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Manitoba Hydro Place

By: KPMB ARCHITECTS INC.

 

L-R: north-west elevation with street-scaled podium; north atrium with green.

 

Manitoba Hydro, the primary energy utility in the province of Manitoba, set ambitious goals for its new headquarters, including energy efficiency, urban revitalization, and a supportive workplace. The 700,000 square foot, 22-story office tower occupies a full block in the center of Winnipeg, a city that is well known for its extreme climate and a downtown in recovery from severe economic downturn in the late 20th century.

 

The site was selected for its proximity to the city’s transit system and a network of raised walkways that connects buildings in the downtown core. The form and massing directly respond to the climate, while the architecture works to revive the city’s former ‘Chicago-scale’ urban spirit. The relocation of 2,000 employees from 15 suburban offices to the downtown also signifies the corporation’s shift to a collaborative culture and a commitment to provide the community with a signature architectural image.

 

The design also visibly manifests Manitoba Hydro’s commitment to environmentally responsible practices, achieving an unprecedented 64.9% energy savings by harnessing maximum passive solar, wind, and geothermal energy. To achieve the seamless integration of design and performance goals, Manitoba Hydro committed to following a formal integrated design process (IDP).Typically occupied by 2,150 people, 45 hours per person per week.

Manitoba Hydro Place on the Winnipeg skyline.

 

Manitoba Hydro Place introduces the next generation of sustainable, energy-efficient architecture developed under a formal Integrated Design Process. The design fuses time-tested principles such as massing, orientation, and exposed thermal mass with immediate digital analysis and computerized building management systems to create a climate-responsive design that relies on passive energy while delivering design excellence and, most importantly, fostering the wellbeing of employees.Every part of the building relates to the whole. The signature capital ‘A’ form comprises twin 18-story office towers set on a 3-storey, street-scaled podium.

 

The podium, bisected by the Public Galleria and clad in masonry to connect to the city’s historic fabric, creates a sheltered route through the full city block. The towers converge at the building’s north end to minimize north-facing surface area. To maximize solar and wind exposure, the towers splay open to the south, where they are clad in low-iron glazing to minimize the mass of the building in the urban context. The solar chimney is both essential to the passive ventilation strategy and for presenting the building as a new urban icon. The south-facing winter gardens feature 24-meter-tall waterfalls that humidify or dehumidify (depending on the season) incoming air and animate the space as kinetic sculpture.

L-R: Animated street view on Graham Avenue. Aerial view of downtown Winnepeg.

 

The site was specifically selected to maximize energy efficiency, sustainable technologies, public transport availability, and urbanization. Two significant public spaces were created to enrich the downtown: an outdoor park in the south portion of the site and a publicly accessible, three-story-high Public Galleria that runs the full length of the podium base to connect the north and south entrances and provide a new interior, barrier-free gathering space that can accommodate over 1,000 occupants for concerts, farmer’s and Christmas markets, and special events.

The building’s plan organizes vertical neighborhoods around north and south atria to create a sense of community in the high-rise format. Atria feature connecting stairs that also act as spectacular viewing platforms to the city and horizon. Employees report loving their new work space and collaborative environment, and some individuals who intended to retire have chosen to extend their employment.

With neither daycare nor a staff cafeteria, employees are encouraged to patronize city restaurants and services, contributing to a steady strengthening of the downtown economy. Fifteen hundred free parking spots were written out of the design as employees embraced public transit incentives. Over 2,500 visitors have toured the building and pedestrian counts are up in the downtown.

Metrics:

Percentage of building population traveling to site by public transit, carpool, bicycle, or foot: 65% by transit, 5% by bike/foot, 3 % for carpool

Percentage of building population using transit options other than single occupancy vehicle: 65%

Number of parking spaces (occupants & visitors): 151 spaces for 2100 occupants/visitors

  

 

Manitoba Hydro Place occupies a previously underutilized site, formerly occupied by several vacant buildings. The vacant buildings were carefully deconstructed, with 95% of the components either recycled or reused. For example, old-growth Douglas fir beams were milled and reused in the new building for soffits and benches. The site had been designated a brownfield, so soil remediation was required to remove patches of hydrocarbon contaminants.

The two towers of the building sit on a street-scaled podium. Structural and glazing systems emphasize lightness and transparency to reduce the impact of the mass on the surrounding neighborhood. Large-scale entrance canopies protect against prevailing winds and provide shelter for pedestrians.

