Maintaining the design integrity of a Canadian institution

The Bank of Canada wanted to create seamless, collaborative and flexible spaces for their 1,400 employees at their existing head office, originally designed in 1970 by renowned architect Arthur Erickson.

Interior Designer: Janine Grossman, ARIDO

Design Team: Joanne D’Silva, ARIDO

Design Firm: Perkins + Will

Photographer: Double Space Photography­­

The vision was to transform the building into a series of agile and contemporary work spaces that supported organizational efficiencies and provided technology-enabled spaces. To meet this vision, the project team created a design that was based on the guiding principles of openness, transparency and workplace effectiveness and embedded flexibility and resiliency into their design interventions.

The design team maintained the integrity of the original 1970’s design by finding opportunities in the 835,000 square foot space to re-frame the original elements of the building within a modern context.

The central atrium was transformed into vibrant amenity and workspace that included collaborative lounges, food and beverage services, and multi-purpose conference facilities. By allowing people to work in the atrium, organizational silos and spatial hierarchies were broken in favour of a more integrated workplace which transformed the Bank’s culture.

Within the twin glass towers, the design team developed a modular office design, sympathetic to the existing concrete pillars, a character-defining element of the 1970’s towers. The design team worked closely with key internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the character-defining elements of the original project were preserved and enhanced. The result was a bright and interconnected workplace that enhanced the culture of an iconic Canadian institution.

Independent expression and creative freedom in retail

For outerwear brand Moose Knuckles, a desire to engage with customers beyond wholesale led to their transition into proprietary retail shops. Their first store, in Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, had to personify the idiosyncratic brand for customers in unapologetic pursuit of independent expression and creative freedom.

Interior Designer: Diego Burdi, ARIDO

Design Team: Tom Yip, ARIDO

Design Firm: Burdifilek

Project Photographer: Ben Rahn

The Canadian retailer enlisted Burdifilek to capture the brand’s attitude in visceral moments of expression. Eschewing traditional design cues in retail for a modern rebellion in this showroom-meets-experience concept, that has now become extremely popular. Daring to be open and unexpected, the anti-brand space redefines opulence from the entrance, where the view into the store is purposefully obstructed by a steel form disguising the cashpoint and change room. Constraining views into the shop drives curiosity and sets the tone for the rest of the customer experience.

Limited edition products are displayed as a silhouette against a glowing backdrop along one side of the shop while the opposite wall is wrapped in cold-rolled steel for the depth of its industrial properties.

Coats hang from a central rack, wrapped in fur and hung by leather straps from the ceiling. The shadowed contents of an exposed stockroom quietly add intrigue throughout the rest of the store. The strong juxtaposition of the manufactured garments versus organic polish accentuates the beauty of Moose Knuckles’ products.

This unique space exists to unify their customer base, where the open concept store becomes a place for conversation and community, for bonds to form and accidental synergies arise.

A Stunning Lobby Transformation Into A Functional and Modern Interior

Every now and then a project comes along that we know will be challenging but we cannot wait to roll up our sleeves and figure out the best way to approach the design and provide the client with the best option possible for their needs.

Interior Designer: Vitorhya Shields, ARIDO
Team Members: Marley Roppolo, Intern ARIDO; Amanda Tsui, Intern ARIDO
Design Firm: Shields and Associates Interior Design Consultants
Photographs: S+A
Contractor: HiTower Contracting

This beautiful lobby at 140 Simcoe is one of those projects. The high traffic lobby at this upscale condo building in the heart of downtown Toronto needed an upgrade for several reasons. With 50% Airbnb rental units, luggage rolling in or out, and a large volume of deliveries each day we had to rethink the entire layout of the lobby and reorganize it for better security, flow of visitors and deliveries, and storage of luggage and packages. The existing space was dark, heavy and dowdy; nothing like a modern building should be. The aesthetic we were asked to create was a fresh, bright, modern, energetic vibe with a vision for low maintenance and longevity of materials.  

The security desk was removed and a new one was built in the optimal location for the guard to be able to follow everybody coming in and out while never missing a package delivery. The concierge can even retrieve stored packages without losing sight of the entry and elevators. The desk is also large enough to accommodate two staff at the busiest times of day and year. 

The security desk was designed with a dropped counter for barrier free service. The transaction top, guard side monitor wells and movement spaces all accommodate barrier free height and space requirements and under the building code. 

