Best building in the Americas

Manitoba Hydro Place opens

by sharon mchugh 05 October 2009
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    Manitoba Hydro Place, a new corporate headquarters for Canada’s fourth largest energy utility, is poised to become the county’s most sustainable building. Located in downtown Winnipeg, one of the most extreme climates in North America, the 695,000 sq ft tower, which opened yesterday, is earning high praise for its aggressive stance on energy conservation. Expected to operate on one quarter of the energy of a typical office tower, the building stands apart for its extreme climate responsiveness. It was recently named the Best in the Americas by the Council for Tall Buildings and is a contender for the organisation's Best Building in the World prize to be awarded later this month.

    Designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects of Toronto with Smith Carter Architects of Winnipeg, the 23-storey office tower will achieve its energy savings primarily through passive means, relying on the architecture - its materials, orientation and features - to provide much of the building’s heating and cooling. Every element of the amenity rich building has been put to the service of improving energy performance. The building's two towers, which take the form of a Capital A, meet at the top (north) and are splayed open at bottom (south) to capture an abundance of sunlight. Within the splay, is located a series of atria, or winter gardens, which, like lungs, take in the fresh outdoor air and precondition it before delivering it to the workspaces. Each atrium contains a waterfall feature that humidifies or dehumidifies the air, depending on the season. A soaring 377 ft tall “thermal chimney" located at the main entrance, creates an iconic element in the skyline while serving as a key element of the passive ventilation system. A closed loop geothermal system heats and cools water that is piped through the radiant floors to heat and cool the offices. The building is enclosed with a high performance envelope and capped with several green roofs that have accessible terraces.

    Relying on simple, time-tested concepts and advanced technologies, KPMB Architects has created an iconic building for Winnipeg that is a model of environmental leadership and corporate responsibility to be emulated.

    Sharon McHugh
    US Correspondent


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