New hydro headquarters design completed: called next pillar in downtown development

Manitoba Hydro’s new $188-million office building is expected to be another anchor for the revitalization of Winnipeg’s downtown.

The new headquarters is also being called a model for highly energy-efficient building design and operation. 

The final design for the corporation’s new headquarters was released last week. 

“Along with being a model for energy efficiency and a source of pride for Manitobans, Manitoba Hydro’s new office building will be the next pillar in the revitalization of Winnipeg’s downtown, bringing approximately 2,000 people to the city’s downtown,” said Premier Gary Doer. 

“Along with Red River College’s Princess Avenue campus and the MTS Centre, this new building is a continuation of the positive momentum and growth that is underway in our city.” 

“Manitoba Hydro will contribute greatly to the skyline of our emerging downtown,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “The heart of our city is undergoing a renaissance and I applaud the commitment that Manitoba Hydro has made in keeping our momentum moving forward.”

The 22-storey building will encompass approximately 690,000 square feet, including public, retail, commercial and Manitoba Hydro office space. It will include the areas required to achieve the building’s energy reduction target of 60 per cent — which would make it one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world. 

The design incorporates a splayed twin office tower resting on a podium that varies from two to three storeys, effectively marrying a large building mass with street level scale. 

Energy efficiencies include: 

• A geothermal heat pump system (extracting heat from the ground in the winter, returning it to the ground in warmer temperatures).

• A living “green” roof with mosses, grasses and lichens.

• Atriums to provide conditioned fresh air.

• A solar chimney to enhance fresh air ventilation.

• Windows designed to maximize daylight and reduce artificial lighting. 

• Energy-efficient lighting, pumps and drives. 

• A double external wall to reduce heating and cooling requirements in extreme temperatures. 

The building’s form and orientation optimizes passive systems for ventilation, heating and cooling. 

The building will be connected to the downtown elevated walkway system and provides street level retail activity, as well as offering a landscaped public courtyard on its southern exposure along Graham Avenue. 

“The design successfully meets our objectives,” said Bob Brennan, Manitoba Hydro president and CEO. “It provides a healthy, productive and creative workplace for our employees and the building will be a world-class model of energy efficiency and sustainability, while enhancing the urban environment and economy of downtown Winnipeg.” 

The new, state-of-the-art office building is being constructed on a site that fills an entire city block on the south side of Portage Avenue between Edmonton and Carlton streets and extending south to Graham Avenue. 

The new building, which was part of Manitoba Hydro’s agreement to purchase Winnipeg Hydro, will cost $188 million to construct. The development of the project will total $258 million, which also includes such costs as modernizing Hydro’s information technology and security systems, pedestrian bridge linkage, insurance, design work and capital interest. 

The new headquarters is expected to save the corporation $15 million in annual operating costs. Included in this total is approximately $7 million in annual lease costs the corporation will save by amalgamating 12 leased Hydro offices into one location. The remainder of the savings will be realized through enhanced energy efficiencies, productivity improvements, co-location of employees and other design features. 

Design Architects are Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB) Architects, Toronto, Ontario, with Smith Carter Architects and Engineers Incorporated, Winnipeg, providing local expertise and design and production support as the architect of record. 

Deconstruction of on-site structures is nearing completion, with reusable material from buildings on the site salvaged for recycling to minimize materials going to landfill for disposal. 

Construction is underway, beginning with foundation excavation. Completion is scheduled for 2007.