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.

This Silicon Valley office embodies the best in workplace design

Open Text, like many offices, has recently announced a shift to remote work due to COVID-19. However, the project team still completed the work for this space, and it’s worthwhile to share their approach.

The client for this project, Open Text believes that its values are key to its past and future success. As a Canadian company that was expanding to Silicon Valley, it did not want an office that mimicked their competitors’ ‘adult playground’ spaces. Instead, OpenText wanted this new office to embody values of variety, wellness and connection.

Interior Designer: Danielle Leon, ARIDO
Design Team: Jenna Walsh, ARIDO
Design Firm: HOK
Photographer: Tom Arban, Emily Hagopian

The design team created a space where ninety-nine percent of open workstations have a view of the outdoors and seventy-nine percent situated within natural light. Additionally, the planning and architectural execution provides employees with easy access to refuel stops, hydration stations, and integrates biophilic design elements to boost employee wellness.

View of employee canteen with yellow cabinetry and glass wall with black trim.

Variety required that the OpenText team could work throughout the office in several distinct spaces. The design blends a communication stair, work cafe, lounge areas, traditional meeting rooms, scrum room, games room, focused workspaces with sit/stand desks, walk stations and tech-free recharge rooms. Open collaboration zones occur away from desk areas, to create privacy for focused work and comfort for collaboration.

The project team made a conscious decision to create a wide range of spaces that feel more like a hotel lobby or local cafe than a traditional corporate office. These fusion spaces have all the tools required for users to be productive, along with the added benefit of being emotionally comforting.

View from bottom of the stairs stone steps lead you up to a curving black staircase.

Lastly, OpenText’s history and its Canadian heritage are built into the office design. A perforated metal screen pattern displays the foundational software code on which Open Text was built. Meeting room names are a marriage of Canadian locations and code. The design team commissioned a world map made from keyboard keys to speak to Open Text development teams coding around the world. The office design keeps sight of Open Text’s Canadian roots, while they continue to grow worldwide.

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: Caitlin Turner, ARIDO; 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.

An adaptable space with flexible layout options allows for more intimate gatherings, open receptions and meetings.

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.

Space is used carefully in the suite of rooms, a long breakout space along the window accomodates a six seater high top, smaller cafe tables and lounge seating.

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.

Employees at work in this bright glass panelled work space with pale limestone floors, pale teal floors and brathtaking views of Toronto.

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.

Branded blue and Pac Man imagery take this supply chain start-up’s offices to the next level

For their redesign of this Toronto-founded supply chain start-up, the design team drew their core concept from visual themes in manufacturing.

Interior Designer: Joanne Chan, ARIDO

Design Team: Glenn Cheng, ARIDO

Design Firm: SDI Interior Design & Project Coordination

Photographer: Steve Tsai

Black stained concrete counters in the canteen and reception recall conveyor belts, while manufacturing plant aesthetics are referenced via concrete floors, open ceilings and architectural elements, some of which are treated in a signature Nulogy Blue. Linear movement is emphasized by sets of wood slats suspended on the ceiling, and angled blue glass partitions along the corridors.

The design team met the need for transparency and multiple meeting spaces by placing these sites along the outer corridors. Nulogy’s teams are highly creative and united, so the design team encouraged each group to brand their own spaces by designing decals as a team, to be stuck on the windows of each studio. Their identity as packaging people aka ‘Pac Men’ inspired the design team to reference the iconic game, which becomes a playful motif repeated throughout the floors, complete with his white marbles.

A vast corner space serves as canteen and townhall area, bordered by bleacher-style seating. The space is well equipped with A/V solutions and custom designed acoustic ceiling panels that contrast with the Nulogy blue of the ceiling and ductwork.

While the central reception area is an efficient space with signage and guest seating in one, glimpses of Nulogy’s culture can be seen from the reception, while a number of breakout spaces are available throughout the space, including lightbulb inspired nooks; perfect for the next bright idea.

