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Barry Charnish, P. Eng. Senior Principal Halcrow Yolles, Toronto, Canada Jonathan Hendricks, P. Eng. Principal Halcrow Yolles, Toronto, Canada

Barry Charnish Joining Halcrow Yolles in 1974, Barry's career progression as an engineer has increased to include technical and business development roles within the company. As a Senior Principal, his responsibilities include working on many projects of varying size while maintaining responsibilities for conceptual design, construction drawings, specification production, and site reviews. Barry's area of expertise includes structural steel, reinforced and post tensioned concrete, as well as hybrid high-rise structures in Canada, the United States of America, China, and Germany. Projects involvement includes cultural arts centers across North America, hotel and residential structures, casinos, churches, and sports and office buildings.

Jonathan Hendricks Having Joined Halcrow Yolles in 1993, he has performed a number of technical roles such as Structural Engineer, Manager of IT, and task group leader for timber, masonry, vibration and sustainable design. Jonathan is also a member of the Technical Committee for CSA S304.1 which is responsible for the masonry design code in Canada. The Studio for Progressive Modelling which to develop understanding and tools to resolve issues associated with complex geometric forms. Jonathan was promoted to Principal in 2008 and has spent many years in both the Toronto and the London offices or Halcrow Yolles. Abstract The Bow is a new iconic building by Foster + Partners of London. This crescent shaped 59-storey tower features a vast atrium partitioned in four clear height sectors of 24, 18, 12 and six storeys. The faade of the atrium is an architectural exposed diagrid (diagonal grid) structure in six-storey segments that act as one of the buildings six separate systems making up the hybrid lateral force resisting system (LFRS). The other LRFS include a W-shaped rigid frame at each end of the banana-shaped structure, and two additional diagrid sectors on either side of a concentric and eccentrically braced area framed through the core. The building also features long-span composite beams creating core-to-perimeter wall open spaces. Keywords: Diagonal grid, perimeter tube system, structural steel structure, atrium structure, highrise structure.


The Bow project in Calgary Canada is the new headquarters building of EnCana Corporation, the largest energy corporation based in Canada. The site includes two city blocks in the central area of downtown Calgary and when completed, the project will be the tallest building in western Canada and the second tallest commercial office building in Canada at 238 meters, or 780 feet. The gross constructed area of the tower above grade is 180,000 square meters or approximately 2 million square feet. At the early stages of the project EnCana Corporation acquired the land for the development, selected the architect and consulting team, and developed the concept of the project to a Schematic Drawing phase. At this stage, the project was the subject of a developer / owner proposal call. H&R REIT were successful in negotiating a purchase of the property and the project, with EnCana signing a long term lease for their space. The conceptual development of the project started in late 2005, with the assignment of Foster + Partners as the signature design architect and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto and Calgary as the executive architects on the project. Halcrow Yolles were retained as the structural engineers on the project. Ledcor Construction Limited is the Construction Manager for the project with Matthews Developments Alberta as Development Managers. Supreme Walters Joint Venture (SWJV) were the fabricators and erectors for the structural steel. This paper will discuss the development of the architectural and structural concept for the building with particular reference to the development of the perimeter diagonal grid elements. Of the many elements of the lateral system, we will focus on the diagonal grid layout which occurs across the atrium opening. And lastly we will discuss the construction logistics in the context of the foundation to ground floor frames and the construction of the tower structural steel elements.



Early meetings with EnCana identified a number of objectives for the development. These included a distinctive image, a home away from home ambiance, and a desire to transform the local area in downtown Calgary. There was also a desire to tie into the enclosed plus fifteen pedestrian path though the downtown office and retail buildings. A particular focus of the project was a desire by EnCana to use the new development as a means of both attracting new staff to the company and retaining existing staff. Another goal of the design was to introduce landscaping at the base of the building to facilitate interaction with the public. Multi-storey sky gardens were also incorporated into the building to provide added green space and areas for incidental interaction for the EnCana staff. The design of the tower itself pursued sustainable design goals. As a result of the curving bow shape, wind loads were reduced when compared to a rectangular building. This would improve the economies of the building. Studies were carried out to position the building to maximize sunlight to the office space and to internal gathering locations. These studies partially helped determine the crescent - like bow shape with the interior curvature facing to the south west. Using this interior curvature captures sunlight. This shape gave rise to the locations of the atrium along the south west elevation. This atrium or plenum type buffer zone is designed to absorb the heat from daily sunlight and use it to partially warm the building in the winter and buffer the solar gain in the summer, and to minimize the environmental impact on the city. This orientation had the added benefit of maximizing the view of the nearby Rocky Mountains.

