. They deliver light and ambiance to any restaurant. A skylight is a fixed window set onto the roof. They may incorporate venting options, but the window itself does not open.

There are some options for different types of skylights and optional features. You may have some choice for the quality of glass or molded plastic, although that depends on the manufacturer, and all come in a variety of materials and colours for trim. Glass for these skylights is typically tempered and laminated in single, double or triple-pane glass units, and in some cases, with a variety of reflective coating, and the like.

What Are the Benefits of Fixed Skylights?

Custom Retractable Skylights

If you are renovating, building new or simply remodelling, you might want to consider adding a custom retractable skylight to add more light to your rooms and to allow for increased ventilation and fresh air. A retractable skylight can be custom designed to suit your space, so you are not limited by size and spans and materials. A retractable skylight has all the benefits of a fixed skylight with more… it adds ventilation, lighting, and can be any size! The concealed motors, and thermally efficient glazing result in a refined operation and sophisticated aesthetic that opens at the push of a button and closes just as quickly.

What Are the Benefits of Retractable Skylights?

Choosing a Retractable or Fixed Skylight for Your Restaurant

Other Advantages of Choosing Skylights for Restaurants


Crooked Cue

Choosing the Right Skylight Supplier for Your Restaurant

When choosing a skylight manufacturer and supplier, it is vital to choose one who does not compromise on quality, design, materials or structural integrity and that adheres strictly to the requirements set out by the international building code. Skylight manufacturing and installation is complicated as many factors play a part in choosing and installing the right skylight for your space. Whether your restaurant is a new building or a renovation or addition; working with a team of architects, engineers and fabricators from the start of you project ensures a seamless solution through opening and will allow you to make sure your project is on time and on budget.

One-size-fits-all simply is not appropriate for everyone, especially when it comes  to unique locations, leased spaces, historic buildings, or simply busy commercial centers. A good skylight supplier will work closely with your architects, contractors, and builders as well as restaurant owners and operators, to ensure the project meets the needs, budget and use of the space. There are a multitude of fun ideas available that you can incorporate, and, a really great skylight supplier will not only have the ideas but will also suggest alternative solutions.

OpenAire Retractable and Fixed Skylights for Restaurants

OpenAire has been designing and manufacturing beautiful, high-quality retractable roof skylights for over 30 years. We can help you compare the benefits of fixed vs retractable skylights.

Why Choose OpenAire?

OpenAire’s operable large-span retractable skylights or our large span custom fixed skylights function faithfully in applications ranging from all-season restaurant patios to large-scale waterparks and aquatic centers, plus health clubs, shopping centers, community centers, private residences, hotels, and many more. Our unique, elegantly designed skylight solutions bring the sky into any room, delivering light and creating a unique ambiance. These works of art elevate any space, whether residential or commercial, creating visually stunning windows to the sky.

What we offer that makes us unique is the ability to span openings larger than most suppliers in the industry and to provide either both the supporting sub structure and skylight or just the skylight. We are a one-stop shop for skylights. OpenAire works with our clients to make sure they get the perfect skylight to compliment their space, while guaranteeing, with our superior warranty, that all skylights are professionally designed, manufactured, fabricated, shipped and installed. Our excellent warranty and ongoing service support and record speaks for itself. Our skylights and working with OpenAire is a worry free proposition.

Whether you are choosing a fixed vs retractable skylight, whether it is 20 ft (6 meters) wide or 200 ft (61 meters) wide, whether it is a new restaurant or whether you are renovating your existing space, our expert team is here to help. Book a consultation with us today!

As the decisive MLB playoff game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers came near on Wednesday, October 14, Jays fans everywhere were upset to learn that their iconic home stadium the Rogers Centre would be keeping its retractable dome closed during the game. Baseball fans in Toronto always look forward to seeing their team play under the open skies offered by the Centre's fully-retractable dome, but on the day of Game 5 of the American League Division Series, engineers were concerned that the evening's forecasted 55.4ºF (13ºC) temperatures might cause the aging dome machinery to seize up, leaving fans and players unprotected from a possible rain storm. Twitter was soon flooded with upset fans asking for the dome to be opened, including Toronto City Councillor Norm Kelly. All of these problems could have been avoided using a better retractable roof design.

At OpenAire, our design and engineering teams are industry leaders in customized retractable roof solutions. We have built fully retractable, energy efficient enclosures in every climate possible, from arid deserts to the snowy subarctic. Our precision-manufactured roof components and motors don't just function at 55.4ºF (13ºC), they have been built to retract flawlessly at just above freezing 38ºF (3ºC) and up at venues such as Jay Peak Resort in Vermont. OpenAire is also no stranger to retractable domes; in fact, we set the record for the largest free-standing retractable aluminum dome in the world when we designed the enclosure for Aqua Sferra Water Park in Ukraine. Measuring 86 feet high and 278 feet in diameter, this breathtaking structure allows the water park inside to stay open in any weather, closing at the touch of a button whenever needed.

The Rogers Centre's dome has suffered from mechanical problems for several years now. In 2012, a sudden rain shower left thousands of baseball fans soaked and the infield a muddy mess as the dome struggled to close for almost 45 minutes. OpenAire's retractable roofs are built to close quickly, quietly and reliably, usually in just a few minutes, letting the activity inside continue uninterrupted. Even at Aqua Sferra, one of our biggest designs, the roof panels have always closed in 10 minutes or less. We promise this kind of reliability to all our clients with a worry-free five-year warranty on every installation. With the quality design of a lightweight, energy-efficient OpenAire retractable roof or dome, sports fans never have to shout for venue owners to #OpenTheDome.


Well its a pretty busy time at OpenAire these days, we have several new residential projects underway throughout Canada and the USA. We have a number of new aquatic and waterpark facilities across the US that we are thrilled to be working on and our newest cruise ship, the Anthem of the Seas has just landed in the UK to start its European touring! Above are a few photos of some of our projects in various states of completion.

We couldn't be happier with our sales & admin teams, designers, project managers and our internal and external builders & installers who bring these buildings to life.

Its a great time to bring in the fresh air to restaurants, cruise ships, aquatic facilities, homes and waterparks around the globe! Follow us on Instagram to see where we are today! @openaire

First, some elementary physics: heat moves. Nature has it that the warm naturally draws towards the cool and the hot to the cold—like yin to yang, male to female; except with nature, there are no exceptions, only laws. The laws of nature often make life difficult, but we can work with and around those laws with a little ingenuity. Sometimes that means using the right materials. At other times, that means clever engineering.

When hot meets cold, moisture condenses to corrode and weaken materials. Condensation is a problem nature provides, that builders and architects struggle to solve. Traditionally, as a protective measure for buildings they installed thermally broken framing. A thermal break placed in an assembly reduces or prevents the flow of thermal energy between conductive materials, such as insulation.

With skylights and retractable roof enclosures, it’s possible to create an entire thermally broken system. We can go that extra mile, fitting special Styrofoam between aluminum and polycarbonate to protect the entire structure of installations. A thermally broken system translates into no transfer of cold/heat into our buildings; precise temperature control; no moisture on the structures and no condensation; protection from frost in winter, fog prevention and protection from corrosion.

The power and overwhelming force of Mother Nature’s laws can never be matched, though slowly but surely, we can engineer her to have softer hands and a lighter touch.