A clear vision keeps design on-track

After 25 years in their Greater Toronto Area operations office, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. decided it was time to renovate their Toronto office to reflect how their business and industry has evolved.

Interior Designer: Peter Heys, ARIDO

Design Firm: B + H Architects

Photographer: Doublespace Photography & Keith Williams

They were ready to invest in a space that would sustain PCL well into the future and to help them work differently as an organization. The design team met with PCL to better understand their company culture, as embodied in “Poole’s Rules” – the founder’s core principles established more than 100 years ago, which are still fundamental to the PCL culture.

Employees were asking for an environment that facilitated more collaboration to embrace challenges together; a focus on health, well-being and work-life balance; and the integration of technology. Prioritizing employees’ health and well-being, and the company’s focus on sustainability, the fit-out is designed to LEED standards and can evolve with changing standards. Every effort was made to enhance the quality of light and views to the exterior – including continuous clear glass fronts on all perimeter rooms, new indirect LED pendant lighting, and maximum reflectance from ceiling and furniture finishes.

As both the client and the construction manager, PCL’s workplace demonstrates what’s possible when the client, constructor, and design teams collaborate to balance an organization’s current and future needs with the wants and needs of departments. While every project has its challenges, a clear vision keeps design on track.

As the client stated, “whenever we encountered difficult site conditions or challenging details, the design team devised a plan to not only solve the issue but enhance it. Through attention to detail and an unwillingness to let even the smallest detail slip, it’s clear why the office design has so effectively supported our vision.”

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Pioneering the open plan office

In 2015, Jones Collombin approached Altius Architecture to design and manage the construction of a new office for their growing wealth management firm. When space became available in the architecturally significant TD Centre towers, with soaring views of downtown Toronto, the client seized upon the opportunity.

Interior Designer: Cathy Garrido

Design Firm: Altius Architecture

Photographer: Arnaud Marthouret

Jones Collombin sought meeting rooms of various sizes, private offices, open work stations, as well as the back of house spaces to support them – such as a print room, server area, employee kitchen, reception and waiting area, and cloak cupboards, all while preserving the views from the historic office tower to the outside.

A man sits at a desk with a wall of windows.

To address their largest challenge, the design team placed desks around an open plan and adopted a clean, modern aesthetic for the new interiors. The travertine of the elevator lobbies migrates into the reception area, Teknion glass and plywood partitions create necessary separations of spaces, while maintaining the sense of an open office. A light coloured, neutral palette and sophisticated lighting creates bright interior spaces that don’t feel devoid of natural light, despite the deep floor plate. Every desk has skyward views and access to natural daylight.

This project was completed in 2016, at a time when many offices didn’t prioritize equitable access to natural light for all employees. Such access to natural light and views has proven positive effects on employee wellbeing and promotes productivity.

The historic importance of the building can’t be overstated, designed by original star-chitect, Mies van der Rohe, the TD Centre is a stunning example of the International Style of architecture that swept through the 1960s. Jones Collombin’s office maximizes the stunning views of their TD Centre offices while ensuring each employee can enjoy them.

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.