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Manitoba Hydro Place - A model for extreme climate responsive design - Opening
September 29, 2009
Manitoba Hydro Place - A model for extreme climate responsive design 
KPMB/Smith Carter/Transsolar Winnipeg Project Winner of 'Best Tall

'Building in the Americas'

TORONTO, Sept. 30 /CNW/ - Manitoba Hydro Place, the iconic new $278 million CAD headquarters of the fourth largest energy utility in Canada, officially opened its doors on 360 Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg yesterday. The 695,250 ft (64,590 sq.m), 22-storey office tower with its signature 'Capital A' form and LEED Platinum target was designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (Toronto) with Smith Carter Architects (Winnipeg) and climate engineers Transsolar (Stuttgart). As the first of the next generation of sustainable design, Manitoba Hydro Place offers a model for extreme climate responsive design drawing on local passive energy sources to achieve 65%+ energy savings, while providing 100% fresh air, the highest quality of human comfort.

Recently, the design also has gained world attention with the prestigious "Best Tall Building in the Americas Award" granted by the CTBUH, the world's leading body dedicated to the field of tall buildings and urban habitat. In October, the project will be one of four contenders for the "Best in the World" prize competing against international projects in London, Dubai and Beijing.

"Manitoba Hydro's vision to consolidate 2,000 employees from 15 different offices in the suburbs into one location in downtown Winnipeg created a real opportunity to give back to the community and spearhead the revitalization of Winnipeg's downtown," explains Tom Gouldsborough, Division Manager of Corporate Services and Project Manager for Manitoba Hydro. "Since opening 50% of Manitoba Hydro staff has converted to public transit after a lifetime of driving to work."

Manitoba Hydro set ambitious goals for a supportive workplace, urban regeneration, and signature architecture, inclusive of 60%(*) less than Canada's Model National Energy Code for Buildings in an extreme climate that fluctuates from -35 degrees C in the winter to +35 degrees C in the summer. To meet these, Manitoba Hydro mandated a formal Integrated Design Process developed by National Resources Canada. An international search was held for the design architect with eight finalists from whom KPMB was selected, followed by the selection of Smith Carter Architects + Engineers as executive architects and Transsolar as climate engineers to form the core IDP Team.

"Paradoxically, a glass tower in the extreme weather proved to be the most energy efficient. When it is extremely cold it is also very sunny in Winnipeg." explains KPMB's design partner Bruce Kuwabara. "We went through 15 options and tested three to determine which solution would harness the most solar and wind energies and contribute to the public life of the city. The 'Capital A' is really two towers that sit on a street-scaled podium, sited at a 45 degree angle to create a new outdoor public park."

The architects drew inspiration from natural and man-made power sources in Canada's North - hydro-powered dams, boreal forests, and vast expanses of sky and land to reinforce Manitoba Hydro's identity in the city. One of the distinguishing features of the design is the towering 115 metre high Solar Chimney clad in aluminum panels in bronze and shades of blue, applied in a random pattern to evoke air and water, Hydro's primary power source. The mass, scale and materiality -primarily exposed concrete, stone, glass, metal and accents of wood - resonates a bold and enduring quality.

"The building is like a living organism," says Thomas Auer of Transsolar, a German building energy design consultancy. "The radiant system fits with the geothermal system, the façade fits with the ventilation, and the shape of the building fits with the solar access. The systems and the building operations are completely integral to the physical structure and mechanical systems of the building."

Climate-responsive highlights include a high performance building envelope and the province's largest geothermal system (280 boreholes, 125 metres deep). The three south facing six-storey high 'wintergardens' act as the 'lungs' of the building. Each one features a spectacular 24 metre tall 'waterfall' that humidifies or dehumidifies air as it enters the building. A series of green roofs on the podium also feature sweet grass, a sacred plant of the Aboriginal people.

"The energy savings and sustainable design are ultimately an investment in Manitoba Hydro's greatest asset - its staff." reports Tom Akerstream, Manager of Facilities and energy advisor to the project. "Employees are delighted with their daylight-filled offices and ability to control their personal environment. A few individuals who intended to retire have decided to stay on!"

"As one of three major projects in Winnipeg's urban renewal vision, and the first to be built, Manitoba Hydro is already having a major impact. Restaurants are reporting an exponential increase in revenues and the building is attracting visitors from all over Canada and the United States," said Scott Stirton, CEO of Smith Carter Architects + Engineers.

(*) As of September 2009, the Building is achieving 65% energy savings, exceeding the original goal of a 60% reduction of energy consumption below MNECB

New Consortium Announcement

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (Toronto), Smith Carter Architects (Winnipeg) and Transsolar (Stuttgart) are pleased to announce the formation of a new Integrated Design Consortium to apply principles of the Integrated Design Process to produce climate controlled, sustainable design for the ultimate benefit the health of its users and to contribute to the vibrancy of urban life. A dedicated website to document the full IDP team and process and track the performance of the Manitoba Hydro Place project will be launched on at the end of October 2009.

NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at Images are free to accredited members of the media.

To view the fact sheet, please download the pdf attachment below.

For further information and/or visuals, please contact:

KPMB Architects
Amanda Sebris
416.977.5104 ext 291 or

Smith Carter Architects and Engineers
Sheila Merrick
204.477.1260 ext. 257
Gill Giles
204.477.1260 ext. 270

Transsolar Climate Engineers
Thomas Auer


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