Ultra cool offices for Vice Toronto HQ

Interior Designer: Allen Chan
Design Firm: DesignAgency
Photographer: Adrien Williams

A rambunctious, audacious and youthful energy is the spirit of the Vice brand, and they sought an office space that reflected these qualities. Attuned to the needs of its client, the design team infused a decommissioned factory with the informal, relaxed vibe of a classic cigar lounge, then stealthily layered technology, lighting, and sound equipment throughout.

Upon entry, you are immersed in the vivid world of the Vice brand. The industrial lobby captures, through giant panes of steel-framed glass, the hive of activity throughout. Unexpected touches, like the neon sign, give a taste of Vice’s sense of quirky irreverence. That irreverence intensifies immediately beyond the lobby, where visitors step into a fully stocked saloon.

Adjacent to the bar, the Bear Room is both a meeting area and the signature interview space, where sound equipment and lighting can be optimized for filming. The room is elevated a foot from the rest of the office for both poetic and practical reasons. The podium makes visitors feel important; the added lift helps with on-camera sightlines.

Most of the office is open concept, with employees at reconfigurable desks with optional privacy screens. Lighting, augmented by giant east facing windows, can be adjusted for filming. Walnut-and-glass-clad cubes float down one side of the office, separating the kitchen from the main space. The separation instills a sense of intimacy for the eating area, useful because it doubles as a set for on-camera cooking demos.

Other intimate break-out areas include boardrooms lit with custom lighting that carries the theme of stealthily integrated tech: the cable channels are cast into the concrete floor and discretely run into the tables. Editing suites are completely sealed from the office bustle, while a screening room provides a space for unwinding and watching the results of the office’s frenetic creativity.

Creative use of modular furniture earns this school office an A+

After moving into a former commercial building in North York for more than 20 years, the North Toronto Christian School was in need of a facelift on its main office. The new design solution not only re-establishes the school’s image, but also improves work efficiency with several sustainable benefits.

Interior Designer: Shan He, ARIDO/NCIDQ
Design Firm: Phoenix Tree Consulting Inc.
Project Photographer: Phoenix Tree Consulting Inc.

Having a welcoming and efficient main office is of particular importance to the small private school in Toronto with over 400 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12.  As the school’s key administrative interface for students and parents, the main office was the central hub, which needed to set an image for the school as an open, progressive, and inviting place.  The primary challenge was to modernize the space within the constraints of the school’s administrative working process and limited space.  

School secretary speaks to two young students in a school office with gray floors and long white counter.

The original front desk consisted of two parts with a path in the middle, neither one was to the code or met barrier-free requirements.  The 90’s finishes, non-system furniture with separate storage units, and two worn-out workstations didn’t represent the school’s ever-growing reputation or permit efficient administrative work due to uninvited interaction and conversations. 

We changed the entrance point but maintained the basic layout to minimize the impact of changes and focused on the functionality of the furniture setup and the cohesive design elements applied throughout the space, especially the school image that the new design would represent. 

Behind the counter view of school office showing off added storage and long feature wall of artwork.

Aiming for a vibrant and youthful environment, a set of complementary colours were chosen: blue and orange, which was inspired by one of the school’s outdoor education activities – surfing.  The blues provide the calm and spacious atmosphere for the overall space, while the orange adds vibrance throughout.  System furniture was the first choice to furnish an administrative office for its durability and standard elements.  To minimize the cost while maintaining the desired storage requirements, we custom designed a front counter with two heights by using furniture modules.   

Within the high counter shell lies four metal file cabinets with lockable doors, providing a secure storage for stationery. Underneath the low counter there are open shelves for large-format paper storage.   Low-panel workstations were chosen to provide minimal privacy without blocking off the admin staff.  A 10-year-old student installation art on the feature wall in the waiting area was replaced with new vertical paint stripes in blue, grey, and white that echoes the colour scheme, making a quiet yet unique statement by itself or as the background for framed student artwork. 