Green roofs cover the podium roof, providing a dramatic increase in landscaping compared to the hard-surface parking lots and tar roofs of the original site. All green roofs employ native plant species, irrigated by rainfall or, during drought conditions, by condensate collected from the building’s mechanical equipment. All plant species incorporated into the green roof are native to the region, and one of the green roofs is dedicated to the First Nations and was planted with sweetgrass in a traditional ceremony. An increased number of street trees and a grove at the site’s south park help create shade conditions at grade.

 

 

  

Site and climate analysis identified Winnipeg’s unusual abundance of sunshine and dominant gusting south winds as opportunities to harness passive solar and wind energies. The team generated 15 massing options and tested three for optimal performance. The Capital A option provided maximum passive solar gains in winter and natural ventilation in the shoulder and summer seasons. Climate-responsive features include a high-performance building envelope and a massive geothermal system with 280 boreholes, each 125 meters deep). Three south-facing, six-story “winter gardens” act as lungs, with 24-meter waterfalls that humidify/dehumidify air entering the building. The concrete structure creates thermal mass to moderate extreme temperature swings. The advanced facade system ensures 100% fresh air and maximum daylight. Automated louvers and windows open and close in reaction to light and temperature changes, making the bioclimatic design visible to the city. A radiant slab between the double facades maintains minimum temperatures in winter and heat exchange with the geothermal field in summer. In the winter, the solar chimney draws exhaust air down to heat the parkade and pre-heat incoming cold air via the south atria. During warmer seasons, the solar chimney exhausts stale air from the building.

 

 

Beyond energy conservation objectives, the goals to provide 100% fresh air and maximum daylight reflect the owner’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of its greatest asset—its employees. Narrow, 11-meter-wide floor plates ensure access to views and natural light. East and west tower facades are double-glazed with motorized windows on the exterior and single-glazed with manually operable, hopper-style windows on the interior. Large-format automated louvers within the double façade open and close throughout the day to minimize solar gain and glare. Louver blades at the top act as a light shelf, bouncing additional light onto the white ceiling. 

Direct/indirect T5 HO fixtures are dimmable, equipped with daylighting and occupancy sensors, and are individually adjustable from the central building management system, allowing daylight harvesting for maximum efficiency and flexibility. Slightly lower overhead lighting levels reduce potential glare, and individual LED task lights at each workstation focus light where it is required most: on the work surface. During shoulder seasons, windows open and supply air is drawn in passively by the solar chimney. Low-pressure, under-floor displacement air delivery allows for individual environmental control at each work station.

Percent of building area that is day-lit: 85%

Percent of building that can be ventilated or cooled with operable windows:  100%

 

 

 North atrium with green roof.

 

The roofs of the podium feature deep-soil intensive green roofs and create accessible, lushly landscaped terraces as an outdoor amenity for employees, while also reducing stormwater runoff and providing additional thermal insulation. Excess rainwater is held within the green roof tray system until the planting medium is ready to absorb it. Hydro Place employs an innovative approach to green roof irrigation. Excess condensate generated by the building’s fan coil units during the hot summer months is directed to large cisterns located in the building’s parking garage. When conditions warrant, this reclaimed water is pumped back up to the green roof and redistributed via an efficient drip irrigation system. Waterless urinals and low-flow toilets and sinks are used throughout the building.

Precipitation managed on site:100% of precipitation that lands on podium/tower is directed to irrigation tank

Total water used indoors: 8687952 l/yr

Total water used outdoors: Natural precipitation however during low precipitation irrigation is from the condensate from the fan coils (as the system is hands off we haven’t measured the amount required)

Percent of total water from reclaimed sources: 100% of water used outdoors

Percent wastewater reused on-site: 0%

Calculated annual potable water use: 134 l/m²a

 

 

The design aligns with Manitoba Hydro’s policies of energy-use reduction and clean power sources. It successfully establishes an exemplar of climate-responsive, energy-efficient design for large buildings in extreme climates. Since the first occupants moved into the building in December 2009, the building has exceeded the original 60% energy savings goal and is now targeting 64.9% energy savings. This is in large part due to the integrated design process, which ensured the rigorous integration of systems and operations, including radiant heating and cooling delivered through an exposed concrete thermal mass. The large geothermal field, high-efficiency condensing boilers, and efficient heating and cooling systems ensure that supply and exchange is utilized. A sophisticated building management system monitors internal and external environments to optimize lighting, solar shading, and heating and cooling loads while taking advantage of passive energy sources. User control of lighting in the offices, managed through desktop computers, is projected to save an additional 10%–15% in electrical lighting loads. As a crown utility and the main supplier of electrical energy in the province, Manitoba Hydro’s clean energy, hydro, and wind electric sources provide carbon-neutral power to the building.

