Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Places

Buildings

Great West Life Building II

Address:100 Osborne Street North
Constructed:1983
Architects:Smith Carter
Skidmore, Owings, Merrill
Firms:Smith Carter
Skidmore, Owings, Merrill

More Information

Appearing as a massive, square five-storey block of the Great West Life II is a quintessential Winnipeg example of late modern architecture. The structure is clad largely in Manitoba Tyndall stone, tying it visually to its neighbour, the Moody Moore and Partners designed Great West Life Headquarters (80 Osborne Street North) of 1957-59; this link is underscored by the large red-granite portal to the 100 Osborne Street North which echoes the use of coloured stone in earlier headquarters facility. In the newer building the Tyndall stone cladding is arranged to create an exaggerated post-and-lintel effect on each of its four facades, the spaces enclosed by this material populated by large glazed areas which inset on the east and west sides to create grand and somewhat cavernous entry spaces. Overall the effect is somewhat hyperbolic, a sense of amplified drama which places the design within a late modern stream of design. The structure is linked to 80 Osborne Street North underground by passages that also connect to a triangular underground atrium containing an employees' cafeteria. As with the interior of the main building this space houses greenery and mirrored areas which, along with all of the glass walls, serve to blur the distinction between the out of doors and the interior.

Design Characteristics

  • Triangular underground atrium with employees' cafeteria
  • Tyndall stone exterior
  • Granite entryway

Sources

  • Lasker, David. "Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: Bigtime Architecture Comes to Winnipeg." Border Crossings 3, 1 (November 1983): 56-61.