One of the biggest challenges of this project was moving the security desk while keeping the security systems intact throughout the process. The second major challenge of renovating a busy lobby is keeping the traffic flowing while safely removing all the existing floor tile. We worked with our clients to communicate the process and daily schedules to the condominium residents to reduce surprises and keep everybody informed about all the inconveniences. 

We collaborated with the building security company to keep all the cameras and enter phone systems operational, with Canada Post for relocating the mail room and new mailboxes, and with the contractors for all the daily materials deliveries and garbage removal within a tiny loading space. This is one of our incredibly successful projects combining effective function and gorgeous aesthetic. 

Staying Organized – And Other Ways To Keep It Together

Feeling stressed because you’re surrounded by stuff? That stuff can actually make you happy if it’s efficiently and artistically displayed.  And when organized properly, you can grab and go.  Technology has helped reduce or eliminate the need for some stuff, like books and record albums, but we still need to store the items that we do collect.

Storage, home organization or space solutions – whatever you call it – has become a science using the latest technology. For example Richelieu has teamed up with Panasonic to create revolving closet systems and shelves that pull down and return pneumatically, providing innovative ways to make our lives easier.

 START RIGHT – GET ORGANIZED

Whether you’re living in a tiny studio or a mansion, many of the same rules apply when it comes to getting organized: 

  • Purge: Get rid of things you don’t need or that don’t give you pleasure in some way.
  • Learn to make sacrifices:  In a small or large space, every object matters.  Real estate is expensive and learning how to use that real estate, means making choices and focus on priorities.
  • Inventory items that need storage and display:  Determine what type of storage or shelving you need and house them accordingly.  Make this scientific by knowing how much linear and square footage space is required.  
  • Design and plan:  Plan where these items are going and then find the design solutions you need to maximize and beautify your space.
  • Planned properly you can achieve maximum benefit in any space.

 DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Storage is divided into three categories: 

  1. In sight and in mind. Open shelving allows us to see what we own, defining our unique personalities. Free standing or bolted to the wall, shelving is simple.  The structure itself can be a design feature, elevating your simple objects into things of beauty. 
  2. Out of sight and out of mind. Closets or storage rooms are enclosed empty spaces.  You can add rods or shelving to suite your requirements.  People are now choosing to turn closets into dressing rooms, enclosing items in cabinetry and revealing only what’s most precious and notable through glass cabinets.  If you own shoes, purses, belts or ties that are beautiful and cost a pretty penny, then why not put them on display like an art object in a glass case?
  3. Combining in and out of sight. Say we’ve opted for open-plan spaces instead of separate rooms for our functions. Even kitchens are now blended in, requiring special thinking on how to manage all its requirements.  While one-room living reveals all, do we really want to show off everything? 

Storage credenzas, shelving and wall units can act as free-standing room dividers to delineate space.  One company that provides unique items is Design Within Reach (DWR).  It is a go-to destination for design sophisticates.  Their variety of cabinets and shelving units are real designer heirloom classics that can make space efficient and extra special.

CUSTOM VS. STANDARD

Each home is unique, not only in structure, but also in the personality and vision of its owner. While standard shelving and storage units are available at most home store, and while you can hack Ikea, it is best to give your storage needs the attention they deserve. Investing in custom built-in storage solutions will enhance the value of your house, much like investing in kitchen or bathroom renovations.

Knowing that everything is in its place and there’s a place for everything helps liberate us from our stuff.

And, that makes all the difference in the world.

 

Bringing Home to Hotel Design at the Kimpton Saint George Hotel

188 guest rooms, fourteen stories, and one common goal: to integrate elements of Toronto’s culture and personality and provide guests with a distinct sense of place. Our team responded to this vision with a design that communicated a narrative of local pride, diverse heritage, and contemporary culture to create the Kimpton Saint George Hotel.  The boutique hotel brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is renowned for individually designed boutique hotels positioned to reflect the cities they inhabit. Completed in 2018, the Saint George Hotel, Kimpton’s only hotel operating in Canada, is situated in the heart of Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. 

Interior Designer: Stanley Sun, ARIDO; Ashley Rumsey, ARIDO
Design Firm: Mason Studio
Design Team: Marti Hawkins, Intern, ARIDO

Project Photographer: Naomi Finlay

Its design celebrates Toronto’s layered history and sensibilities. An investigative approach was taken to dissect and analyze the city’s vernacular to better understand key materials,  patterns, and nuances that would resonate as indicators of local culture and significance. The diversity of the city’s heritage and culture with its distinct neighbourhoods is explored through locally designed furniture, original artwork, natural materials, and strong interior architectural forms that pay homage to Toronto’s varied architectural style and eras. The design concept is expressed in every facet of the hotel, beginning at the street level with an exterior black wood awning punctuated with small pin-like lights, spelling “Kimpton” in Braille lettering. This lighting feature is a subtle nod to the iconic marquee signs that once occupied the neighbourhood.

