December 1, 2006
by Canadian Architect
ARCHITECT Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects/Smith Carter Architects and Engineers/Prairie Architects Inc.
LOCATION Winnipeg, Manitoba
A Model for Cold Climate Design
The new head office for Manitoba Hydro will create one of the most energy-efficient large-scale office towers in the world and establish a model for extreme climate design. Manitoba Hydro is the major supplier of electrical power and distributor of natural gas in Manitoba. Its new office building will be located in downtown Winnipeg, a city situated at the geographic centre of North America and the coldest large city in the world. Temperatures vary 70 degrees over a year, dropping to -50C with windchill factor, to +35C during summer months. It also experiences year-round southerly winds and an abundance of sunshine throughout the year.
The new head offices will have a significant impact on Winnipeg’s urban revitalization strategy by consolidating in one downtown location 1,800 employees who are currently dispersed among 12 leased offices in the suburbs and downtown. Consolidating this workforce in a 22-storey office tower will also have a significant impact on the company’s work culture and productivity. To that end, the project prioritizes a healthy, connected, supportive workplace.
60% Energy Savings, 100% Fresh Air, Maximum Daylight
The design of the 690,000-square-foot office tower is targetting a 60%-plus reduction in energy consumption. The new building will save the corporation $15 million in annual operating costs. Savings will be realized through enhanced energy efficiencies, productivity improvements, co-location of employees and other design features. Manitoba Hydro also recognizes that the quality of indoor air and natural light is critical to worker productivity. Offices wll have 100% fresh outdoor air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and a fully glazed building envelope with unobstructed floorplates to ensure maximum exposure to natural daylight.
Maximum Solar and Wind Exposure
The building occupies a full city block, and its form and massing was generated by solar orientation. Two towers converge at the north and splay open to the south to capture maximum sunlight. North and south stacked atria fuse the masses together. The south atria act as solar collectors and the “lungs” of the building, drawing in fresh air. A solar chimney, a tall thin slab at the main entrance on the north end of the building, draws fresh air through the building from the south atria. At street level, wind effects are tamed by the podium design supplemented by large entrance canopies. Inside, a three-storey interior galleria along the solar axis of the building connects the north and south entrances. Structural and glazing systems emphasize lightness and transparency to mitigate the overall mass and scale of the building and to maximize daylight for the reduction of artificial lighting systems.
A Highrise Community
The project will accommodate some 2,000 workstations in a 22-storey high-rise office building. The plan organization creates a symbiotic relationship between the building’s respiratory system (north and south atria) and the organizing principle of vertical neighborhoods to encourage communication, provide clear orientation, and build community in the high-rise tower. The typical floorplate of 20,000 net square feet is divided into smaller precincts organized around a series of stacked six-storey atria. The atria connect to office floors, and stairs encourage vertical circulation to maximize face-to-face communication and collaboration between people and departments.
Scale, Energy, Utility
The building’s scale and expression metaphorically draw on man-made and natural power sources as well as associations with Canada’s North: hydropower dams, boreal forests, and vast expanses of landscape. References are embedded in the materiality (stone, glass, concrete) and in the integration of large-scale water features and art installations. Every space, detail and material has been developed to express Manitoba Hydro’s commitment to responsible energy consumption, energy reduction goals, and sustainable design practices. Beyond form, site specificity, and internal performance, the new Manitoba Hydro corporate headquarters is about creating spaces and a site that generates positive synergies between corporate culture, the work place, and the public life of the city.
Integrated Design Process (IDP)
To ensure that all of the client’s project goals–meeting Manitoba Hydro’s current and future business needs, achieving a 60% reduction in energy consumption, adopting sustainable design methods, creating signature architecture and a positive impact on downtown, and proving a sound financial investment–were embodied in the design in a balanced way, the client mandated use of the C-2000 Integrated Design Process (IDP). A project charter was developed to identify a common understanding for the overall intent and principles of the project, and formed the basis for the design. The project was initiated with a series of facilitated workshops and design charettes which involved the participation of the client, architects and specialist consultants. Fifteeen schemes were generated, with three selected and tested. The design process took place over one year, and the focus remained on integrating all project objectives throughout. The success of the process to date is due to the client, Manitoba Hydro, who has shown strong leadership, a commitment to excellence and quality, and a willingness to invest both time and expertise in terms of developing the project mandate and forming a truly integrated, high-performing team of specialists from each field.
Berke: I found this to be an elegant expression of sustainable architecture in a large building. I very much appreciated the attention paid to spaces to be shared by the occupants, and was also appreciative of the marriage of good design and big business. It is exactly companies like Manitoba Hydro that should be setting the example of environmentally responsible construction and the example of hiring excellent architects and encouraging them to do good work. It is a big, bold and confident project.
