The Bow (skyscraper)

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The Bow
The Bow in Calgary.jpg
August 2012
General information
Status Complete
Type Office
Location 500 Centre Street SE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Coordinates 51°02′52″N 114°03′44″W / 51.04778°N 114.06222°W / 51.04778; -114.06222Coordinates: 51°02′52″N 114°03′44″W / 51.04778°N 114.06222°W / 51.04778; -114.06222
Construction started June 13, 2007
Completed 2012
Cost $1.4 billion CAD
Owner H&R Reit[1]
Roof 236 m (774 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 58 floors
53 office floors
2 retail floors
4 mechanical floors
3 sky gardens
Design and construction
Architect Foster + Partners, Zeidler Partnership Architects
Developer Matthews Southwest
Structural engineer Halcrow Yolles
Main contractor Ledcor Group of Companies

The Bow is a 158,000-square-metre (1,700,000 sq ft) office building for the headquarters of Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy, in downtown Calgary, Alberta. The building is currently the tallest office tower in Calgary, and tallest in Canada outside Toronto.[2] The Bow is also considered the start of redevelopment in Calgary's Downtown East Village.[3] It was completed in 2012 and was ranked among the top 10 architectural projects of 2012 according to Azure Magazine.[4]


Location of The Bow before construction; the York Hotel was to be incorporated in the building complex

Early project plans[edit]

Encana Corporation, North America's second largest natural gas producer, announced plans for the highrise in 2006. Early designs suggested that the project would consist of a complex of towers (perhaps two or more) over two blocks. The tallest of these towers could be 60 stories tall, which would make it taller than the current tallest tower in Western Canada, the Suncor Energy Centre (also in Calgary). Conflicting reports suggested that it would be one single tower around 70 stories tall and possibly over 1,000 feet (300 m), making it the tallest building in Canada. Other sources suggested a two tower complex spanning the entire surface of two blocks, with a second tower of 40 to 50 storeys connected at sixth storey level over 6th Avenue.[5] Official statements declared that the tower will be 58 stories, or 247 metres (810 ft) tall.

The management company in charge of the project was Texas-based Matthews Southwest, with architectural services furnished by UK-based Foster + Partners & Zeidler Partnership Architects of Calgary.[6]

Announcement of the Bow[edit]

The project filed for development permit application is called The Bow, for its crescent shape and the view of the Bow River.[6] On October 12, 2006, Foster + Partners revealed the first designs for the new tower.[7]

Plans called for the project to house two separate companies both equally occupying the space. Encana Natural Gas with over 3,000 Calgary-based employees and Cenovus Energy's more than 3,600 Calgary based staff. Both companies were located at multiple sites throughout the downtown core. With an estimated 158,000-square-metre total office space, the complex was expected to be the city's largest. Construction started in June 2007 and the building opened in June 2013 with a final cost of $1.4 billion.[8] The tower was lowered down to 236 m due to shadowing concerns and is the 149th tallest building in the world.

On February 9, 2007, EnCana sold The Bow office project assets to H&R Real Estate Investment Trust for $70 million,[9] while signing a 25-year tenant lease agreement that was to start after the project's completion.

In late June 2007, the company announced that the Portrait Gallery of Canada would not be moving from Ottawa into the Bow.[10]


Groundbreaking took place on June 13, 2007, with work starting on both sides of 6th Avenue South between Centre Street and 1st Street East.[11] Sixth Avenue was excavated, after closure of the block (August 21, 2007)[12] and the six level underground parkade was constructed on a two block area, on both north and south side of 6th Avenue.

A neighbouring historic building - The York Hotel, built 1929-1930 in the Edwardian Commercial Architectural style was demolished to make room for the new building. Because of the historical significance of the York Hotel it was important to save as much as reasonable to incorporate into the new structure. Between 70 and 80 percent of the bricks were saved and used to reconstruct two of the hotel’s exterior walls. The brown brick originally supplied by Clayburn Brick in Abbotsford and the cast-in-concrete friezes have been removed, numbered and graphed to show the original location the brick and friezes were installed on the new building in their original locations. The remainder of the building was demolished ahead of schedule by Calgary based demolition and environmental contractor Hazco.

The concrete foundation was continuously poured over 36 hours on May 11 and 12, 2008, being the largest of its kind in Canada, and third largest in the world after the Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles and the Sama Tower (Al Durrah Tower) in Dubai.[13] Some 14,000 cubic metres (18,000 cu yd) of concrete filled the 3,000-square-metre (30,000 sq ft) foundation.

Erection of the above ground steel superstructure began in October 2008 with the installation of the first of two Favelle Favco heavy lift tower cranes.

