Following up our historic look back at Calgary’s skyline over the last 100 years, we examine the 10 buildings that have stood out the most through the years, namely those that were, are, or will be, the city’s tallest.

Fairmont Palliser Hotel

Calgary tallest buildings Palliser Hotel Calgary-2 Photo: Wikimedia

Years tallest: 1914 — 1958
Height: 197 feet, 12 stories
Current ranking: Unknown (well outside the top 50)
Interesting facts: While it was under construction, suggested names for the hotel included the Adanac, Golden West, Pride of the West, Crowfoot, Piedmont, Swastika and Royal Mary. The name Palliser was eventually chosen in honour of Captain John Palliser, leader of the famed British expedition responsible for exploring Western Canada between 1857 and 1860. The hotel was so popular with some guests that a few took up permanent residence, most notably the 11th Prime Minister of Canada, Calgary-born RB Bennett, who lived in room 760.

Elveden Centre

Elveden Centre Elveden Centre Photos: Calgary Public LibraryWikimedia

Years tallest: 1958 — 1968
Height: 262 feet, 20 stories
Current ranking: Unknown (like the Palliser, also well outside the top 50)
Interesting facts: Cost $5 million to build, which, adjusted for inflation, would be just over $41 million today.

Calgary Place I

951884dd1dd74c2f9551d97f257fc64d Photo: Avison Young

Years tallest: 1968 — 1973
Height: 361 feet, 30 stories
Current ranking: 42nd
Interesting fact: Calgary Place I is connected to the city’s Plus 15 pedestrian network, which links the tower to all major office buildings in the Central Business District, a factoid that’s about as dull as the building’s design.

Altius Centre

Calgary tallest buildings-3 Photo: dalmond/Flickr

Years tallest: 1973 — 1974
Height: 415 feet, 32 stories
Current ranking: 33rd
Interesting fact: With an adjoining parkade comprised of 257 stalls, the Altius Centre has one of the highest parking ratios of any building in the downtown core. Something to consider the next time you’re driving around aimlessly looking for a space.

Bow Valley Square 2

Bow Valley Square 2 tallest buildings in Calgary Photos: Oxford PropertiesDillan K/Flickr

Years tallest: 1974 — 1976
Height: 469 feet, 39 stories
Current ranking: 23rd
Interesting fact: Like other buildings on this list, Bow Valley Square II was the tallest building in Western Canada at the time of completion.

Scotia Centre

calgary tallest buildings-2 rogers building calgary Photos: Doug Zwick/Flickr, Dave Smith/Flickr

Years tallest: 1976 — 1982
Height: 509 feet, 41 stories
Current ranking: 18th
Interesting fact: Was designed by WZMH Architects, the same firm that imagined Toronto’s CN Tower, as well as Calgary’s Suncor Energy Centre and Bow Valley developments.

First Canadian Centre

Calgary tallest buildings calgary tallest building (2) Photos: Kevin Cappis/FlickrPaul/Flickr

Years tallest: 1982 — 1984
Height: 548 feet, 41 stories
Current ranking: 13th
Interesting fact: Original plans called for a two-tower complex, with the second being an impressive 64 stories. However, an economic downturn put an end to that proposal and it wasn’t until 2013 that a second, scaled-back tower of only 28-stories was finally approved.

Suncor Energy Centre I

SEC A view from Canada Tower.  Rain's coming. Photo: Ayrcan/FlickrRich Moffitt/Flickr

Years tallest: 1984 — 2011
Height: 705 feet, 53 stories
Current ranking: 2nd
Interesting fact: The building was often referred to as Red Square in its early years, a derisive reference to its primary occupant Petro-Canada, which was a Crown corporation at the time.

The Bow

SONY DSC Photo: Dezene Huber/Flickr

Years tallest: 2011 — present
Height: 774 feet, 58 stories
Current ranking: 1st
Interesting fact: Is the tallest building in Canada outside of Toronto and will remain as such until 2018 when construction on Brookfield Place Tower One wraps up. (Will fall to number three on the list if the City of Edmonton approves the 71-storey Edmontonian proposal.)

Brookfield Place Calgary Tower One

Calgary's tallest building Photo: Brookfield Office Properties

Years tallest: 2018 — ?
Height: 810 feet, 56 stories
Current ranking: Under construction
Interesting fact: As the National Post explains, it’s no small irony that Brookfield Place will beat out the Bow for the title of Calgary’s tallest tower. Brookfield Place’s primary tenant, energy giant Cenovus, split off from the Bow’s lead tenant, EnCana Corporation, in 2009. EnCana now manages natural gas assets, while its onetime offspring oversees oil development.

Notable exclusion: The Calgary Tower

Calgary tower tallest building Photo: Calgary Public Library

Years tallest: 1968 — 1983
Height: 626 feet
Current ranking: 6th
Interesting fact: We didn’t include the Calgary Tower in our ranking because, as a free-standing tower with no relevant floor count, it stands outside the skyscraper category. It was, however, the world’s tallest free-standing tower when it first opened. A title it was able to hold onto for a time because the developers lied about its height during construction, claiming it would be only 614 feet tall and thus preventing competing projects from surpassing it. More interesting facts and photos on Calgary’s most iconic building this way.

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