An activity based workplace for innovation

With a lease expiration looming, Cisco was prompted to examine their current work space only to realize that it was not compatible with current ways of working. Cisco envisioned their new WaterPark Place office as a branded environment demonstrating the company’s commitment to innovation and an opportunity to showcase their integrated technology products.

Interior Designer: Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Team: Marianna Ng, ARIDO; Laura Jones, ARIDO; Lisa Fulford-Roy, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Project Photographer: Tom Arban

With a hot desking set up for most employees, the layout is based on work styles rather than by departments, following the activity-based model. This also encourages employees to work remotely, making full use of technology that supports flexibility and innovation.

The employee floors are designed in three concentric circles, with the café and meeting spaces at the centre. Next, the middle ring is a series of quiet rooms, built with acoustic solutions, creating a buffer between ‘social’ and ‘work’ spaces. The outermost ring houses individual workstations, ensuring every employee has access to natural light. Cisco’s technology products are integrated throughout, providing opportunities for employees to witness their implementation.

With a neutral base palette enhanced by warm walnut wood, different accent colours on each of three floors produce an effect that is sophisticated but not trendy. The working environments are clean-lined and professional; in contrast, the social spaces have a more industrial look with open ceilings, metal stairs, concrete accent walls, and reclaimed wood paneling.

To create a greater sense of place and identity, the design team incorporated icons of Canadian culture throughout, including meeting rooms named after iconic Toronto buildings, like Casa Loma and Massey Hall.

East coast cool infuses this office with casual, relaxed atmosphere

For their Contact Centre in Halifax, TD Insurance wanted to captivate and exceed the expectations of TD’s younger employees. The client wanted an effective workplace with ample space for relation and conviviality, with a connection to the culture of its host city, Halifax, NS. As the office is located less centrally, TD wanted to highlight the stunning outdoor surroundings, seaside, and the relaxed nature of the area.

Interior Designer: John Tanfield, ARIDO
Design Firm: SGH Design Partners
Photographer: Kelly Clark

The design team created neighbourhoods of workstations to disrupt repetition while achieving maximum efficiency. The floor plan was mapped out as a streetscape that mimics the Halifax city plan. Wide pedestrian avenues and connecting corridors become streets that link neighbourhoods of workstations, amid meeting rooms and employee pause stations. This layout encourages movement throughout the day, and the range of workspace options boosts wellness in the workplace. Open ceilings, industrial fixtures, and interactive graphics incorporate the essence of the history and vibrant arts community known to the east coast.

Employee pause stations are surrounded by coloured glass walls to reflect the colourful palette of boats in the harbour, while raw materials like reclaimed wood and metals define these areas and evoke the laid-back nature of the city. The design team commissioned murals, custom lighting, and decorative features from local artists, ensuring the space is authentic, casual, and cherished by staff.

Forest surroundings inspire this Toronto software office

In 2017, Toronto’s BlueCat Networks, an enterprise DNS and cyber security provider, had recently earned several nods as a great place to work, with a focus on shared values like clarity, curiosity, collaboration, transparency, and ownership. However, its office space was not set up to encourage these values and best support employees.

Interior Designer: Beverly Horii, ARIDO
Design Team: Angelique Lucas-Witte, ARIDO; Suzanne Campbell, ARIDO
Design Firm: IA Interior Architects
Project Photographer: Ben Rahn

The design team drew inspiration from the office’s natural views and BlueCat’s core company values. Bringing the outdoors in, and responding to the semi-suburban setting, further differentiates BlueCat from downtown firms with industrial aesthetics.

Opening the space around the perimeter and lining meeting rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass walls contributes to the abundant daylight and forest views. Recurring natural materials bring the outdoors in, and large leaf motifs of various indigenous trees adorn the glass-walls of enclosed meeting rooms. Each room is named for the type of tree that bears the displayed leaf, creating visual interest with a touch of biophilia.

For the engineering department, a lab design provides teams of 8-10 with universal-sized workstations, shared writeable walls, huddle spaces, and meeting rooms. By using the same desk module, team zones can easily be arranged in configurations that best support the current project and also permit flexible boundaries between the departments depending on growth.

A large, park-like community space includes a lunch area with picnic tables and a beer tap, a video gaming area with a couch, a servery for staff meals, and a multi-purpose space with moveable furniture and garage doors that open for training, town hall meetings, and social gatherings. The redesign offers employees many chances to uphold the company’s core values, with spaces to collaborate, focus and

A new startup model in a tired industry deserves a unique workspace

Clearbanc is making waves in the investment industry, disrupting the standard model of a traditional firm by providing cash for ads in exchange for revenue share. A much more appealing option for e-commerce start-ups than the typical path of pursuing a venture capitalist and giving up equity. A new business model in a tired industry deserves a workspace that is just as unique. And thus the moniker “Not your average tech office” was born.