Upon entry, the reception area features a marble desk framed with wooden arches, backdropped by a hand-painted mural of a misty Toronto-inspired scene. Adjacent to reception is a guest lounge, designed to feel like a living room. The space is occupied by a collection of bespoke furniture, artwork, lighting, and objects, many crafted by local makers that continue to tell the story of local culture and design. A 400-square foot lounge situated on the main floor is realized in darker, more saturated tones to convey a feeling of warmth and intimacy. The adjacent 1,100-square-foot meeting space, named the Peregrine Room, is, by contrast, bright and spacious. The change in mood between the lounge and the meeting room reinforces the concept of distinct neighbourhoods within the city. 

The guestrooms, suites, and generous presidential suite are a continuation of the nostalgic nod to the layered heritage of the neighbourhood. The rooms were designed with a residential approach including a collection of art, custom-designed furniture and lighting, seemingly collected over time. Every element in the suites is carefully designed to provide guests with an experience parallel to a well-appointed apartment in the neighbourhood, offering guests a warm alternative to more traditional hotel accommodations.

This project was also awarded an ARIDO Award of Excellence in 2019.

A data-driven approach provides a fresh path for this design studio

Developed for an interdisciplinary design studio that leads the industry in sustainability and healthy environments, this project was conceived as a transformation not only of a workplace, but of a design environment and culture.

Interior Designer: Janine Grossmann, ARIDO

Design Firm: Perkins and Will

Design Team: Martha Del Junco, ARIDO; Joanne D’Silva, ARIDO; Preethi Sreedhara, Intern, ARIDO; Tsvetelina Rabashki, ARIDO; Diana Smiciklas, ARIDO

Project Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

The client’s move from a previous midtown location was driven by three goals: to improve access and opportunities for active transport for employees, prospective employees, and clients; to strengthen the studio’s connection to the design culture of the city; and to ‘walk the talk’ within a physical environment that embodied sustainable, forward-thinking design excellence.

While occupying a generous footprint, the firm’s existing studio was compromised in form and function. One-size-fits-all workstations didn’t support the full range of behaviours required for an interdisciplinary and creative team, a lack of break-out and meeting spaces limited collaboration, and the character of the space didn’t reflect the brand and culture of the growing firm.

A data-driven approach allowed us to re-imagine the vision, program, and design of the studio while also increasing efficiency. A comprehensive usage analysis of the existing studio showed that less than 60% of workstations were occupied at peak times, more than 80% of meetings involved four people or fewer, and the most common size of meeting was two people. This data, in conjunction with visioning sessions, staff interviews, pilot programs, and prototyping, allowed our design team to guide the client to a radical new program that reduced floor area by almost 25% while dramatically expanding the range of spaces and program offerings.

A small black and white dog sits on a maple leather bench seat inset into the wall. The wall behind the seat has a window into an architectural model shop.

The design leverages the raw qualities of the base building to create an inspiring new environment. The existing space was stripped back to celebrate its robust concrete structure and distinctive waffle slab ceilings, connecting the studio to the city’s modern architectural heritage. Within this shell, a finely-crafted millwork chassis defines three flexible spaces, organizes cellular programming, and provides a refined contrast to the underlying architecture. Integrating glazing, display, storage and pin-up space, the chassis acts as both spatial threshold and showcase for the firm’s process and work.

The open studio is a “ME” space of 54 free-address workstations supported by focus rooms and collaborative space. The Salon is a reconfigurable “WE” space for charrettes, design reviews, and events. The Lounge is the office’s “US” space: a welcoming entry and the social heart of the office. Overall, while the studio’s footprint decreased, the number of seats increased by almost 50% – providing a greater range of supportive environments that allow staff to choose where, when, and how they work.

A timeless and natural material palette reflects the client’s commitment to sustainability and material health: every material used was screened for ingredients with known health impacts, and the project is certified LEED® v4 Gold and Fitwel 2 Star rated. Lush plants and abundant daylight bring nature into a dense downtown location.

The resulting studio is a living laboratory that fuels design innovation and excellence while prioritizing wellness, inclusivity, and sustainability – meeting the client’s programmatic needs while embodying their most important ideas and values.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

Inspiration was locally-sourced for this luxurious downtown Toronto condominium

Situated at the intersection of Toronto’s landmark financial and heritage St. Lawrence Market districts, 88 Scott was an opportunity to create a standout, luxury downtown residence. 

