Manitoba Hydro Place

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg, and Smith Carter Architects

and Engineers Incorporated

Jury comments: Manitoba Hydro is to be congratulated for building such an ambitious project and locating it in a downtown area of Winnipeg that will rejuvenate that part of the city. Its 65% energy conservation is remarkable for a building of such scale, and radical by North American standards. Higher than average construction costs reflect the long-term thinking that the building will pay back through its durability, superior energy performance, and healthy working conditions for its employees in the form of daylighting, natural ventilation and pleasing interiors. The building is a game-changer that we hope other corporate clients will replicate.

Manitoba Hydro, the primary energy utility in the Province of Manitoba, set ambitious goals for its new headquarters, namely, high energy efficiency, urban revitalization, and a supportive workplace. The 65,000m2, 22-storey office tower occupies a full block in the centre of Winnipeg, a city of extreme climate, and a downtown in recovery from economic downturn in recent years. The form and massing directly respond to the climate while the architecture revives the city’s former ‘Chicago-scale’ urban spirit.

The sustainable design strategies include maximum harnessing of solar, wind and geothermal energy, a high-performance building envelope, and a natural ventilation strategy that incorporates a solar chimney and operable windows.
No single feature is more important than any other, as the entire building is designed to simulate a living organism. To achieve the seamless integration of design and performance goals, Manitoba Hydro mandated that the solution result from a formal Integrated Design Process [IDP].
The design fuses time-tested principles such as massing, orientation, and exposed thermal mass with immediate digital analysis and computerized building management systems to create a climate-responsive design that relies on free passive energy while delivering design excellence and, most importantly, the well-being of employees, all while instilling pride of citizenship.

Every part of the building relates to the whole. The signature capital ‘A’ plan comprises two 18-storey twin office towers set on a three-storey, street-scaled podium. The podium, bisected by a Public Galleria, clad in masonry to relate to the city’s historic fabric, creates a sheltered route through the full city block. The towers converge at the building’s north end to minimize north-exposed surface area, and splay open to the south to maximize solar and wind exposure.
The solar chimney at the north end helps to ventilate the building in summer, and to direct warm, stale office air to the parking garage in winter. It also identifies the building as a new urban icon.

In winter, outdoor air is drawn into three, stacked six-storey south-facing atria where it is heated by heat from the geothermal field and humidified by water features within each of the three atria. In summer, the water features dehumidify admitted outdoor air. In this way, outdoor air is passively treated before being directed into the raised floors of the building for distribution.

The 11m-wide floor plates of the towers give access to views and natural light. The towers are double-glazed with motorized windows on the exterior and single glazed on the interior that can be opened manually. Automated louvres within the double façade open and close during the day to reduce solar gain and glare. Light fixtures are controlled by daylighting and occupancy sensors. Employees can control air delivery through the raised floor, and lighting levels from their work stations.

Energy savings of nearly 65% have been achieved through use of radiant heating and cooling from exposed concrete thermal mass, the large geothermal field that provides 100% of cooling and 75% of heating, highly efficient mechanical systems, and a building management system that optimizes lighting, solar shading, and heating/cooling loads.
Green roofs covering the podium are irrigated by rainfall and by condensate from the fan coil units. The street-level three-storey podium is bisected by a public galleria that can hold 1,000 people for all manner of public functions.


  • Owner  Manitoba Hydro
  • Design Architect  Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg
  • Executive Architect  Smith Carter Architects and Engineers Inc.
  • Energy Engineer Transsolar Incorporated
  • General Contractor  PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
  • Landscape Architects  Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram
  • Structural Engineer  Crosier/Kilgour/Yolles
  • Electrical & Mechanical Engineers  AECOM Incorporated
  • Advocate Architect  Prairie Architects
  • Illustrator  Bryan Christie Design
  • Photos  Eduard Hueber, ArchPhoto Inc. [Photos 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8], Gerry Kopelow [Photo 3], Tom Arban [Photo 4]

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