Matthew’s Development

Big time: Matthew's Development helps build Calgary's tallest office tower
Matthews Southwest Developments (MSD), the full-service development firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is taking its reputation as the leader in single-tenant developments to a whole new level with the soon-to-be tallest building in Calgary, Alberta going up under its watchful eye.
From conception to completion, MSD has worked on a variety of high-profile buildings, including Toronto’s Bell Centre, Ritz Carlton and the Canadian landmark formerly known as the Skydome. The firm’s latest building is set to be the tallest Canadian office tower ever built outside of Toronto. Coming in at 58 stories, The Bow will reach 775 feet in downtown Calgary.
“We have a fairly long track record in terms of working on large projects,” says Michael Brown, Senior Vice President. “Big projects are part of who we are. In fact, when we work on large projects we treat them like small projects.”
The 158,000-square-foot office building will be the headquarters for the EnCana Corporation and Cenovus Energy, two distinct and independent companies that split out of EnCana in 2009. The project will eventually house all of the firms’ 3,300 Calgary-based employees, presently spread out in five different offices throughout the city’s downtown core. 
“Not a building like it”
Designed by UK-based architects Foster + Partners, the project is split into three phases: the office tower, a 10-storey retail building, and a 26-room boutique hotel. The total cost is projected at $1.5 billion.
“There is not a building like it,” says Brown. “Typical office buildings you see these days are square; the Bow building is not. It is shaped like a bow or a crescent moon. While the shape of the building is very unique and architecturally pleasing, it actually works very well to meet the needs of the staff that are going to work inside it.”
Upon completion in 2011, The Bow’s distinctive arrival on the Calgary skyline will provide a new urban destination at its base for Calgarians and visitors. “From a construction point of view, we are on the 57th floor in terms of the steel erection of the tower,” explains Brown. “We just started on interior work for the first third of the building.”
Graphic sensibility
MSD is coordinating the complex structural design behind the building’s strong graphic sensibility. In collaboration with its contracted partners, the firm is using progressive design and construction methods to build this striking Calgary icon. “Matthews is the development manager on the Bow, so we are the agent for the owner,” adds Brown. “We put the project together in terms of the engagement of the architects and the construction team, and we also work with the owner in terms of facilitating financing.”
Among the building’s innovative elements are its aerodynamic crescent shape, which will significantly reduce exterior wind resistance, down draft and the urban venturi effect. Inside, the shape creates a floor plan that maximizes access to stunning downtown views and natural light. It also creates a collaborative and open workspace for EnCana and Cenovus employees.
Calgary skyline
The Bow is attuned to the local conditions and designed for Calgary’s climate. The atrium face extends the full height of the southwest face. It will passively harness the sun’s energy in all seasons. In the summer, the atrium will reflect or exhaust excess heat before it reaches office space. During the remaining seasons, the sun’s heat energy will be absorbed and recycled throughout the building to augment heating requirements for the north and east faces. 
In addition to a striking, graphical presentation on Calgary’s skyline, this diagonal grid (diagrid) system provides superior structural efficiency. This diagonal and vertical steel frame significantly reduces the overall steel weight, as well as the number and size of interior columns and thickness of the elevator shaft walls. 
Visually, the diagrid pattern is repeated every six stories. This is the first time a triangular diagrid system has been applied to a curved building design in a North American skyscraper.
High speed, high capacity express elevators take employees to mid- and high-rise lushly landscaped sky lobbies, known as Sky Gardens, where they access common services, such as photocopying and coffee stations. “The corporate culture of EnCana is one of an office environment as opposed to an open environment,” explains Brown.
“They had a number of work units that were interconnected. The floor plate allowed as many offices as you could have as well as getting multiple business units on each floor so you can get the intermingling among the staff.”
With offices in Mississauga, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta, MSD has acquired, built and managed single-and multi-tenant corporate office, institutional and industrial developments throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada since 1988. 
Despite a staff-base of less than 20 employees, Brown says that MSD continues to focus on remaining the size that it is while engaging with projects that they can bring value to. “We like to do projects that have a level of difficulty to them, that are going to stand out in the marketplace or in the community where they exist.”
When The Bow is completed in 2011, it will do just that.