While I’ve designed a few single-family homes, I’m well aware that designing a high-rise office building is a whole ’nother kettle of fish. The challenge is far greater — at least an order-of-magnitude greater — requiring an experienced team that includes architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and energy consultants.
I spent some time mulling the complexity of high-rise design during a recent tour of Manitoba Hydro Place, a 21-story office building in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I’m not in Winnipeg very often; I was in town because I’d been invited to give a presentation at a fenestration conference called FenCon 17. At the conference I met Harry Schroeder, a building systems engineer at Manitoba Hydro, and Schroeder offered to show me around his employer’s downtown headquarters.
A green showcase
What’s so interesting about this particular office building? Since it was completed in 2009 (and certified as LEED Platinum in 2012), Manitoba Hydro Place has received lots of international attention for its unusual green features and energy efficiency.
The high-rise office building is the headquarters of Manitoba Hydro, a utility that supplies the province with electricity and natural gas. The first floor of the building is mostly public space, including retail outlets. The lowest three floors, called the “podium,” have a bigger footprint than the tower above; the podium has a vegetated roof.
In hopes of encouraging employees to commute by bicycle and public transportation, the basement has only a limited number of parking spaces (see Image #2 at the bottom of the article). Some of the relevant specifications for the building are shown in the sidebar below.