Architects: Balbi Dorosz Architects

1911 / 1961

Schematic rendering of the residential buildings that stood here, according to the footprintS indicated on the 1911 and 1961 fire insurance maps.

Fung Lan Ng (Owner of the Ng Tower) and Jeff (Fung Lan’s son-in-law)

+ Tell me about your background.
I was born in Toishan, and I have 3 kids. Regarding the mission of the building, my husband was an artist, so he’s always been a supporter of the arts.

Before my husband and I bought this land, we wanted to build apartments.

+ When was this building constructed?
It was built in 1979, and construction took just over one year.

+ Who are the current tenants and users of this building?
There’s a lot of multicultural tenancy now. It used to be 100% Chinese when the building was first built, and mostly seniors, but over the years it’s become very multicultural with different ethnicities and ages. There are a good number of families now. 

View of Ng Tower from the Oi Kwan Foundation / Wai Kwan Manor, 2020.

There’s no 13th floor.
Floors 3 – 14 are residential floors (without the 13th), and over 100+ tenants over 11 floors.
The 1st floor is the main commercial floor.
On the second floor is a daycare.

+ What was on this land before this building was built?
How was the land acquired?
There were small houses on this land. There could have been up to five. The owner bought them one by one. There’s one 50’ lot and four 25’ lots. 

+ Who lived in these houses?
Both white and Chinese folks.

“Ironically, due to his family’s mistrust of hospitals, [Roddy] Mah was delivered in his grandmother’s house on 2nd Avenue, where the Ng Tower now stands in Chinatown.” — Calgary Herald, February 5th, 2000

+ Who is the architect for this building?
Rick Balbi (also the architect for the Sunrise Apartments / Freemasons Building.)

+ Can you tell me about the history behind the building’s design development and about the construction process?
Fung Lan: My husband designed the building. He wanted Chinese motifs in it, and wanted the building to look Chinese / Asian. It was probably about 15 years ago when they were going to do exterior work that the City suggested that they maintain the Chinese motifs.

Jeff: My father-in-law went to great lengths to maintain the Chinese character, both on the exterior and the interior. He was a math teacher and an artist and started an artist association here for Chinese artists, which sponsored people from abroad to come live here. He had an art studio in the back of the building. In the interior lobby, Chinese tiles were brought over from China. He (Yook Sum Ng) worked with the architect closely to design the building. 

+ Do you know of any major renovations or changes to the building since it was first constructed?
The building exterior has been well-maintained. The finishes have retained the same look; as the old materials have deteriorated, they have been replaced with modern materials.


Photographs taken in 2020.