Interior Designer: Dyonne Fashina
Design Firm: Denizens of Design
Project Photographer: Naomi Finlay

Co-founders Andrew D’Souza and Michele Romanow (of CBC’s Dragon’s Den) wanted the space to feel comfortable for staff while remaining ambiguous in design by avoiding the brand specific approach we have come to expect in tech office culture. Instead, the project aims to provide a setting that has the team excited to head into work each day.

The project has the typical programmatic requirements of a workspace. With a relaxed team of client’s the opportunity was left open for the design direction to come to life through the process. 

What started out as a joke in the initial concept meeting developed into something celebratory and relatable for the, mostly millennial, staff. Michele, a bonafide Khaleesi inside the Dragon’s Den, inspired an image of Daenerys Targaryen (Mother of Dragons from HBO’s Game of Thrones) in the design package. While Andrew plays the part of Dothraki Chieftain Khal Drago; we couldn’t resist the reference. The team had a good laugh and then continued on with the design without a second thought about it.

In present day culture, social media memes, buzzworthy spaces, and iconic series’ have somehow earned divine status. So when we realized the design had inadvertently taken on unscripted nods to Game of Thrones in the midst of its final season, we decided to run with it and poke a little fun at these notions.

Bold jewel tones transition across the workspace to define zones as a source of wayfinding; colour blocked and angled along the walls to mimic the dramatic shadows and light – typical of most scenes in the show. In the northern end of the space, emerald green prevails in the form of a textile composite flooring and a misty forest mural. A calming setting for the fast pace work environment, leaves you hoping to catch a glimpse of Jon Snow on route to the castle of Winterfell. 

While in the south, ruby red velvet draperies in archways add visual and acoustic privacy while modern cabinetry in old worldly dark walnut coupled with flashy brass fittings provide the ultimate setting fit to serve

Her Grace. Each area is defined by a shift in colour, feeling, and quality of light; playing well into the essence of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The result is fun, tongue-in-cheek and moderately referential of the series.

Clearbanc is growing at a rapid pace, making this design suitable for a short term space as they look for a permanent home. The majority of the furniture and custom items are modular and can be taken on to their next space, fitting well into any design setting.

Entertainment company works from show stopping office

Entertainment One is a Canadian-based, global leader in the film, television, and music industry. Their ongoing business growth and strategic acquisitions had left their operations spread across Toronto in five different locations, and they were searching for an office space that would unite the 450 (and growing) staff into a new world headquarters and support the integration of an incredibly diverse group of creative staff.

Interior Designer: Greg Quinn, ARIDO
Design Team: Yuritza Rodriguez, ARIDO; Andrea Niklas, ARIDO
Design Firm: X-Design
Project Photographer: Steve Tsai

They selected a 100,000 square foot space in a brand-new office tower at the corner of Peter Street and Richmond Street West in Toronto, and engaged the design team to provide a brighter and more flexible experience to the staff. Staff can work independently or gather in different types of settings; from casual café meeting areas, to private meeting booths, to full meeting rooms equipped with the latest technology.

A large meeting room with wood topped conference table surrounded by office chairs and bench seating nearby. Round black pendant lights overhead extend the brand while a tambour wood screen hides acoustical panelling.

A modern feature stair links the office floors together, and each floor is equipped with café and meeting spaces at the stair landing, encouraging interaction and integration among employees. Each coffee station in the café has a movie marquee designed to let the staff create custom messages, changing and activating the space. When a visitor tours through the office, a simple walk down the stairs exposes the diversity of creative assets for which eOne is responsible.

On the 5th floor, the design team created a multipurpose hub for the organization. Serving as a lunchroom, and meeting place that can be easily transformed to host a yoga class, an all hands meeting, or host an extravagant film festival party. Custom walls rotate around a fixed axis to open and partition the space as required. When the custom walls are aligned, their openings mimic the perspective of looking through the aperture of a camera, and recall the mission of the entire company.

Meeting space with square detail partitions provide lots of space ot meet for employees.

This office is brighter under the sun

Proving life’s brighter under the sun, Sun Life consolidated two of its existing offices into one vertical campus for over 2,000 employees.

Interior Designer: Sharon Turner, ARIDO

Design Team: Daniela Barbon, ARIDO; Bridget Brown, ARIDO; Yen Lee, ARIDO; Erica Merry, ARIDO

Design Firm: HOK

Photographer: Tom Arban

To begin, the designers and Sun Life project team gathered ideas and recommendations from all levels of staff. Together, they learned employees craved a workplace replete with cutting-edge technology that adapts with how and where each employee chooses to work, including sit-stand desks for all workstations and a variety of soft seating options.

