‘Sky bridge’ part of vision
‘Hole’ in 3 Eau Claire to transform skyline
On his first visit to Calgary, a South Korean developer was so taken with the beauty of the Bow River, he decided to construct an iconic condo project to celebrate.
James Hong Park “thought it was the most beautiful river walk he’d been on in the world,” says Bruce McKenzie of NORR Architects Planners in Calgary. “He just felt like he needed to buy some land here and do something.”
When Park discussed his vision for the building with the architects, McKenzie says Park told a story to help illustrate his concept.
“He said he once bought a 747 jet in Seattle and flew it to South Korea,” says McKenzie. “He said, ‘I put it on a river and turned it into a restaurant. Since I’ve done that, there has been a lineup 24 hours a day to get into this restaurant.’”
Park told the architects that this is what he wanted for his building in Calgary — he wanted something so beautiful that “people will line up to buy it,” says McKenzie.
To be called 3 Eau Claire, the iconic 651,00-square-foot structure is to be located near the Peace Bridge.
It will redefine the Calgary skyline through double glass towers of 48 and 40 storeys joined by a sky bridge.
The mixed-use project will see ground-level retail space with office space in the 12-storey, 200,000-squarefoot podium, says Andrew Sung-Jin Lee, junior project manager with 3 Eau Claire Developments Inc.
The developer is a consortium made up of Solex Planning of South Korea, Calgary-based Starnes Consulting and Ino Architects of Atlanta, Ga.
The podium will be connected to the Plus-15 system.
The two glass towers rising from the podium will have residential condo space up to about the 45th-floor penthouse, with some more elevation above to house mechanical needs.
The 48-storey east tower is taller than the 40-storey west tower, allowing for a graceful curve of glass above the bridge.
“Our original idea was the two towers were embracing, so we connected them at the top,” says McKenzie.
“We had more of a twisty top to the building, but we had to lose that because it was too complicated to work out the structure on our computers.”
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“Now I think the building is more about the void than it is about the connection.”
“The hole in the building is pretty cool. It frames the view both of downtown through it to the river, and vice versa from the other way.”
The elevators run down the sides of the towers that face each other, instead of through the middle of the towers, so people will have a view outside as they move up and down.
An example of joined towers in the city is the Hotel Le Germain Calgary, which combines hotel, office space and condos in the bridge linking the buildings.
But this project is much smaller than 3 Eau Claire, where the view from the sky bridge will be much more dramatic because of its location in the transition zone from mixed use to residential, along with downtown skyscrapers to the river valley.
Beyond creating a landmark building, the two towers of 3 Eau Claire will bring more sun and view exposures to each of the units.
The floor plate, or size of each level, will be about 6,500 square feet, whereas the average midto highrise condo has a floor plate of between 7,500 and 8,000 square feet, says Lee.
The smaller footprint for each level means the condos can be wider on the window side, as well as being more shallow depth-wise than they otherwise might be.
“After the recession, affordability went down and everyone suffered,” says Lee. “The trend in big cities was for unit sizes to become smaller. At the same time, when the units are smaller, the trade-off is to make those units highly efficient.”
The one-bedroom units are about 500 square feet, while the two-bedroom units are 650 to 850 square feet and up.
The lower floors of the towers will start with about 10 units per floor, with fewer units on each level as the floor plate narrows near the top of the towers.
The sky bridge will connect the towers starting at the 36th floor.
There will be condos in the sky bridge for four floors, with about four units on each floor.
At the 40th floor, the bridge will open for the owners’ sky lounge, which will contain a soaring ceiling to create a four-storey, curved atrium.
The curve of the atrium’s roofline from the lower west tower arching to the taller east tower lends itself to the idea of an embrace.
“It’s going to develop its own sensibilities to people that look at it,” says McKenzie.
“For some people, it will be a union or a solid-void thing. For others, the connection at the top will be more significant when you see the building from far away.”
Decisions are still being made about what the atrium space will look like and whether other amenities, such as a fitness centre, will be part of it.
McKenzie is talking to the owners about developing a “winter garden” in the atrium.
“We’re talking about a garden of solitude, a quiet place to go,” he says.
“Calgary is such a hustle-bustle town. We need more places like this. We’re talking more of a quiet, more Japanese-type garden.”
Portico Design Group of Vancouver is developing the interior look with an eye to a simple, modern and contemporary feel.
One of the last decisions the group is making is the colour of glass to use — clear or with a hint of blue, says McKenzie.
Sales are expected to begin in the fall. Priority registration can be made at 3eauclaire.ca.
A sketch of the project as it first appeared with a different top.