A fresh new office 35 years in the making

After operating for 35 years out of an industrial office space, it was time for a functional improvement. DRE Industries acquired a new two storey commercial unit which we had the opportunity to build out.

Interior Designer: Noelle Lekkas, ARIDO 
Design Firm: C3D Design

Our client’s business focus is supplying waterproofing products & other materials for the construction industry. They needed a professional space that they could bring clients into, to present and educate on materials, a sample library, and a space that was overall positive and fun to work in.

The new space features ten-foot ceilings and industrial style fenestration. Our goal was to create a functional, simple, sophisticated and fun space. With our client, we decided on a polished concrete floor with light aggregate in the main areas and used a beautiful lush carpet tile in the offices and boardroom. The entire space was painted white with hits of black accents.

We were able to feature one of our client’s supplier’s material in the space by using Terrazzo on the kitchen counters and backsplash – this added a chance to present their product line in a unique and not so obvious way.

Our approach of using a neutral palette and textural finishes allowed the architectural elements of the space to speak for themselves. Result?  A not-so-boring office, a professional and functional space that evokes a calm and positive energy.

Odeyto provides a home away from home for Indigenous students at Seneca College

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects with Two Row Architects
Project Photographer: Tom Arban

Odeyto, the new home for the First Peoples @ Seneca Newnham Campus, is intended to provide a safe and recognizable space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike while attending Seneca College. Often, Indigenous students have left their home communities for the first time and travelled to unknown urban landscapes to pursue their education. The design of Odeyto (Anishinaabe word for ‘good journey’) reflects and acknowledges this. It was created as a home away from home, a place where students can gather, not only to practice their traditions, but also to find new friendships and family while away from their communities.

Conceptually, the addition and renovation was inspired by the image of a canoe pulling up to a dock — making a stop at Seneca College to gather knowledge before continuing on life’s journey. The addition’s canoe-like form is “docked” alongside the contrasting rigid lines of the existing precast concrete building. As the only building on campus with an organic curvilinear design, the “canoe” has a distinctive presence, announcing its importance through its form.

Exterior view of the Odeyto building.

Striking when viewed from the outside, the building’s curves create a warm, womb-like interior. The structure alludes to the Haudenasaunee longhouse, a traditional reference further reinforced by glass entrances on the east and west, where two red doors, aligned to the summer solstice, honour the missing and murdered indigenous women. The building incorporates aspects of traditional knowledge drawn from many other Indigenous cultures across Turtle Island.

Neon channel sculpture by Joi T. Arcand, 'Don't be shy' in Cree sylabics.

In alignment with sunrise ceremonies common to many Indigenous Nations, the angle of the “canoe” lines up with the rising sun on the summer solstice — an acknowledgement of rebirth, spring, and our connection to the earth. From an architectural point of view, this simple but meaningful move breaks away from the colonial grid that dominates on Seneca’s Newnham Campus.

Wood predominates in the interior, reinforcing the analogy to a canoe. The interior of the building consists of two distinct spaces: The former classroom has been remodeled into a warmly lit work area with a low ceiling, where students can use computers, work with tutors, or speak with a counsellor. Beyond this, in the new purpose-built addition, the main lounge is a generous space for gatherings. Its high, curved ceiling is supported by glue-laminated rib structures. Their connections are visibly expressed, in celebration of the craft and beauty of the building’s construction — much as a birch bark canoe’s beauty is manifested through its construction, not decoration. Thin and light, the 28 glue-laminated ribs resemble the ribs of a canoe or mammal. The number is a nod to the number of days in one cycle of the moon.

The renovation part of this project offers a bridge between the rigours of post-secondary education and the familiarity of culture. It’s a space that provides the necessities of academic life — counsellors’ offices, study space, a place to print — and, at the same time, a safe harbour, a “dock” where a canoe can stay a while.

The design team also worked with advisors from Two Row Architects, a native-owned architecture firm which focuses on “guiding the realignment of mainstream ways of thinking on their journey towards Indigenous ways of knowing, being, design and architecture.“

Panorama of Odeyto interior with students sitting around a table and computers.

Gow Hastings says, “Design features influenced by this knowledge include the structure’s directionality, alignment with celestial cycles, cultural observances, value of materials, tactility, craft, expression of structure, and extension into the surrounding landscape.”

