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.

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.

This office has multiple neighbourhoods, each with its own personality

Tandia Financial moved from three cramped floors to a single daylight-flooded level featuring 18 foot ceilings. With the entire organization now on one floor we had to come up with a way of structuring the space to provide simple wayfinding and an intuitive sense of order.

Interior Designer: Joanne Chan, ARIDO
Design Firm: SDI Design Inc
Project Photographer: Scott Norsworthy Photography

Meeting and work space is adjacent to a special meeting area built to look like a cabin in the office space.

By clustering hard-walled spaces at the centre we divided the space into four neighbourhood quadrants. Each neighbourhood has a central common space break-out area with a unique visual identity. And each of these “squares” is further differentiated by having an individual ambience based on one of the four seasons. The public facing facilities are organized around the town’s “Piazza”, and flanked by community spaces such a training rooms, café, reception, boardroom and visitor meeting rooms, etc.

Team members:
Interior Design: SDI Design: Joanne Chan, Glenn Cheng, Bruce Freeman, Rubia Fossari
Project Manager: Cresa Toronto_ May Chaaya
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Iannuziello & Associates
Structural Engineers: Dorlan Engineering
Architect: Paradigm Architects
Constructor: Flat Iron Building Group

How Quebec City’s topography inspired Deloitte’s downtown offices

In 2016, Deloitte Canada unveiled their new workplace strategy in their redeveloped tower in Toronto’s financial district.

Interior Designer: Julie Chan, ARIDO
Interior Design Team: Melissa Beresford, ARIDO
Design Firm: Deloitte
Joint Venture: Lemay Michaud Architect
Photography: Adrien Williams

Their new approach, called Orbis, has touched each of their office spaces in the country, and in January 2018, their Quebec City location received its refresh. The goal of the project was to implement Deloitte’s national Orbis workplace strategy while creating a strong identity that reflects the geographical history and vitality of la vieille capitale.

The topography of Quebec City informed the design, mainly the hills and stairways that connect neighbourhoods together. These iconic heritage elements were used as inspiration in the office design, linking the upper town and lower town, a passage between historically wealthy and working-class neighbourhoods.

The palette of finishes for the main floor is inspired by the color of the upper town: green of oxidized copper roofs, gray of stone buildings, and blue of the river. The lower town inspired the lower floor palette: ochre and earth tones of painted buildings, and orange of the stone from the battlements.

The layout had to address Deloitte’s request that the reception area have ample room to host events. In the work areas, furnishings adaptable for individual and collaborative work were developed in accordance to Deloitte’s established standards. The cafes, located on each of the two floors, display custom murals that reflect the duality of the city. The upper level graphic evokes the history and built heritage of Quebec City while the lower level mural incorporates the youthful energy of summer concerts held on the Plains of Abraham.

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.