Construction was briefly halted in December 2008 due to a $400 million shortage of financing needed to finish the job.[14] The project continued to move forward, despite the unresolved financing issues.[15] In April 2009, a secondary tower in the project, the 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) building planned for a block south of the main tower, was put on hold for at least two years. The main tower, however, was set to continue, having secured the remaining $475 million required for completion of the structure.[16]

On July 8, 2010, the Bow surpassed Suncor Energy Centre as Calgary's highest building.[17] The 215 metres (705 ft) tall Suncor Energy Centre was the highest building in Calgary since 1984. The addition of a steel girder, part of floors 55 to 57, raised the Bow tower to 218 metres (715 ft).

Panorama of construction in May 2011, from Tom Campbell's Hill in Bridgeland

Public art[edit]

The Bow from the north

Encana officially confirmed on June 16, 2008, that Jaume Plensa, an artist most famous for the Crown Fountain in Chicago, had been chosen to complete two major public art installations for the project.[18] The first work, entitled Wonderland, was unveiled on January 25, 2013, on the south plaza.[19][20] The second work, entitled Alberta's Dream is located on the north side and depicts a bronze casting of the artist embracing a living tree.[21]

Ghost towers[edit]

According to a report by Alexi Olcheski of Avison Young published in August 2015, vacancy rates rose to 11.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2015 from 8.3 per cent in 2014. Oil and gas company office spaces in downtown Calgary are subleasing 40 per cent of their overall vacancies.[22] H&R Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the 58-storey 158,000-square-metre highrise the Bow Tower claims the building was fully leased. In response to the downturn anchor tenants such as Suncor and Cenovus have been letting staff and contractors go and have subleased office spaces.[22] Cenovus had 2,000 staff working in offices in the Bow. Encana another key tenant laid off 200 people.[22] There may be more empty office spaces in Calgary than the numbers provided for vacancy rates. A Colliers International report described this phenomenon as "ghost vacancy."[22]

Building details[edit]

  • Height: 236 metres (774 ft)[23]
  • 58 stories
    • 2 retail floors - 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2)
    • 3 floors - sky gardens, spaced approximately every 18 floors (sky lobbies), served by express elevators
    • 53 office floors - 1,700,000 square feet (160,000 m2)
    • 4 mechanical floors
    • In total over 84,000 square metres (900,000 sq ft) of glass
  • Footprint: 190,000 square feet (18,000 m2)
  • Parking: 1,400 parking stalls (6 level parkade, spanning two blocks on both sides of 6th Avenue)
  • +15 skywalk connections to neighbouring buildings (Telus building, Suncor Energy Centre, [future]<> Hyatt Regency Calgary)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Calgary’s Most Beautiful Building" (PDF). The Bow Building. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  2. ^ "The Bow rises as Calgary's tallest building". CBC News. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  3. ^ "Calgary's future skyline unveiled". Calgary Herald. 13 October 2006. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  4. ^ Osborne, Catherine (20 December 2012). "2012 in Review: Top 10 Projects". Azure. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  5. ^ Beatty, Bob (23 November 2005). "Project could loom over Calgary skyline". Businessedge. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  6. ^ a b "EnCana's unveils The Bow — Calgary's newest tower" (Press release). EnCana. 12 October 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  7. ^ "Projects: The Bow, Calgary 2005-2013". Foster + Partners. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  8. ^ "The Bow tower officially opens in Calgary". CBC News. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  9. ^ "EnCana advances The Bow office project" (Press release). EnCana. 9 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-03-18. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  10. ^ "EnCana Tower Construction Underway". Calgary Herald. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  11. ^ "Dreaded downtown closure begins". Calgary Herald. 21 August 2007. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  12. ^ "Concrete pour smashes record". Calgary Herald. 11 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  13. ^ "A sticky ending for the tar sands". The Economist. 15 January 2009. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  14. ^ Baker, Linda (January 2009). "A Boom in Office Towers in Calgary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  15. ^ Vanderklippe, Nathan (1 April 2009). "Plans for Calgary's Bow tower to go ahead". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  16. ^ "The Bow rises as Calgary's tallest building". CBC News. 8 August 2010. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  17. ^ "Calgary's Wonderland sculpture joins global collection of Jaume Plensa heads". Calgary Sun. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  18. ^ "Inspiring places and spaces: unveiling Wonderland". Encana. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  19. ^ "Bow Building head statue installation complete". CBC News. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  20. ^ Jarvie, Michele (2 May 2013). "Alberta’s Dream bronze sculpture of a man hugging a live tree by Barcelona artist Juame Plensa outside The Bow tower". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  21. ^ a b c d Morgan, Geoffrey (12 August 2015). "‘Ghost vacancies’ haunt downtown Calgary as oil patch layoffs empty office buildings". Financial Post. Calgary. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "The Bow, Calgary". Emporis. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 
  23. ^ "Specifications". The Bow Building. Retrieved 2015-09-12. 

External links[edit]