A contemporary space for a contemporary law firm

As Canada’s leading entrepreneurial and transactional business law firm, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP is committed to being a pioneering force for legal practice innovation. Their ambitious culture is what has driven the design team to create a dynamic, contemporary space. The trappings of a typical law firm, dark finishes and little to no collaborative space, were transformed into a modern layout with a colourful palette that exceeded their expectations. The new space was designed for efficiency, allowing each floor to serve multiple purposes while creating seamless traffic flow and connection between lawyers and clients.

Interior Designer: John Tanfield, ARIDO
Design Firm: SGH Design Partners
Design Team: Mireille Metwalli, ARIDO; Jillian Warren, ARIDO
Project Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

A key design challenge was renovating the full three floors to transform the current office into a progressive space that can adapt to the user needs, provide meeting spaces, alternate workplaces, and event space while respecting a set budget. Number one on the client’s list of needs was the pool table that stands proudly in the reception space. It symbolizes the vibrant and charismatic culture that the company has championed from the start, and is visible to anyone who enters the space. A variety of furniture solutions were planned for each floor to encourage employees to move into different working environments throughout the day.

The design team worked on this project from the real estate review process. With that early start, decided to remain in their current office but renovate the space. All three floors were renovated, which modernized the office into a playful yet sophisticated space. The 8th floor is client-facing, dedicated to meetings and events, and designed to make a lasting impression. When arriving at reception, guests are greeted by a bright open space filled with light and texture, created by the sharp angles of the reception desk which contrasts the soft colour palette.

Private meeting rooms surrounded by glazing flank both sides of reception, creating seamless transparency on the 8th floor. Ceiling treatments provide variety and animation of the event space, as well as an illuminated light wall that runs along the length of the reception. The 9th and 10th floors are connected by an existing sculpture-like staircase, which allows lawyers to connect seamlessly and privately. When visitors take their first steps off the elevator they are instantly greeted by an energetic servery designed to encourage conversation. These floors are primarily used for partner and clerk offices, as well as administrative support. Both floors are consistent with the radiant and transparent look and feel of the overall space.

Raw and industrial vibe gets this startup accelerator in top form

DMZ, or Digital Media Zone is a start-up accelerator at Ryerson University, where founders can get support for the next steps with their burgeoning businesses. 

Interior Designer: Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO

Design Firm: PULSINELLI

Photographer: Steve Tsai 

Designed to engage the vibrant, young community of founders, who also need a formal space to host potential customers, investors, and experts, the space balances these two needs in the design. 

The gray wall panelling and minimal aesthetic captures the raw spirit of the start-up culture but is attractive and comfortable for business-minded guests. There are several intimate seating options for guests in the high-traffic reception area which can serve the start-ups in the building. 

A special visual emblem welcomes guests to the DMZ, and also becomes an area where guests can take photos and turn them into shareable moments for social media.

Across from the elevators, we created a large dark wood canopy with an open woven pattern to define the reception and seating area. Dark wood vinyl on the floor under the canopy, contrasts the soft white floor in the rest of the space, and demarcates this cozy nook. 

On the left side of the reception, the waiting area is furnished with colourful seatbelt chairs and concrete coffee tables to further convey the playful and raw nature of the space. 

The space lacks a window, or other natural light source, so the design team added diffused halo lighting around the gray wood wall panelling that wraps the walls. It provides a sense of lightness and visually connects the different areas. 

Movement is added with the reflections created by the oversized, mirrored 3D DMZ signage that is positioned in the main seating area.

An interactive digital bulletin board welcomes guests off the elevators, and is housed in a sculptural wood wall. The natural oak, cut in geometric stripes, also wraps the reception desk, which links the two elements together. 

A secondary lounge area was created beside the corridor that accesses the cafeteria. The wall in the area is cladd with custom upholstered panels to improve the acoustic quality in the space.

To encourage guests to take selfies to share on social media, we introduced the “Toronto Gallery”, a series of white painted 3D letters mounted on the wall panels. The letters spelling Toronto are sliced in half and positioned to be read from the reception area.

The vibrant space reflects the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups and creates a strong identity for DMZ.

Making doing good, doable

The WE Global Learning Centre is a welcoming space designed to foster exploration and learning among youth, designed to embody the organization’s mantra, “WE makes doing good, doable”.

Interior Designer: Karin Karak

Design Firm: k2 designworks inc.

Photographer: Philip Castleton Photography Inc.

The new design of the WE Global Learning Centre incorporates collaborative and inspirational working spaces, cutting-edge technology to sustain an internationally active charity, and provides a venue to shape next-generation leaders in an ecologically sustainable way.