The new design features an employee hub, staff training area, full-floor reception, and meeting centre. Boasting exceptional views of Toronto’s waterfront, the wraparound terrace on the top floor allows staff and guests ample access to the outdoors.

The sun was a recurring theme throughout the project: the way natural light shifts during the day guided the floor plan, while a sun ray architectural detail identifies the cafes, and echoes the company’s logo. The colour palette of neutrals, white oak, bronze metal accents complemented by bursts of blue, yellow, red and orange hues, also pay homage to the sun’s daily journey.

The sophistication of the new office is amplified by high-tech touches including an interactive digital coffee table at reception to provide guests with information about Sun Life’s ongoing work, and a 45-foot digital mural displaying scenes from cities around the world where Sun Life operates. The project also achieved LEED Platinum certification through minimized energy consumption including reduced lighting and water conservation.

History and progress are the inspiration for these university spaces

Ryerson University’s Podium Building, built in the 1970s, houses both the Archives – the university’s institutional memory, with records spanning 200 years – and Special Collections, a treasury of photography, film and cultural history objects. These precious collections formed a single administrative unit, but the spaces were windowless, poorly lit, haphazardly organized, and split between two floors. Similarly, the Library’s Information Technology Services (LITS) group occupied several small, outdated offices.

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings
Photographer: Tom Arban

To realize the potential of these collections and services, Ryerson sought bright, dynamic spaces that would invite people in and facilitate research and engagement. For the Archives and Special Collections, they wanted an integrated space with a ‘storefront’ opening, showcasing these previously hidden resources to the community. Some existing finishes and furniture, such as Egerton Ryerson’s original desk, were to be retained.

Reading lounge at archive and special collection with dark green seating and shelves of books stacked horizontally.

LITS’s activities were also to be concentrated in a single large location, linked by a bridge and a new entry to Ryerson’s Digital Media Experience in the Student Learning Centre (SLC) and enhanced with new state-of-the-art equipment.

The design team created a bold and coherent visual identity for these facilities, consistent both with Ryerson’s branding (yellow and blue school colours), and with the sense of historical continuity appropriate for a major archive. We created an integrated work and display space for the Archives and Special Collections, providing room for growth and space for experiential learning activities, and the Collaboratory, a flexible work space, maker-space, and staff work area facilitating research and experimentation.

The dynamic and experimental purpose for the Ryerson Collaboratory is exemplified in the sunny yellow covering the entrance.

To counter the scarcity of natural light, we used a vibrant colour palette throughout -highlighting Ryerson’s brand colours of yellow and blue. Extensive patterned glazing encloses interior spaces and provides a solution to the project’s limited budget.

A blue metal panel with windows provides a storefront display with cutouts where passers by can sit.

Passersby approaching the Archive and Special Collections are greeted by a blue metal panel ‘storefront’ design, with angular geometry framing a view of the displays and activities inside and provides a place to sit. Graphic film on the windows references archival coding systems and the dates of significant historic Ryerson events. Inside, heritage furnishings and finishes, including exposed brick walls, were integrated into a clean, efficient layout. An open area was subdivided to create a quiet study area with black LED pendant lighting, multipurpose teaching/event space, a staff work area, and a customized storage vault.

The Collaboratory – the Library’s newest interactive maker space, with state-of-the-art technology and equipment, facilitates experimental graduate media projects and events. The future-forward facility is designed with sustainable materials and strategies, and boasts the latest presentation technology, mobile whiteboards and tables with writable surfaces, workbenches, and storage lockers for use by research teams.

Mining corporation strikes gold with new office design

Lundin Mining Corporation is a Canadian-based multi-national mining organization, a leader in copper, nickel and zinc, with operations located around the globe. The key objectives for the firm’s new head office were the creation of a revitalized workplace that represented the corporation’s stability, professionalism, functionality, and respect for its people.

Interior Designer: Chantal Frenette, ARIDO
Design Firm: Kasian Architecture
Photographer: Michael Muraz

Strong yet sophisticated architectural elements were developed to delineate the specialized daily operations of the firm’s business units, while integrating Lundin’s brand identity throughout the space. The challenge became satisfying each of these business units’ needs and their requirements while creating a space with a cohesive language.

The greatest challenge behind this renovation project was the amount of built space within a single floor. The space was very dense, compared to modern standards, so the design team developed distinct ‘zones’ that maximize efficiency in their footprint.