Diagrammatic site plan (Image provided by Foster+ Partners) An assessment of the space planning and business units generally identified a property team requirement of approximately 20 people, a sub-business unit of 68 people or approximately one floor of the building and a business unit of three floors or approximately 204 people. These statistics became the basis for the buildings architectural design. With these criteria and based on this sustainability theme and the sizes of the various business units, Foster + Partners explored various floor plate configuration and layouts for consideration by EnCana. Each of these configurations was studied for net to gross building efficiencies, functionality, economics and aesthetics. Pictured below are some of the final contestants in the design process, along with options to the vertical profile of the building.

Floor plate options and building models (Image provided by Foster+ Partners)

As a result of EnCanas office culture, there was a significant requirement for perimeter offices for their staff as opposed to the recent trends in office layouts with seas of office cubicles or systems furniture. Conversely interior areas were needed in order to provide meeting rooms, support facilities or copier rooms, high density filing areas and the like. Where the size requirements of the meeting spaces exceeded the available interior space, these were accommodated at neighbourhood meeting areas within the atrium space. These larger meeting room areas also incorporated refreshment areas and green spaces. The interior planning of how three seperate team units clusters into a sub-business group (one floor) which congregate into business groups (3 floors) can be seen in the three block diagrams below.

Office floor layering The most typical office floor is shown below, with the elevator banks shown in a side core position clustered with the washrooms and the north facing stairs. As a result of stair separation requirements and EnCanas desire to utilize the exit stairs as inter-floor communication stairs, mini-finger cores were created with the stairs and vertical MEP risers and shaft space servicing the access floor under floor duct mechanical distribution system. The shape selected also had the benefit of minimizing the length of the perimeter and interior wall system surrounding the atrium area.

Typical office floor space planning



In early discussions regarding the selection of the structural system, it was determined that the bulk of the building structure would be reinforced concrete on composite steel deck with structural steel framing. This material option was selected because of the size of the columns, the speed of construction, and the limitations on the local concrete formwork industry with respect to the availability of labour and carpenter forces. An option to supplement the structural steel with cast in place concrete was carried through the design to almost the end of the Design Development stage. The gravity load carrying system of the building was affected by the need to minimize the height of the building. The location of the building is just south of the Bow River in Calgary. As a result of this location the urban guidelines prepared by the municipality required that the building be low enough to avoid shadowing the river during the September equinox period. As a result interior columns were added to the floor plate so that beam depths could be restricted to a maximum of W460 (W18) beam depths. The figure below shows the layout of the interior gravity columns.

Internal layout of gravity columns

We considered many options with respect to lateral load resisting system of the building from an interior core system (supplemented by secondary cores at the fingers), perimeter systems and hybrid systems utilizing the perimeter and the interior core. These options are indicated below.

Central core position within the tower footprint This interior core option resulted in excessively thick reinforced concrete walls and an excessive steel braced system because of the height of the building. The height to core aspect ratio was at 15:1. This was further compounded because of the dead load drift issue which was a result of the side core position of the core. Generally floor loading occurred only on the inboard side of the building with only the cladding and north scissor stairs loading the north side of the core. Even in the structural steel core scheme the resolution of the gravity load drift issue was responsible for an excessive tonnage of steel for this purpose alone. In the perimeter systems the selection included closely spaced steel columns, and various layout options including closely spaced columns and diagonal bracing schemes as represented by the following:

Closely spaced perimeter columns

Core with mega-diagonals wings

Continuous perimeter diagonals

Hybrid System

These were interpreted by Foster + Partners including options which expressed the structure in the architectural appearance. The curvilinear geometry, also had local impacts on the cladding design and interior space planning issues. Some of the architectural interpretations are shown below:

Architectural interpretations of structural options (Image provided by Foster+ Partners) Hybrid options included activating outrigger frames and belt trusses at the garden floors which occur approximately every twelve floors. This option was developed utilizing full floor trusses at the top floors of the atrium areas which also contained a large MEP plant area as well as the mechanical equipment rooms for the elevator lift areas. This system while structurally efficient negatively impacted the use of the floors. It was determined that the elevator lift MER rooms and the MEP plant areas required less that 40 percent of these floors. The tenant space planning effectively did not permit the use of a full floor truss or a space interrupted by large diagonal elements Therefore, variations of the schemes represented by the figure below where dismissed as a result of space planning inefficiencies and obstacles.

Outrigger belt truss option The largest wind load on the building generally hits the building from the north-west or south-east. This broadside loading generally hits the building where the depth possible depth of the structure is the smallest. We proposed at the conceptual stage an internal diagonal element which would reach from the core to the outside by the atrium over a six storey diagonal. While the floor by floor impact of this diagonal was relatively small it proved to be unacceptable for the tenants space planning.

