University of Calgary

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Local knowledge contributed to international design

By Matthew Fox

When EnCana Corp. and architectural firm Foster + Partners unveiled the design of the energy company’s new Calgary headquarters last fall, Eric Baczuk, BSc’05, was already intimately familiar with the project. After all, the environmental sciences grad worked as an intern architect for the designer in London, England last summer.

“As the only Calgarian at the firm, they would often come to me with questions only I could answer—so I felt like a valued member of the team,” Baczuk says. For instance, he enlightened his colleagues on such issues as: what parts of downtown are heavily occupied in the evenings versus business hours? Who uses the C-train, and at what times? Who is Tim Horton?

Named The Bow for its crescent shape and panoramic views of the Bow River Valley, the building will set environmental sustainability standards for Canadian office towers. Its aerodynamic design and numerous innovations should reduce its energy consumption by 30 percent compared to a conventional tower.

“Calgary is not yet renowned for its environmental policies or ‘green’ buildings,” Baczuk says. “It was exciting to be involved with such a benchmark development for the city.”

Baczuk is pursuing his master’s in architecture at Dalhousie University in Halifax and will spend the summer in Paris at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, researching how thermal efficiency of glazing can be improved for the urban environment. Next fall, he’ll participate in a NAFTA-organized sustainable housing and community consortium at the University of Texas at Austin. In January 2008, he hopes to return to England and Foster + Partners.

In late 2010, when EnCana’s 59-storey glass and steel structure is complete, Baczuk will be able to witness The Bow’s impact on his hometown’s skyline and, more significantly, on other design projects in Calgary.

“I hope it becomes a symbol of innovative environmental design and something that I’ll be able to look upon for the rest of my life and say ‘I helped design that building’,” he says.