Office tower to bolster Calgary's growing skyline

A proposed commercial development in downtown Calgary is set to host the tallest building in the city — even surpassing The Bow.

Buildings to feature a 'clear glass skin' for maximum transparency

Brookfield has recently submitted a development permit application to build what would be the tallest office tower in Calgary and Western Canada, standing at 247 metres, on the site of the former Herald building. (Submitted by Brookfield Office Properties)

A proposed commercial development in downtown Calgary is set to host the tallest building in the city — even surpassing The Bow.

The "225 Sixth" or "Brookfield Place" towers would be a full-block commercial development, with roughly 2.8 million square feet, located between First and Second streets and Sixth and Seventh avenues southwest in downtown Calgary.

The developer, Brookfield Office Properties, has applied for a permit to construct a 56-storey building, which would measure 247 metres.

The proposed development would feature a 'clear glass skin' for maximum transparency. (Submitted by Brookfield Office Properties)

"We are extremely excited about this project," said Jan Sucharda, president and CEO of the Canadian commercial operations of Brookfield Office Properties.

The tower would stand taller than The Bow, which is 236 metres high.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says projects like this show that Calgary is still a city on the rise.

Currently there are no height restrictions on highrise developments downtown, and Nenshi says that's good for business.

"The sky's the limit, and ... people [can] compete with one another for the higher building as long as they're nice. You know, the original plans for Herald Square were an attractive building but ... a pretty utilitarian building. And I'm really excited to see that they've upped the ante a little with the interesting crown feature. I think it will be a nice addition to our skyline."

A second 42-storey tower is proposed for the northwest corner of the site, with a three-storey, 50,000-square-foot transparent glass pavilion connecting the buildings for a Plus 15 pedestrian skywalk.

Sucharda said the project includes a "winter garden" that will offer art and event programs and be available as a gathering place for the community.

"The contemporary modernist architecture of the towers provides maximum transparency through a clear glass skin," said the company in a release. 

Brookfield says the entire project would invest in excess of $1 billion into the downtown core and create approximately 1,300 construction jobs.

The building would also boast sustainable design features, like storm-water management and auto sharing, car pooling and electric plug-in parking facilities.

Sucharda said work on the first tower could be completed in 2017 if a tenant is secured.

Low vacancy rate

According to a recent report conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle, there is a growing need for commercial development as Calgary climbs the ranks of priciest downtown office rentals.

The financial and professional services firm, which specializes in real estate services and investment management, says an extremely low vacancy rate in downtown Calgary has prompted a new wave of development in the market.

The company says limited office supply is leaving "captive" tenants little option but to extend existing leases.

"For tenants, this is a welcome trend considering the current limited space options for new and large blocks of space, and the steadily rising rental rates in this landlord-friendly environment," said Brett Miller, president of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Canada operations in a release.

"With major new supply being added, these markets are likely to shift closer to equilibrium over the next five years as landlords lose some of their current leverage."

The main tower of the proposed development would surpass The Bow office tower's bragging rights as tallest building in Western Canada by 11 metres. (Submitted by Brookfield Office Properties)