Significant importance was also placed on the health and wellness for all team members by providing spaces that are adaptable. Every work-surface in the space is height adjustable, and there are numerous settings for connecting employees to encourage movement throughout the workday.
Providing the right mix of spaces and technology solutions, paired with workplace protocols, create today’s Activity Based Workplace (ABW). It promotes membership over ownership to a mix of spaces that best support varying tasks throughout the day. ABW offers choices for communication, interaction and collaboration.

Comfort, convenience and ease of use for their staff was a key priority for Lundin Mining. Significant investments were also made in furniture as well as new LED lighting and HVAC systems throughout to offer a high-level of flexibility for staff. Sophisticated audio-visual systems in every meeting space (open and closed) supports connections with other locations around the globe in an efficient and user-friendly manner.


Interior Design team deserves credit for Visa’s new offices

Visa used the relocation of its Canadian headquarters as an opportunity to create a highly energized and progressive working environment for their employees; one that fosters increased communication and collaboration between coworkers. Interestingly, Visa shifted their workplace from a traditional private office environment to an open concept workspace, reducing the number of private offices by 60%.

Interior Designer: Sharon Turner, ARIDO
Design Team: Caitlin Turner, ARIDO; Yen Lee, ARIDO; Jamie Lee Khan, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Photographer: Tom Arban

In a unique move, the premium corner views are dedicated to collaboration spaces, while enclosed offices are situated in the building’s core to maximize access to natural sunlight and views for all employees.

The collaboration spaces receive an abundance of natural light, while black ceilings add contrast and disguise fireproofing. A large promenade adjacent to reception on the 44th floor becomes an event area for large gatherings and meetings. Other collaboration areas are accented by feature lighting to create a greater sense of hominess. Mixed carpet tiles add distinction between the different zones of the office from the front entrance, subtly transitioning throughout.

A giant 3D feature element with the company name stands next to a seating area with sofas and employee workspaces beyond.

Visa also sought an updated, professional aesthetic, that clearly indicated their place in the financial sector. A floor-to-ceiling logo sign welcomes visitors as they step off the elevator, and the brand’s logo is integrated into the custom marble “concierge” desk. Brand colours of navy and silver are applied as accents throughout the space. Along the corridors, several glass shadowboxes house curated artifacts, memorabilia, and awards, while magnetized brand images add interest and allow for future versatility as the brand evolves.

A woman sits on a dark leather couch in the Visa office, a feature of company memoribilia is inset into the wall nearby.

Visa’s corporate sustainability mandate dictated that their new headquarters should use 80% less energy than a typical office building. LED lighting that senses daylight and occupancy is used throughout the space and all appliances are Energy Star rated. The whole project was completed on an extremely tight 12-week construction schedule, but the efforts were clearly worth the work.

Distance is no obstacle for this interior design project

OpenText’s vision was to create a major European Hub at their Reading, UK premises. The project consolidates two sites and expands OpenText’s current occupancy from two to three floors, linking to the ground floor for greater brand presence, as well as greater access to natural light and exterior views (including the protected wetlands nearby) which contribute to employee health and wellbeing.

Interior Designer: Lisa Fulford-Roy, ARIDO
Design Team: Winnie Leung, ARIDO; Erin Armstrong, ARIDO; Mhay Trinidad, Intern, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK

Intended to accommodate more client interaction and a consistent employee experience, OpenText focused on expanding the reception area, adding an executive boardroom and lounge, designing a technology-enabled meeting complex and integrating employee social gathering space and food services.

The existing stair was reactivated to encourage employee activity and vertical circulation. The ground floor incorporates several informal meeting spaces to encourage collaboration away from the quieter work areas on the first and second floors. As a refresh of the first and second floor had been recently completed, existing elements were incorporated with the new workplace design.

By engaging local employee ambassadors through vision sessions, the design team identified and integrated regional nuances. As the project location is 5,600 km away and separated by a 5 hour time difference, collaboration with the local project team was key to the success of the project. The Toronto team worked closely with the local client to fully understand specific needs of local users, like benching stations which were included in the solution, maintaining consistency with the existing workspace.

The finishes in the new workspace and Town Hall infuse the space with energy, with more vibrant OpenText brand colours introduced through brand murals, accent wall colours and some furniture pieces. Client-facing areas are more sophisticated, with muted colour tones, warm wood finishes, copper and brass pendant fixtures and marble transaction tops on the reception desk.

Employee breakout space with white tables and high top counter with modern lamps hung overhead.

The existing spiral staircase connects the new space to the old, encouraging movement between the two. Teamwork was essential due to the project location; the team worked closely with our design-build counterparts to ensure the design vision was executed per our specifications.