Interior Designer: Kelly Cray, ARIDO

Design Team: Neil Jonsohn, ARIDO; Christianne Barbuto, Intern, ARIDO

Design Firm: U31

Photographer: Jac Jacobson

Standing proud at 58-storeys, this condominium is anything but meek. The towering neoclassical-style structure demanded an interior as impressive as its presence at the corner of Scott and Wellington. The design was largely guided by our client’s directive to take a ‘Canadian Moderne’ approach which involved looking to Canada’s natural landscape for inspiration. The result is an urban oasis that’s rooted in references to nature. 

The experience begins in the 1,500 square foot hotel-style lobby where dark and light coexist to create a dramatic statement. We established a warm and engaging entrance by combining textured and polished stone backgrounds with walnut-paneled walls and screens. Guests are welcomed by Euro-inspired seating that encourages lounging and a double-sided “Ocean Black” slate fireplace that provides a cozy spot for escaping the cold. The fireplace serves as the focal point of the space and overall, contributes to the grand, sophisticated flavour of the lobby.

With the executive demographic target purchaser in mind, we designed a 1,800 square foot business area adjacent to the lobby. This zone contains private workstations, a boardroom, and a lounge for the convenience of residents.

An extensive amenity program was the key to cultivating a luxury lifestyle for 88 Scott’s residents. The amenities are located across the building’s sixth and 46th and 47th split levels (spanning 10,400 square feet total) and include everything from wellness-oriented offerings to entertainment-geared experiences. The sixth floor consists of a fitness centre and a social area featuring a sophisticated party room complete with a kitchen and bar. Unique art pieces animate key areas of the party room: a geometric wood ‘stack’ installation emphasizes the grand fireplace while hand-crafted coffee tables complement lounge seating arrangements.

In the 46th and 47th split level ‘Sky Lounge’ and private dining room, we created a vibrant urban atmosphere by incorporating large windows that frame views of Toronto. By day, the space is bright and airy, while by night, a moodier atmosphere emerges as skyscrapers and Lake Ontario glimmer in the distance. The ‘Sky Lounge’ interior features a combination of raw textures (seen in the wood floors and stone fireplace surround) against more glamorous, fabricated finishes (seen in the mirrored ceiling and lush upholstery fabrics). 

One of the main challenges of designing 88 Scott was delivering a high-end yet cost-effective result. For instance, the lobby chandelier, which was originally quoted from a European manufacturer, had to be substituted by a local supplier to accommodate budgetary constraints. Fortunately, the final result achieved the sumptuousness we had envisioned. 

Challenges continued as the building’s heritage designation required us to leave architectural elements, like windows, untouched. Since we couldn’t alter the imperfect window openings and sill heights, we added white sheer drapery throughout the lobby to disguise the irregularities. 

Since the project’s completion, residents have been taking full advantage of the condominium’s many offerings. The building’s lobby is much more than a spot to wait for an Uber: residents regularly spend time in this space catching up on emails and meeting up with friends before they head out on the town.

This project was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019.

This survivor-led project inspired a new phase of ARIDO’s charitable work

In 2018, ARIDO worked with BridgeNorth as our charity partner for the 2018-19 ROI Project. BridgeNorth exists to address and prevent the unique problems faced by survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. BridgeNorth provides programs to assist with their departure and transition from the sex industry by offering direct service to women, girls, and families affected by the sex industry.

Human trafficking is unfortunately widespread in Canada, with Ontario acting as a hub for the rest of the country, where two-thirds of human trafficking violations taking place here. The average age of young women who are lured and groomed into the industry is 13 years old and 93% of survivors are Canadians.

This project focused on the improvement and refresh of the head office located in York Region. This project was hugely moving and inspiring for the association and every person involved. Unlike previous ROI projects, the design team balanced the creation of a secure environment for clients attempting to exit a trafficked situation and the creation of a more secure space for existing clients. Details as minute as the furniture selection and placement were carefully considered by the design team, to try and prevent triggering of clients. New lockers let clients and staff feel agency and ownership of the space, as well as security of their belongings.

The addition of a shower allows incoming clients to bathe in a dignified and secure environment, something survivors of human trafficking are denied daily, while the creation of a fully functional kitchen provides a space to host cooking classes and offer new life skills to clients, helping them find secure employment outside of the sex industry.

