Gallery: Calgary’s new green skyscraper by Foster + Partners


What does one of the largest independently owned oil and gas companies do to turn over a more sustainable leaf? Well, in this case, EnCana hired green-tech architecture firm du jour Foster + Partners to design their new, environmentally sustainable headquarters in Calgary, Canada. Dubbed The Bow, the new tower’s namesake comes from its overall shape, as well as the breathtaking views it offers inhabitants of the Bow River. As expected from a Foster + Partners design, the form of this sustainable skyscraper follows some very green function.

The first steel tower to be built in Calgary, The Bow’s use of this core structural material reduces overall material use by 30%. Additional green features (often found in Foster + Partners’ designs) include a system of interior green spaces, and three sky gardens. These integrated green spaces will separate the commercial, residential, and retail spaces planned for occupancy following the building’s completion in 2010. The most pronounced green feature of the design is the building’s bow shaped tower which contains a south-facing atrium. Running the entire height of the façade, this passive solar space will absorb the sun’s energy to warm the tower in cold Calgary winters.

The mixed-use scheme of The Bow tower offers up a model of sustainable urban living without even leaving the premise. Even so, we suggest residents and visitors step outside in one of the cleanest cities in the world, and its outlying mountain areas known as a great ecotourist destination.

+ EnCana
+ Foster + Partners


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  1. Fantastic Flat-Pack Pre... October 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    […] selecting the cabin of your dreams, the home will be manufactured in Calgary and packed flat to minimize on shipping costs and environmental impact. Included in the delivery […]

  2. tylerc July 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm


    No one in Canada likes Toronto either, other than Torontoians. Calgary is much cleaner, more prosperous, and best of all, is not in Ontario. I’m glad all the Liberals are out there ruining your city and province, they will certainly never gain any power in Alberta.

  3. spacecadet May 27, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Dearest Evelyn,

    Do you have local correspondence anywhere in Canada? I enjoy my daily dose of inhabitat, but as a Toronto resident I have often felt that a particular issue of inhabitat would be immensly more accurate and informative with a Canadian point of view.
    For instance are you aware that Toronto is the condominium capital of North America (units/permits since 1996)?. And on topic; that Calgary is one of 2 major cities in the province of Alberta, whose great wealth and prolific growth over the past 20 years is directly attributable to the TARS SANDS which is accurately described as the most toxic, environmentally damaging, project on Earth. (see for reference).
    Anything positive that you might consider about Calgary, must be viewed in the light of this awful project.
    Cheers, Michael

  4. dkrickard May 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    GO FLAMES GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. paul May 27, 2008 at 11:40 am
  6. ryanmitton May 26, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    i live in calgary and have travelled to about 50 major cities so far. calgary is certainly top 4, granted i might be bias a little.

    as for ecotourism, i\’d say people come here to ski, and locals love to ski and mountain bike in the foothills/frontrange. i know lots of other outdoor sports exist, i just focus on these two. calgary has tonnes of eco sports, not sure about the tourist part.
    best, ryan

  7. Evelyn Lee May 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you for your comments!

    We love to hear from readers, especially when it comes to places where we do not have local correspondences.

    The post has been updated to reflect Calgary as clean and its outlying ecotourism areas per wikipedia:

    And as car-centric as it may be, Calgary was noted as one of the “cleanest” cities in 2007 per Forbes:

    Best –

  8. pinkrobe May 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    “we suggest residents and visitors step outside in one of the cleanest cities in the world, renowned as an ecotourism destination”

    Sorry, what? Calgary is a textbook case of car-centric city planning, with inadequate public transit and unsustainable urban sprawl. Your average Calgarian makes ~75% of all trips outside the home in a private vehicle, the second-highest rate in Canada. The Bow River has some excellent trout fishing – downstream of the sewage treatment plant. You’re almost as likely to reel in a wad of toilet paper as you are a very large but totally inedible fish. There is no eco-tourism in Calgary. If you want that, you need to travel west to Kananaskis Country or into British Columbia.

    As a 30-year resident, I will say that some steps have been made to improve Calgary’s ecological footprint, but not nearly enough to consider it a destination for “eco-tourism”.

  9. WBrooke May 26, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    It is a nice city, but it would take a giant leap of the imagination to call Calgary an “ecotourism destination”. I live in Calgary, and monster trucks definitely outnumber pedestrians or cyclists on the streets. Calgary appears as a cautionary example of poorly designed suburbs and urban sprawl in most urban planning textbooks.

    Calgary is miniature reflection of the Province of Alberta, where our Environment Minister is openly hostile towards the environment, and our own Premier railed against the dangers of wind turbines when 500 ducks recently sank to their doom in a toxic oil-sands tailings pond.

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