Teams that had previously been isolated from one another were now offered combinations of enclosed offices, open work areas, various meeting and collaborative spaces which encourage greater synergy. Employee wellness is met through design features of ample natural light, calming and neutral palettes, catering to a young employee demographic that thrives on fluid engagement and changing tasks.

Due to the regular need for connectivity with external teams and stakeholders – cutting-edge technology was critical. Staff can now access video conferencing instantly, connecting them locally and abroad. Custom monitors stream original content, a donor wall is fitted with touch-screen navigation, an incubation hub supports entrepreneurs, Skype-supported classrooms offer global outreach, a 200-person amphitheatre can divide into two digital classrooms, and a multimedia control room and recording studio supporting instant content creation.

Throughout the restoration of the historic building’s envelope, the design team took care to return the brick finish and window sizes back to their original state. Inside, exposed brick was accentuated as a design feature, and recycled bricks were used wherever a wall was moved or expanded. The beams, posts, joists, and roof are all original materials and retrofitted in order to maintain the structure’s historic character and reuse the existing resources available.

The building’s automation system represents the latest technology that provides several environmentally respectful initiatives. Throughout all four levels, 39 micro-climates are heated and cooled independently and equipped with motion-sensor controlled lighting and systems that utilize daylight harvesting to reduce energy use.

Design inspiration was also drawn from some of the charity’s social objectives. Carpets sourced were sourced from an organization that partners with fishermen in the Philippines who use discarded nets that larger ships leave on the ocean floor and sell them to carpet manufactures who recycle the material into sustainable carpet flooring.

The building is designed with accessible water refill stations that reduce the need for bottled water. Water conservation facts are listed at each station as an enviro-design feature that tracks the number of plastic bottles saved. After six months of use, the refill stations have saved more than 32,000 plastic bottles.

The Art of Living Big in Small Spaces

City living has always been known as “tight” and “small” living, but not this time around. We call it “the art of living big’, no matter how small the space is. A space is a space, whether big or small, but the design is what introduces an element of fun and creativity.

At Sansa Interiors, we gave this project a soul by creating a way of being. We observed our clients and studied how they move, we found out their interests, their favourite colours, and their top travel destinations. We then took all of that and tailored it to a simple and clean dream apartment.

Our focus was to bring in subtle tones and finishes throughout the space with pops of colour. We experimented with manipulating positive and negative spaces to create a flow from one corner to the other.

The home office showcases the contrast between the clean white walls and the soft yet bold blush pink gallery wall and adjacent furniture. The furniture selection is very minimal and does not interfere with the ambient flow, instead, it helps create a successful grounding experience.

Some of the requirements we were given:

  1. Home office for two people
  2. A reading nook
  3. Clean/simple kitchen
  4. A place to retreat at the end of the day

Design Tips for Living Big:

  1. Mirrors near windows
  2. The more plants the better!
  3. A subtle colour palette with accent pieces to bring in pops of colour
  4. Minimal furniture
  5. Bring in your personality, via art pieces or woven pillows

Photography by Bruno Belli.

Bold colour blocking and biophilia energize this Ottawa co-working space

Project: GC Workplace Co-working Pilot Project
LWG Design Team: David Gibbons, ARIDO; Melanie Tracey, ARIDO; Kalmn Simmons, Intern, ARIDO

One of five Co-Working Pilot Projects built in the National Capital Area to provide a flexible, drop-in workspace for civil servants that are predominantly teleworking. This unassigned work environment provides an entire office ecosystem to support all the typical activities that occur in a normal workday, from heads-down space to areas for collaboration and everything in between. Our design includes bold colour blocking and biophilic elements.

A Winning Formula

When Syntegrity embarked on their search for property for their headquarters in Toronto, their goal was a space that would foster innovation, growth, and create opportunities for collaboration among employees, to reflect the core values of Syntegrity’s brand and culture.

Interior Designer: Roberta Diachok, ARIDO

Design Firm: Savills

Design Team: Rasha Al-Naqeeb, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Bob Gundu

After thoughtful evaluation, Syntegrity was ready to commit to a long-term home. As an organization that solves complex challenges for global leaders across the world, it wanted to ensure their workplace aligned with their brand, culture, and their unique approach to problem-solving.