 

 

 

L-R: Main atrium circulation.  Fascade louvers.

 

The two towers that comprise the ‘Capital A’ were conceived as a modern interpretation of the ubiquitous 19th-century urban loft building. Each floor provides consistent large-span column free spaces, expansive glazing, and is characterized by a robust exposed structure to provide the flexibility of potential reconfiguring for new occupants well into the future.

Raised floor systems facilitate the inevitable office churn and minimize the time and cost of retrofits. All air distribution, power, plumbing, voice, and data are distributed through the raised floor system, easily accessed by peeling away the carpet tile and lifting the concrete floor tiles.

The building facades are organized around a typical five-foot planning module, allowing for a multitude of uses and potential wall configurations. Manually operable windows punctuate the exterior façade at 10 feet on center, ensuring that all spaces have access to individually controlled natural ventilation.

The Public Galleria at the ground floor creates a grand public space that links the crown corporation to the life of the downtown and in turn establishes a popular, public destination for informal gathering and a range of formal and festive events through all seasons.

 

 

 

 

The two towers that comprise the ‘Capital A’ were conceived as a modern interpretation of the ubiquitous 19th-century urban loft building. Each floor provides consistent large-span column free spaces, expansive glazing, and is characterized by a robust exposed structure to provide the flexibility of potential reconfiguring for new occupants well into the future.

Raised floor systems facilitate the inevitable office churn and minimize the time and cost of retrofits. All air distribution, power, plumbing, voice, and data are distributed through the raised floor system, easily accessed by peeling away the carpet tile and lifting the concrete floor tiles.

The building facades are organized around a typical five-foot planning module, allowing for a multitude of uses and potential wall configurations. Manually operable windows punctuate the exterior façade at 10 feet on center, ensuring that all spaces have access to individually controlled natural ventilation.

The Public Galleria at the ground floor creates a grand public space that links the crown corporation to the life of the downtown and in turn establishes a popular, public destination for informal gathering and a range of formal and festive events through all seasons.

 

Integrated design process - design charrette at KPMB Architects offices.

 

The project used an integrated design proces (IDP), outlined by the Canadian Government’s National Research Council as IDP-2000, to design and develop ideas. Creating 15 initial schemes, then narrowing these to three for further development, the team used the goals of specified energy targets and urban renewal gestures as measures for the success of each design. Ongoing charrettes after the final project selection coalesced the preliminary strategies into real systems. The highly integrated nature of some of the elements, such as atrium water features and the buildings humidification/de-humidification facilities, are a direct outcome of these charrettes. By merging age-old and proven techniques with metered and controlled building components, energy savings potential and design quality were met and exceeded throughout the building. Further, the commissioning process involved key consultants maintaining a presence through monthly meetings and a distance-monitoring program with the building management system. All visible systems were scrutinized, tested, modified, and refined by every specialist on the team (including the architects) to ensure that every element was synchronized to the whole and harmonized in proportion, form, and scale.

 

 

Design Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects Associate Architect: Smith Carter Architects and Engineers

Advocate Architect: Prairie Architects

Energy/Climate Engineers: Transsolar Energietechnik

General Contractor: J.D. Strachan Construction Ltd

Landscape Architect: Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram

Landscape Architect: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

Civil Engineer: MTE

Electrical Engineer: AECOM (formerly Earth Tech) 

Mechanical Engineer: AECOM (formerly Earth Tech) 

Structural Engineer: Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd.

Structural Engineer: Halcrow Yolles

Interior design: Base Building and Public Space - KPMB Architects

Interior design:  Office/Workspace - IBI Group, Number Ten Architectural Group, Environmental Space Planning Commissioning Agent: Enermodal

Owner/Developer: Manitoba Hydro

Building Envelope consultant:  Brook Van Dalen & Associates

Lighting Design: Pivotal Lighting Design

Microclimate: RWDI Inc

Geothermal: Groundsolar Energy Technologies

Geothermal: Omnicron Consulting Group

Life Safety: Leber | Rubes 

Vertical Transportation: Soberman Engineering 

Acoustics: Aercoustics 

Quantity Surveyor: Hanscomb 

Municipal & Site Services: Wardrop Engineering 

Traffic/Access/Parking Engineer: ND Lea Engineers & Planners 

Geotechnical Engineer/Hydrogeologist: UMA Engineering 

Geotechnical Engineer: Dyregrov consultants 

Water Feature Consultant: Dan Euser Water Architecture