Manitoba Hydro Place

ARCHITECT Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, Smith Carter Architects and Engineers, Transsolar KlimaEngineering, Prairie Architects Inc.
LOCATION Winnipeg, Manitoba
CATEGORY Office Buildings

Upon first glance, Manitoba Hydro Place, located in downtown Winnipeg, appears to be a deceptively simple Class A glass office tower. In actuality it is one of North America’s most complex energy-efficient large-scale buildings and a model for bioclimatic architecture in an extreme climate. The 700,000-square-foot design harmonizes time-tested sustainable strategies with advanced technologies to harness maximum passive energies. 

Planning began in 2002, a year before Architecture 2030 was founded and three years before Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth (2006) galvanized the world to take responsibility for climate change. Recognizing LEED was not structured to prioritize major energy savings, and to make a visible demonstration of its commitment to energy reduction, Manitoba Hydro set ambitious goals for its new building to achieve 60% above the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB). In addition, it had to provide a healthy work environment for 2,000+ employees, be filled with 100% fresh air, participate in the city’s urban revitalization strategy, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility within the framework of architectural excellence. And it had to do this in an extreme climate where temperatures typically fluctuate from -30°F (-35°C) to +95°F (35°C) over the year. In addition, Winnipeg, once known as the “Chicago of the North,” is notorious for its ailing civic life in the downtown. To achieve these ambitions, the client mandated a formal Integrated Design Process and dedicated two full years to design and development.

One year ago, Manitoba Hydro Place opened in Winnipeg and was immediately named 2009’s “Best Tall Building in the Americas” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Manitoba Hydro Place was also the recipient of the 2010 National Urban Design Honours Award, in addition to being honoured by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), who announced the building as one of its 2010 COTE Top Ten Green Projects. 

Jury Comments

This building is aesthetically pleasing and includes innovative energy-savings technologies. It is also designed to provide a healthy work environment making the office pleasant for those working in the building, and may even contribute to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

This is the most beautiful and environmentally sensitive government office complex ever built in the history of Canada. Imagine a world where all citizens work in such inspired surroundings, while at the same time treading so lightly on our planet. This is a future scenario to which all office buildings should aspire.