Project Credits: Foster and Partners with Zeidler Partnership Architects
Photography by Nigel Young (Foster + Partners)
The Bow is the first phase of a mixed-use masterplan for the regeneration of two entire city blocks on the east side of Centre Street, a major axis through downtown Calgary. Providing a headquarters for a major energy company, The Bow’s form evolved through environmental and organizational analysis. The tower faces south, curving towards the sun to take advantage of daylight and heat. The name of the building echoes both the bow-shaped plan, which maximizes the perimeter for cellular offices and offers views of the Rocky Mountains, as well as Calgary’s beloved Bow River.
By turning the convex façade towards the prevailing wind, the structural loading is minimized, effectively reducing the amount of steel required for the inherently efficient diagrid structural system. This system, wherein each triangulated section acts as a unifying element for six storeys, visually breaks down the massive scale of the building. Where the Bow curves inwards, the glazed façade is pulled forward to create a series of atria that run the full height of the tower. These spaces act as climatic buffer zones, insulating the building and helping to reduce energy consumption by approximately 30 per cent. The design responds to the need to promote collaboration and introduce a social dimension to the working spaces; vertical access to the office floors is therefore directed through three sky gardens, which project into the atria at three levels. Staff facilities in the atria are complimented by an auditorium, which sits at the very top of the building.
At 236 metres, The Bow is the tallest tower in Calgary, equally significant in terms of its lateral connections established with the surrounding buildings as the connections on its lower levels. The city of Calgary is crisscrossed by a system of enclosed walkways, offering a sense of retreat from the city’s harsh winters ¬¬— the tower is fused to these routes at three points. The second floor is open to the public and acts as the only public connection over Centre Street, the scheme creates a vital link to the downtown network.