The three iconic towers of Elveden Centre have had a place in the Calgary skyline since the 1960s. The block-long complex has a unique history that represents much of Calgary’s history, particularly in association with the oil and gas industry. The building is an important part of Calgary’s past and it has a special place as the city is redefining itself.
A subsidiary company, British Pacific Building Ltd., owned by the Guinness family of Ireland (yes, the family of Guinness Brewery) initiated the build after a major discovery of oil in Leduc, Alberta in 1947. Prior to this, during the Great Depression, Calgary wasn’t heavily populated and was growing and building at a conservative pace. With the oil industry developing and a by-law restriction of building to only two stories amended in 1958 to allow building to a maximum of 20 stories, the Edmonton based architecture company Rule Wynn and Rule was hired to build the oil-industry block-long hub. The three towers were built in phases. The first tower, today’s central tower, Elveden House, was named from the Suffolk estate of the Guinness family. The cornerstone was laid down on October 14th, 1960. The 3rd Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden, Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness (1937-1992) lay the cornerstone, accounting for the name of the second tower, Iveagh House, which was completed in 1962. In 1964, the third tower, Guinness House, was completed. At the time, it was the tallest structure in Calgary.
Elveden Centre is an exemplary piece of modernist architecture, which was quickly becoming popular and is considered the most important style of architecture and design of the 20th century. Features of modernist architecture include: the use of geometric forms, an emphasis on horizontal lines, reinforced concrete, curtain walls, ribbon windows, neutral palettes, and open plans that are light filled. The bridging atrium that connects the three towers and the design of the exterior have these modernist hallmarks of the time.
Estancia Investments Inc. has proudly owned Elveden Centre for 24 years. It is a privilege to take care of a historic treasure of Calgary. It is especially rewarding to play a role in the personal lives of Calgarians and their dream to build and grow their Calgary based businesses. The buildings three towers have evolved to represent three pillars of the strength of Calgary – its fascinating past, redefining present, and promising future.
Modernism in Architecture. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.architecture.com/explore-architecture/modernism#
Discover Historic Calgary resources. City of Calgary. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.calgary.ca/PDA/PD/Pages/Heritage-planning/Discover-Historic-Calgary-resources.aspx?dhcResourceId=470