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Firm: Dominion Construction

Address: 444 7 Avenue SW

Date: 1958

Status: altered beyond recognition in 1995

When it was completed in 1959, the Bentall Building was Calgary's largest office, but was soon surpassed by the Elveden Centre. Curiously, almost nothing has been written about it in the literature on Calgary's architectural history. The building was built by Dominion Construction, a Vancouver-based company the Bentall family had owned since 1915. Calgary's Bentall Building was third so-named structure in Western Canada. The first was built in Vancouver in 1950 at the 999 West Pender. It was demolished in 1984 to make way for the Commerce Place complex. The second Bentall Building was constructed in Edmonton at 10180 102 Street in 1956. Designed by Rule Wynn and Rule, it was demolished around 1991. After the Calgary building in 1959, Bentall built offices in Victoria in 1962, and a new four-tower complex in Vancouver in 1967. The main tenant was Standard Oil of Indiana (aka Stanolind, Pan American Petroleum, and Amoco) which occupied all of floors 7-10. Other tenants included Price-Waterhouse, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Might Saucier and Associates. The Bentall Building remained Amoco's headquarters until the completion of the new Amoco Centre in 1988.

The Calgary building was 130' deep along 3 Street, and 115' long on 7 Avenue. At ten storeys, it had almost 150,000 square feet of office space. In 1964 the owners built an extension on the west side that pushed it all the way to 4 Street, roughly doubling the square footage. When the IBM Building was completed in 1969, a connecting walkway was constructed between it and the Bentall extension. From the mid-1970s on it was called the Amoco Building.

In his book Suburban Modern, Robert Stamp describes its later history. In 1995, the Bell Investment Management Corporation (Bimcor) stripped the building back to its skeleton and rebuilt the façade (page 43). The result was an ugly po-mo block that was out of fashion a decade after it was built.

The building was designed by Dominion, but I don't know who the individual architect was. I also have no idea where the plans are and haven't found an archival fonds for Dominion.

In the model below I've made a handful of changes to the building as it was constructed, to account for what were, in my opinion, major design flaws. The overall concept remains the same.

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