Finesse Development Corporation


Ft. McMurray. Alberta, Canada


428,200 SF Hotel and Office Complex


Arriving in the center of Fort Mc Murray, one finds an indigenous forest draping over the top of an urban hub. On further inspection, one discovers that the forest blossoms into a vertical garden of exotic plants housed in a green house-atrium. Entitled “Hidden Wonder”, the design is a new hybrid of tower and podium, landscape and architecture. It is an active and multidimensional vertical park that anchors the corner of the block and allows for a combination of urban, indoor/outdoor activities. In the podium, hotel guests have their own private balconies nestled among the forest, while retail and gastronomical visitors get oblique glimpses of the landscape through the skylights; in the tower, office employees are engulfed in an enchanting environment of plants and rooms that capture the beauty of the merging rivers beyond.
The tower uses a textured concrete and glass double skin to produce spectacular optical illusions. The sculptural massing appears and disappears by day and by night reflecting the surroundings and glowing as a beacon in the Northern twilight of Fort McMurray. This “textured double skin” serves as a mechanical device augmenting the building systems of the design by conserving heat through passive solar means and ventilating the building naturally. In addition, the planted roofs serve as an insulating blanket for both the podium and tower as well as a device for gray water retention in the tower. “Hidden Wonder” is a landmark that reflects the optimism of Fort McMurray’s recent economic growth that simultaneously and sensitively captures the mysterious and unique natural surroundings of the city.