Suncor Energy Centre

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Suncor Energy Centre
View From Calgary Tower, 1991. 01 (cropped).jpg
Petro-Canada Centre in 1991 (now Suncor Energy Centre)
General information
Location150 6th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Coordinates51°02′53″N 114°03′48″W / 51.04806°N 114.06333°W / 51.04806; -114.06333
Construction startedApril 2, 1982[1]
Topped-outMay 26, 1983 (West)
CostCAD$200-million (equivalent to $606-million in 2018)
OwnerBrookfield Office Properties & ARCI Inc.
ManagementBrookfield Office Properties
Roof215 m (705 ft) (west),[3] 130 m (427 ft) (east)[4]
Technical details
Floor count53 (west), 32 (east)
Floor area101,258 m2 (1,089,930 sq ft) (west) 45,410 m2 (488,800 sq ft) (east)[2]
Design and construction
ArchitectWZMH Architects
DeveloperBrookfield Office Properties
Main contractorCANA Construction Company Limited

The Suncor Energy Centre,[5] formerly the Petro-Canada Centre, is a 181,000-square-metre (1,950,000 sq ft) project composed of two granite and reflective glass-clad office towers of 32 floors and 52 floors, situated in the office core of downtown Calgary, Alberta. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat lists the west tower (215 m or 705 ft as measured to top of the structure), as the 19th tallest building in Canada and the fourth tallest skyscraper outside of Toronto.[2] The west tower overtook the Calgary Tower as the tallest free-standing structure in Calgary from its completion 1984, until being surpassed by the neighbouring Bow in 2010.[6] The office towers encompass 158,000 m2 (1,700,000 sq ft) of rentable office space with the complex also containing 23,000 m2 (250,000 sq ft) of retail and underground parking area. A glass-enclosed walkway (part of the +15 System) provides shelter, and easy access to the surrounding buildings.

The building was often called Red Square in its early years, a derisive reference to its primary occupant Petro-Canada, which was a federal Crown Corporation created under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program.[7] Following the completion of the complex in 1984, one writer for the Calgary Herald described the buildings as "a twin-towered, $200-million monument to socialism", and later Premier Peter Lougheed would blame Petro-Canada and the two towers for the collapse of the Calgary real-estate boom, in part by flooding the market.[8] Petro-Canada was privatized in 1991 under the Brian Mulroney government and acquired in 2009 by the complex's current namesake, Suncor Energy, which continues to operate the company as a subsidiary.[9]


Planning for the complex began in the late-1970s following the creation of Petro-Canada. Petro-Canada came to an agreement with the West German firm ARCI Inc. to jointly develop an ARCI-owned site in Calgary to host the Crown Corporation's new headquarters.[1] ARCI Inc served as an investment corporation, which had purchased the site several years early, and continues to be owned by the German House of Arenberg.[1] In May 1980, a $200-million design was proposed with an all-glass, three-tower design including a 25-storey tower to be completed in 1982 and a larger 50-storey tower completed later in 1983.[10] The Calgary Planning Commission rejected the proposal in Fall 1980 as the site was not large enough for the density three towers would provide, and the all-glass design was not desirable for the city. Subsequently, Petro-Canada purchased the air rights from the neighbouring Calgary Chamber of Commerce for $2.5 million and received approval for a granite-clad two-tower design with an density bonus option of four storeys on the smaller tower.[1]

Construction on the complex began on April 2, 1982.[1] During construction, local controversy arose when no Canadian bids were received to supply the site with exterior granite cladding, which resulted in the use of $500,000 of Finnish granite, which was cut and polished in Italy and shipped to the Calgary site for installation.[1] Another local controversy was the installation of bilingual signage (French and English), which Petro-Canada head office insisted upon.[1] On January 4, 1983 the West tower reached 191 metres in height, exceeding the Calgary Tower and becoming the tallest freestanding structure in Calgary and Western Canada.[11] The 52-storey west tower was topped off on May 26, 1983,[12] and the complex was completed in 1984.[1]

During construction in April 1983, one of the site's tower cranes collapsed, killing its operator.[13] At the time of the collapse, the crane was lifting a 3-tonne marble slab for installation on the exterior of the 44th storey of the building, during which the crane buckled causing the boom to swing down and the marble slab to smash into the side of the 30th floor, sending debris to the street below.[14]

In December 1998, Petro-Canada sold their remaining half interest in the complex to Gentra Inc. (former subsidiary of Brookfield Properties Corporation) for $200 million (equivalent to $292 million in 2018), which included Petro-Canada signing a 15-year lease to remain in the towers.[15]

Major tenants[edit]

Major tenants of the Suncor Energy Centre include Suncor Energy Inc., Precision Drilling Corporation, Taqa North, Crescent Point Energy, Enbridge, Direct Energy, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Weatherford Canada.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Liverant, Bettina (January 8, 1984). "A personal look at Calgary's Petro-Canada Centre: Imperfectly Canadian". Calgary Herald.
  2. ^ a b "Suncor Energy Centre I". Skyscraper Center. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Emporis (2007). "Petro-Canada Centre - West Tower". Retrieved April 12, 2007.
  4. ^ Emporis (2007). "Petro-Canada Centre - East Tower". Retrieved April 12, 2007.
  5. ^ The Canadian Press (August 4, 2009). "Suncor rebrands 'Red Square'". CBC News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "The Bow rises as Calgary's tallest building". CBC News. July 8, 2010. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  7. ^ Fotheringham, Allan (November 14, 1983). "The 52-storey federal insult". Maclean's. p. 88. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  8. ^ Smith, Donald B. (2005). Calgary's Grand Story: The Making of a Prairie Metropolis from the Viewpoint of Two Heritage Buildings. Calgary, AB: University of Calgary Press. p. 282. ISBN 9781552381748.
  9. ^ "Suncor, Petro-Canada announce merger". CBC News. March 23, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  10. ^ Willoughby, Jack (May 16, 1980). "Calgary Head Office to cost Petro-Canada $200 million". The Globe and Mail. pp. B2.
  11. ^ Martin, Don (January 5, 1983). "Tower loses top status". Calgary Herald. p. 1.
  12. ^ Atkinson, Don (May 27, 1983). "PetroCan tops tower". Calgary Herald. pp. D1.
  13. ^ Collins, Ron (April 25, 1983). "Killer crane taken down". Calgary Herald. p. B1. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  14. ^ Lee, Gordon (April 22, 1983). "Plan to move dangling crane wreck studied". Calgary Herald. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Howlett, Karen (December 9, 1998). "Gentra buys half-interest in Petro-Canada Centre". The Globe and Mail. p. B6.

External links[edit]