It looks like Calgary’s bragging rights of having western Canada’s tallest skyscraper in its metropolitan area will remain intact for at least a few more years. Brookfield Office Properties Inc. announced plans to construct a complex in the city’s downtown area that will include a building designed to dwarf The Bow ─ another Calgary skyscraper that’s currently the loftiest Canadian structure west of Toronto ─ by at least 11 metres.
Dubbed 225 Sixth, and slated for completion as early as 2017, the project will include a 247-metre skyscraper containing 56 storeys alongside a second tower with 42 storeys. The two structures will bookend a 50,000 square-foot, three-storey winter garden glass pavilion with retail venues and an open-air plaza.
“The plaza, at over one-half acre, promises to be a significant addition to the evolving downtown public realm,” said the company in a release issued Dec. 1. “Creating a dramatic arrival experience for those working in and visiting the new office towers, the proposed plaza will see a steady stream of foot traffic, much of it headed to and from the LRT on 7th Avenue SW. Landscaping complements the architecture and augments the function of the plaza which faces south to take advantage of the sun year-round.”
While the project’s pricetag is estimated to be more than one billion dollars, the ecomonic optics indicate the time is ripe for such a development. Calgary’s status as the country’s hottest market for office space is reflected in plummeting vacancies rates of 3.1 per cent, compared with 6.9 at the end of 2011. High-end office space downtown is even harder to find, with vacancy rates at less than a single percentage point. As a result, rent prices have escalated, indicating a demand for business real estate that will be addressed by 225 Sixth, which promises to deliver 2.4 million square feet of office space, roughly half of it in the taller office tower.
Brookfield promises the design of the complex, situated on a site previously occupied by the Calgary Herald, will set the tone for the city’s cosmopolitan status as a progressive metropolitan place that’s also a leading economic driver internationally.
“The contemporary modernist architecture of the towers provides maximum transparency through a clear glass skin,” said Brookfield in its statement. The two monolithic structures will also have a look that tapers slightly inward, before expanding outward at the top. The plaza’s glass exterior will also take advantage of Calgary’s long daylight hours in the summer, providing ample natural light in the public space.
The 225 Sixth complex will also incorporate into its design a number of sustainability features to exceed LEED Gold Core standards. Such features will include energy-efficient lighting and control systems as well as mechanical equipment and storm water retention systems, low-flow washroom fixtures, easy access to public transportation, use of recycled materials, and a green housekeeping program. The pavilion’s public space will also double as a venue for a number of cultural and arts activities.