“As designers, our job is to assist clients in creating a space for them that changes or helps the way they work and go to market. In this case, it has been an incredible experience to see and understand what design could do to impact a human experience and to directly impact the clients for the betterment of their lives. Aesthetics assist in the “feel” of the space, but the functionality of the space allows BridgeNorth the tools to reach many more people and help them with their next steps. We have been honoured to work on this project and be witness to this positive change.” Lead Designer, Lucia De Biasio, ARIDO, LDB Design Inc.

“This project has left a lasting impact upon ARIDO, our members, and our industry partners. It has led the ARIDO to shift our ROI objectives from improving an interior environment for a charitable organization to creating greater social impact by means of the Interior Design community. We are now focusing our efforts on leveraging our community and resources to provide a platform for the voices of trafficked Ontarians and raise awareness of this growing crime.” ARIDO Executive Director, Sharon Portelli.

The project would have not been possible without the generous support of ROI partners: Flat Iron Building Group Inc., Brigholme Interiors Group, Mohawk Group and Office Source + SCI Interiors

It was also supported by: 3form, Three H Furniture Systems, AMJ Campbell, Benjamin Moore, Camino Systems, Caplan’s Appliances, CaTech, Choice Office Installations, Daltile, Division9 Commercial Flooring, DPI-Construction, Doner Turrin Inc. EurOptimum, Four Seasons Drywall, Inc., G&P Millwork, Group Lacasse, Haworth, The HIDI Group, HiTek Window Film Solutions, Honeycomb Engineering, Horizon Mechanical Contractors, Impact Electrical & Mechanical Ltd, Keilhauer, Levey Industries Inc., LightArt, Liteline Corporation, Panolam Surface Systems, Paul DaCunha Architect Inc., PowerOp Electrical Contractors, Salex, Shoreway Flooring, Spec Furniture, Trillium Group, POI Business Interiors, Steelcase, Ultimate Decor Ltd.

ARIDO would like to express our deepest gratitude to the support of these companies and their staff, as well as the following people who were part of making the project happen.

Design Team
Lucia De Biasio, LDB Design Inc
Sakshi Kapoor, LDB Design Inc
Leah Watling, LDB Design Inc
Sojung Yoo, LDB Design Inc
Paul Da Cunha, Paul Da Cunha Architects

Fundraising and Donor Procurement Team
Mahesh Babooram, Office Source
Dayna Bradley, Brigholme
Lisa Gushue, Mohawk
Chelsea Powell, Flat Iron
Susan Quinn, Mohawk

Project and Construction Management
Carolyn Brown, DPI Construction Management
Elvio Di Simone, DPI Construction Management
Kevin Minnes, DPI Construction Management

Pre-Programming
Donna Dolan, Kearns Mancini Architects
Jordan Fang, ARIDO Intern Director
Karin Karak, K2 Designworks

Photography
Yianni Tong

Resources about Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking services and supports (Ontario.ca)

Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010
Hotline Website

This government office stands out, instead of blending in

Gone are the days of formulaic government offices, with uninspired gray surroundings for employees, and thank goodness for that!

Using an activity-based design methodology, the LWG design team developed four floors of light-filled space designed within the auspices of the Government of Canada Workplace Guidelines. Using affordable materials in innovative ways allowed us to deliver an economical space that is not short on design details.

Baltic birch plywood figures prominently throughout the space, along with key pops of colour. This space provides a menu of options to support the work that takes place throughout a typical day, including areas for heads-down tasks to spaces for active, boisterous collaboration.

The LWG Design Team for this project included Marc Letellier, ARIDO; Rachel Burdick, ARIDO and Ashley Lepine, Intern, ARIDO.

A desert oasis in Scottsdale

This private residence is situated on prime five-acre property in one of Scottsdale’s premier desert estate communities. Surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west, and vast views of central Scottsdale and Phoenix to the south, the original home was one of the earliest built in this heavily architecturally-controlled community.

Interior Designer: Wayne Swadron, ARIDO
Design Firm: Wayne Swadron Interiors Limited
Project Photographer: Roehner + Ryan

The home’s architectural styling was ‘Tuscan’ in character, although the interior finishes had been updated just prior to the client’s acquiring the property. The design team reconfigured and re-modelled the existing structure and landscape into a contemporary desert oasis while respecting strict local architectural regulations.

With grand design gestures commensurate in scale to the sprawling (largely one storey) structure, the encouragement of the clients, and the monumental contributions of a fabulous local team, the designers achieved all their goals of creating a home replete with contemporary luxury, incorporating design features that promote indoor/outdoor living, while simultaneously respecting the realities of the extreme desert environment.