Sweetapple: A very sophisticated project in terms of building performance that seems to suggest a change in Canadian architectural “climate.” It is a building with an expensive capital cost yielding low operational and environmental cost, an attitude that Europeans have adopted fully. It is inspiring to see a major public building headed in such a positive direction, and the client’s role is undoubtedly highly instrumental in supporting this initiative. Quality research in building envelope, orientation, massing and materials were well illustrated in this submission.
Teeple: This is a thoroughly studied and well researched design–a sincere attempt to participate in the evolution of the large-scale office building in every respect–environmentally, urbanistically, socially and formally. This high level of investigation has led to the elimination, in large part, of arbitrariness in its form-making. The building results rather from the engagement in these issues and from a design process in which these issues and the concerns of the client interact in a creative and productive manner.
Manitoba Hydro Client Team Tom Gouldsborough, Doug McKay, Tom Akerstream, Colleen Johnson, Kevin Leung, Julie Gervino, Leah Rensfelt, Susan Aird, Darren Sachvie, Carmen Hebert, Roberta Radons
Design Architect Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg
IDP Design Charrette Team Bruce Kuwabara, Luigi LaRocca, John Peterson, Javier Uribe, Taymoore Balbaa, Steven Casey, Chu Dongzhu, Andrew Dyke, Omar Gandhi, Eric Ho, Steven Kopp, Norm Li
KPMB Project Tea
m Bruce Kuwabara, Luigi LaRocca, John Peterson, Kael Opie, Lucy Timbers, Glenn MacMullin, Ramon Janer, Javier Uribe, Taymoore Balbaa, Steven Casey, Clementine Chang, Chu Dongzhu, Virginia Dos Reis, Omar Gandhi, Jill Greaves, Bettina Herz, Eric Ho, Tanya Keigan, Steven Kopp, John Lee, Norm Li, Eric Johnson, Andrea Macaroun, Rob Micacchi, Lauren Poon, Matt Storus, Richard Unterthiner, Dustin Valen, Francesco Valente-Gorjup, Marnie Williams, William Wilmotte, Paulo Zasso
Architect of Record Smith Carter Architects & Engineers: Jim Yamashita, Rick Linley, Glen Klym, Al Coppinger, John Crocker, Colin Reed, Ron Pidwerbesky, Kirk McLean, Matt Baker, Neil Hulme, Phil Harmes, Stephane Chappellaz, Richard Chan, Dallas Ptosnick, Brad Cove, Stephen Londrey, Ron Martin, Daryl Hnylycia, Sheila Reenders, Lynne Richardson
Energy-Climate Engineers Transsolar: Thomas Auer, Alex Knirsch, Helmut Meyer, Nicole Kuhnert
Advocate Architect Prairie Architects Inc.: Dudley Thompson, Crystal Bornais, Teresa da Costa Neubauer, Dennis Kwan
Construction Manager PCL Constructors Canada
Quantity Surveyor Hanscomb
Structural Halcrow Yolles, Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd.
Mechanical & Electrical Earth Tech Canada Inc.
Lighting Earth Tech Canada Inc., Pivotal Lighting Design
Landscape Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram
Life Safety Leber Rubes
Building Envelope Brook Van Dalen & Associates
Vertical Transportation Soberman Engineering
Microclimate RWDI Inc.
Water Feature Consultant Dan Euser WaterArchitecture inc.
Traffic-Access-Parking ND Lea Engineers & Planners
Geotechnical Engineer Hydrogeolist, UMA Engineering, Dyregrov Consultants
Municipal & Site Services Wardrop Engineering
Images Produced in Revit, Sketch-up, 3d Studio Viz and 3d Studio Max; Daylight and South Atrium Model built by Richard Unterthiner; Model Photography by Tom Arban, Robert Hill and John Peterson
Award Submission Graphic Design by Roland Ulfig, Art Direction by John Peterson, Editorial Direction by Amanda Sebris
Area 690,000 ft2
Budget $258 M
Completion late 2007
Drawing of the Manitoba Hydro Building reveals the north and east faades, and the contextual scale of the surrounding neighbourhood; a sampling of 12 potential schemes out of the 15 that were generated through a series of design charrettes as part of the C-2000 Integrated Design Process.
Rendering of the Manitoba Hydro building reveals how the two glazed tower forms united by the central atrium splay towards the south to take advantage of maximum natural daylight.
The building is most interesting formally at the north elevation through the highly articulated convergence and expression of its various components.
Illustration offers some understanding of how the building’s components and spaces are arranged on a typical floorplate
The differences in airflow between winter and summer operation are explained in this comparative illustration.
The differences in airflow between winter and summer operation are explained in this comparative illustration.
The glass tower is grounded by the solidity of a podium that addresses the street with an appropriate scale and sense of mass
Rendering of the landscaping and outdoor public space proposed in the project design, critical to this important downtown site
Aerial photograph of the site reveals the Manitoba Hydro building inserting itself in the relatively dense downtown fabric of Winnipeg near the juncture of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.