Syntegrity requested an interior designed to improve wellness and health for employees and clients. This challenged the Savills team to identify suitable spaces that could accommodate their unique specifications, before tackling the interior design portion. After a comprehensive analysis of the office market, including workplace and workforce strategies, a centrally located space with a long-term lease was found in Brookfield Place. Since 2012, Brookfield has proudly provided its tenants with LEED Design for existing building operations and maintenance, and Gold Certified office space. LEED certification recognizes sustainable building operations and performance, BOMA, and WELL certificates. It was the perfect fit.

Their lobby establishes the atmosphere from entry with via their unique logo becoming a feature element of the space. Throughout, sustainable materials were selected for their low impact, while the use of fewer materials and re-use of leftover acoustic panel pieces helped keep costs down. Syntegrity also sought a multi-purpose, plenary space, which Savills addressed by adding a warm atmosphere to the plenary space. It can transform to a town hall, boardroom, training centre, and an event venue. 

Overall, the space supports Syntegrity’s everyday business just as much as their special events and consulting sessions. A winning formula. 

This welcoming, airy space is conference central for a Toronto firm

It’s true … Better questions, yield better answers. When our professional services client asked us to develop a landmark facility that supports their lines of business, employee engagement and much needed event and client experience space, our minds, as designers, leapt to the countless ways their brand could be emphasized in the new space.  

Interior Designer: Lori Urwin, ARIDO

Design Team: Daniela Barbon, ARIDO; Meagan Buchanan, ARIDO; Susan Tienhaara, ARIDO;
Kaitlin McElroy, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK

Project Photographer: Karl Hipolito

Our designers worked intimately with the client to create a classic, yet timeless space where events, dinners and educational forums can take place and showcase the firm’s innovation, knowledge and value to its clients. Expansive city views, tech-enabled boardrooms, collaborative meeting areas and a vibrant event space can all be found on the penthouse floor of a Toronto high rise with spectacular 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

Infused with daylight during the day and alluring mood lighting at night, the space accommodates all types of employee and client interactions. Plenty of gathering space for focused conversation was included to take advantage of the vistas, as well as provide additional breakout and quiet zones.

As the elevator doors open on the 40th floor, employees and guest are met with a highly polished and comfortable space, akin to a hotel venue. Prisms of light at entryways and across walls, clad in leather and metal screening, subtly reference the company’s logo. Twelve-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows complemented by clerestories and a glass ceiling invite daylight into the space and highlight the wood, leather, cool limestone and soft furnishings. Embracing a sense of light, air and space, the calm interiors are a backdrop for the stunning views of the city and lake beyond.

This newly constituted workplace for this firm has simplified operations, decreasing overall conference costs and enhancing the organization’s stature amongst employees, clients and the competition.

Bringing Two Spaces Together in One Dynamic Environment

Operating for many years in two suites on different floors of an office building, 411.ca was seeking an alternative that would improve workflow, encourage teamwork and facilitate communication among employees.

Interior Designer: Kathleen van Brussel, ARIDO
Design Team: Samantha Koss, ARIDO
Design Firm: Comely van Brussel
Photographer: Younes Bounhar, doublespace photography

The client wanted an open-concept environment for all levels of staff, and to create a variety of collaborative areas where teams and departments could easily interact.

After working with the client during the search for new office space, a final decision was made after touring an office tower overlooking the Don River. The vast floor plate with perimeter windows and beautiful views helped to establish the overall design concept: an open space filled with light, raw concrete and black finishes throughout, accented by the view and other natural elements.

The design objective was to preserve the sense of space while keeping teams within practical reach of one another and provide sufficient meeting and collaboration spaces. The space was to promote team work and project an image of a fun and dynamic environment.

The design team divided the space into several zones and placed individual work areas along the windows to maximize exposure to daylight. Enclosed meeting rooms with a multitude of furniture arrangements (lounge, traditional tables and chairs, standing desks) are at the centre of the floor. The design team also added open collaborative areas on each side of the building, a reception with a waiting area as well as an adjacent meeting room. Finally, the lunchroom is in the brightest corner of the floor, next to a room for large town-hall meetings.

The design elements and finishes reflect a dynamic urban environment, in contrast to the warmth of nature: raw concrete and dark tones are combined with wood and bright accent colours. Due to budget constraints, the design team upgraded design elements where employees would be exposed to them most, in the reception, main meeting room, and lunchroom.

Throughout the office, contrasting accent paints, carpet and upholstery are used, from the glossy black slat wall in reception against a ceiling of rustic oak, to the neutral tones of the lunchroom finishes as background for a striking graffiti wall and funky string lights.