Long feature wall of artwork with orange and blue seating and gray laminate floor.

The most successful design solution lies in the new front counter/storage.  By using system furniture elements the project costs were minimized. Furthermore, should the front counter need to be replaced in the future, the four metal cabinets can be reused elsewhere, which is a sustainable solution. The two-colour combination of the front counter provides contrast and a fresh look of a school main office, which is normally considered serious and plain.  The double heights accommodate all visitors, including kindergarten children and wheelchair users.  

Fresh, clean, and modern design dictates this updated real estate office

This project is the creation of a new 20,000 square foot head office for a Canadian real estate firm, which chose to relocate to a new floor in an existing building that they own and manage. The mandate was to create a fresh, clean, and modern environment which reflects the company as a leader in the market, and guide the transition from private offices to an open concept environment for everyone.

Interior Designer: Victoria Horobin, ARIDO
Design Team: Sherry Bilenduke, ARIDO
Design Firm: KBH Interior Design Inc.
Project Photographer: Richard Johnson

The design team led the staff through a change management process, conducting meetings with small groups to establish goals and address fears. Following these meetings, the design team drafted a set of standards and concept materials to illustrate the new solution and presented them at a town hall for the entire organization.

A new set of workplace standards were created, which took all staff from private offices into a new open office environment. New workstations were much more open, but the overall footprint size of 6′ x 7′ matched their previous station size. Storage was minimized and ergonomic features and height-adjustable work surfaces added to the new stations.

This new design provides access to daylight for each employee, and many alternative meeting and work spaces, including meeting rooms, focus rooms, phone rooms and staff lounges.

A neutral palette of shades of grey was warmed up with walnut accents in workstation surfaces, a custom reception desk and panelled wall in the reception area, and an intricate wood screen that separates the coffee lounge from open work areas. Different carpet patterns add texture, warmth and acoustical properties to the space.

An updated HVAC system improves the air quality in the space, while employees have sit-stand options at their desks, and a central employee canteen encourages socializing and taking a proper lunch break.

This office is a beehive of activity without all the bee clichés

Before founding ecobee in 2007, CEO Stuart Lombard was on a mission to reduce his family’s carbon footprint and save money. When his family returned home one winter day to find their house freezing, he knew there had to be a better way to both conserve energy and save money. Being an engineer, it was then that he decided to build his own thermostat. It was on that day, that ecobee was born.

Interior Designer: Tulin Artan, ARIDO
Design Firm: Ray Inc.
Project Photographer: David Whittaker

The relocation to the old Bank of Canada building at 250 University Avenue in combination with a limited budget, necessitated trade-offs to create the loft style look. Ecobee’s thermostat is marketed as helping customers to “maximize comfort and savings without compromising your lifestyle.” The design followed suit.

Workspace at eco bee with desks next to walls and open meeting areas opposite.

Lombard and his team sought a space that didn’t have the traditional corporate office feel, had a large lunchroom style space for town hall meetings, and no obvious ‘beehive’ imagery. A subtle space that captured the start-up company’s casual, young vibe was their goal.

Ray Inc incorporated their key brand elements like simplicity, a sense of play and approachability with an industrial tone. Reclaimed wood and steel also emphasize the sustainability element.

The design team placed workstations closely together to foster ideas and exchange, which allowed a front-facing client area and lunchroom to have more space. Every employee has access to natural light and views of the outdoors.

A project for this company would only serve half its purpose if it neglected the environmental impact. The design team re-used existing carpet under the workstations, linear office lighting was repurposed, while a newly exposed concrete floor was polished to appeal to the client’s appetite for raw materials.

According to their CFO, Jon Prosser, “The designer was fully committed to us throughout the project and expertly interpreted our vision to create a unique office design truly embodying the ecobee brand. They sourced, scheduled and managed the entire project for us completing it within budget and timeframe. We were thrilled with the outcome and would not hesitate to recommend them or use them for future projects.”