Exploded view of components of the hybrid systems Ultimately the perimeter diagonal grid system represented by the diagrammatic representation shown above was selected. This decision was made based on economics of the steel framing scheme, the functionality of the tenant space and the aesthetics of the architecture. Ultimately the perimeter diagonal grid system represented by the diagrammatic representation shown above was selected. This decision was made based on economics of the steel framing scheme, the functionality of the tenant space and the aesthetics of the architecture. The lateral system therefore consists of four principal components: 1. At the north-west and north-east sections of the perimeter of the building six-storey high diagonal grids are facetted along the perimeter. 2. These diagonal grid elements are connected through the core with a series of braced frames between the elevators and the north stairs. 3. Along the south atrium screen wall face a similar six-storey diagonal grid spans outside of the atrium and is connected to the bulk of the building by drag-struts at the ends of the atrium. 4. These two dominant diagonal grid elements are connected at the ends of the finger areas with a series of rigid frames. The four elements generally occur at the perimeter of the building. Because of the nature of the six storey diagonal grid, there was an issue of the global stability of the building between the node levels. To achieve the secondary stability, bracing was added with a wall of the finger core throughout the height of the building. Added bracing at the back of the elevators was required in the lower 24 floors to supplement this secondary bracing.

Layout of floor with perimeter lateral system indicated

Expression of the diagonal elements of the atrium screen wall



The atrium screen wall was a very dramatic element in the architectural design of this area as it was exposed to all EnCana staff. Structurally the wall was important as the diagonal grid was involved in completing or closing the perimeter lateral load resisting system. Complicating the structural aspects of the screen wall was the large unsupported length of the compression elements and the tendency of the screen wall to attract gravity load from adjacent floor plates. The design options included rectangular shaped steel elements, round pipe (with possible concrete fill) and triangular shaped steel elements. Various studies were carried out the three options including the impacts on aesthetics, on intrusion into the atrium, on ease of connection, support of secondary mechanical electrical and plumbing systems, support of the perimeter curtain wall, as well as the fire proofing system, and constructability of the structural system. On a cost of material basis the round pipe with flange plate splices proved to be the least structural cost but with consideration of the other aspects particularly the aesthetics a decision was made to utilize the triangular shaped elements. These elements are shown in the following BIM figures.

Diagonal grid node (Image provided by Foster+ Partners)

Rendering of the atrium looking at the screen wall



The design and construction schedule requirements of the project had an aggressive time schedule. As a result, the client decided to bid the structural steel with a unit price contract format based on drawings and specification which were at a Schematic Design complete phase. The design at this bid stage was based on the six-storey basement being constructed of reinforced concrete with the structural steel commencing at the ground floor level. Decisions by the project managers and the construction managers led to the incorporation of the structural steel to start from the raft foundation and with the concrete basement framing following after the steel was erected at grade. The steel was also extended most of the north block to provide umbrella steel to assist in the structural steel erection of the tower over the deep basement. The intent was for the tower steel to proceed above, while the slower paced reinforced concrete basement backfilled off the main critical path schedule. To achieve this up-down construction, the lowest lifts of columns were augmented with tie down anchors into the raft design for the lower level floors. Added bracing located within the basement area was reinforced to support the building until such time as the permanent below grade shear walls and ground floor diaphragm could be constructed. In some cases this temporary bracing was embedded within the final shear wall construction.

BIM model indicating ground floor and apron construction (Image provided by SWJV)

BIM model of the atrium and construction apron (Image provided by SWJV)

The construction logistics developed by the fabricator and erector required the general office area with the service core and outside finger cores to be constructed in advance of the atrium screen wall. This base construction could be used to establish the column and diagonal grid node locations to facilitate the erection of the long diagonal members of the atrium screen. Unlike conventional structures with a reinforced concrete or structural steel core, the perimeter system of the diagonal grid did not have the advantage of a central erection base to which the perimeter framing could be anchored and adjusted. It was also anticipated that the erection of the atrium screen wall would take longer than erecting the office portion due to the 10.2 meter offset of the atrium wall from the edge of slab of the office space. In design studies it had been found that a strong core scheme triggered a dead load drift of the tower as a result of the side core location not using the strong core saved steel tonnage. To achieve the erection of the atrium screen wall at a later date, temporary frames were constructed to span the atrium plenum at various levels as a means of stabilizing the entire wall. These temporary frames were removed and re-used as the construction of the atrium wall progresses up the height of the building. Generally the atrium wall erection was approximately six storeys behind the office area construction. This delay in the atrium wall erection also helped to avoid some of the gravity load creep from the office areas which would happen with a structure of this nature. 6. CONCLUSION As of January 2009, the structural steel erection has been completed to grade with the tower framing proceeding to the sixth floor in a staggered profile. The present schedule has the tower structural steel topping off in 2010 with the early occupancy of the building scheduled for 2011. From our perspective, this unique building will prove to satisfy of the vision and objectives that EnCana Corporation had when then they entered into this venture. The unique aspects of the project on the structural side include the lateral system of the building, the exposed atrium screen and the construction logistics.

Below grade column cans and bracing

View from north west at grade

BIM model of the tower from south west