The new Manulife Office Tower in downtown Vancouver at 980 Howe had its grand opening just a few weeks ago.
Designed by HDR | CEI Architecture Associates and Endall Elliot Associates, the highly sustainable 16-storey building is a model of clean, contemporary office design. The facility provides 245,000 square feet of leasable office space in downtown Vancouver.
Elegant contemporary design
“The client challenged us to create an all-glass curtain wall building,” said Alan Endall, architect and principal with Endall Elliot Associates.
The design team wasn’t sure that was possible at first, as an all-glass curtain wall structure would have a hard time achieving the energy efficiency standards required for the project, which is targeting LEED Gold.
“The team responded with an all-glass design that incorporates innovative features to reduce solar heat gain and ensure energy efficiency, while preserving transparency and a sense of openness,” said John Scott, Vice President of HDR | CEI.
A limited material palette and a subtle layering of light colours and textures helps the building achieve a simple, almost minimalist expression that contrasts with the more heavily articulated and solid buildings in the neighbourhood.
Sustainable features abound
The design uses a triple-glazed curtain wall throughout the structure. Triple-glazing—essentially three panes of glass separated by argon gas—offers better insulation than the more common double-glazing. It also provides additional surfaces for low-e coating, which prevents interior heat loss and mitigates solar heat gain.
To address how light and shadow affect the building, the design team studied the position of the sun at different times of the day and during each season. This led to the use of ceramic frit patterns—ceramic baked onto the glass—with subtle variations in glass colour and patterning on the four orientations of the building to address the different amount of sun and shadow that each frontage gets.
The design team used a highly transparent low-iron glass on lower floors of the Howe Street facade, since that face tends to be in the shade and solar gain is not as much of an issue.
“It was another way that we were able to vary the appearance of the all-glass building along that frontage,” noted Endall.
Continuing the minimalist theme, interior finishes are kept simple, with white marble on columns and walls, granite paving, and wood introduced in the ceiling to help create warmth in the lobby.
“The entrance lobby is an important aspect of the interiors,” said Scott. “We introduced a double-height linear entry lobby with low-iron glass and structural glazing along the street to facilitate transparency.”
Building amenities include a fitness centre and a common meeting room on the penthouse level.
Additional sustainable features include:
- A combination of high performance building envelope, high efficiency mechanical systems, heat recovery and lighting technologies limit energy use.
- End-of-trip cycling facilities with ample covered bike parking, showers and change rooms
- Preferred parking and charging stations for electric vehicles.
- Landscaping strategies with rain gardens, boulevard structural soil trenches providing a reservoir to support shade trees, public education, and art celebrating water management.
- Plantings featuring native species and hardy west coast plants to minimize maintenance and pest management.
- The project mitigates the “heat island” effect by placing parking underground, incorporating street trees and plantings to help cool building surfaces, and using light-coloured landscape materials, both at the ground plane and roof level.