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Friday | 02 October, 2009 | 9:21 am

Reaching new heights

By John Loos

October 2009 - Calgary, Alberta, is a burgeoning metropolis of more than 1 million that has seen steady growth and diversification over the years. Home to the Flames, a popular NHL team, and a strong country music scene, the city is also a business hub for central Canada.

And its business profile will continue to grow as a new steel skyscraper is being built in the heart of its downtown. According to Popular Mechanics, 58-story The Bow will not only be Calgary's tallest building (775 feet), it'll be the city's first steel skyscraper, as well. The entire 2 million-square-foot structure will house EnCana Corp., Calgary, a natural gas and oil producer.

Also, the tower is being built on the site of the old York Hotel, and in a bid to preserve the history of the city, it will incorporate the original hotel facade into its design.

Going up
The Bow was designed by the architectural firm Foster + Partners, London, and features many unique attributes that reduce construction, energy and maintenance costs.

Named for both the Bow River that winds through Calgary and its crescent design, The Bow maximizes natural light internally, as the atrium face is strategically situated to face southwest, allowing it to take advantage of seasonal sunpaths.

On the exterior, its crescent shape will reduce down drafts that create urban wind tunnels.

According to the tower's official Web site, the steel diagonal grid design, which is a mix of diagonal and vertical beams, reduces the tower's weight by minimizing the size and number of internal support columns, as well as reducing the wall thickness of elevator shafts. The Bow is the first tower in North America to have a triangular diagonal grid system applied on a curved design.

Overall, 48,000 metric tons of steel will be used, framing 900,000 square feet of glass. And, from the looks of it, the size and ambition of the project have not impacted construction progress.

"Everything is on time, on budget," said Michael Brown, associate vice president of Matthews Development (Alberta) Inc., the developer managing The Bow's construction, in an article in the Calgary Herald. "The steel is actually going up. It's getting faster and faster as we get better at erecting the steel."

Matthews Southwest, Lewisville, Texas, is a full-service development company with experience in managing corporate office projects.

Currently, The Bow is expected to reach 32 stories by the end of the year and reach its full height by the summer of 2010. MM

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