A client-integrated approach serves this non-profit project well

“Getting the right people in the room” to some might be a cheesy business platitude, however it can be the key to the success of interior design projects. At T+ Studio, we try to integrate that with our ‘round table approach’, whether it’s around a boardroom table or in a virtual Zoom room.

Interior Designer: Michael Serino, ARIDO
Design Firm: T+Studio
Photographer: Philip Castleton Photography

Our client engaged our team three years ago with a few specific goals. As a dynamic non-profit they wanted their Toronto headquarters to attract the generation of emerging professionals and use the space to promote their internal culture as well as their organization’s mandate. Their wide reaching mission touches on multiple aspects of today’s society, from religion to culture, including art and architecture. 

We were engaged in 2019 to deliver the project and provide strategy and analysis on the best ways to effectively use their project budget. 

The client designated most of the workspace to be enclosed offices for senior talent, so finding a balance of open work space, and providing a welcoming and exciting space for younger workers was key. 

The organization also hosts events from time to time and wanted to maintain their ability to do so, even after the pandemic has shifted the level of interest for in person events. Many of their members appreciate being invited to live events and the chance to meet other members and network within the membership. 

second level lounge area is placed right next to the glass encased staircase

As an association that collects member dues, the careful use of these funds was crucial. By directing a larger portion of the budget to the entertaining space for quarterly member’s meetings and events, we could put the tradition and history of the organization on display and exemplify the careful and transparent project spending. 

An interconnected stair becomes the nervous system of the space, with noble wood treads and a branded platform that grounds the structure and creates the perfect juxtaposition with the open risers and glass walls. These forms are repeated in the black sculpture at the centre of the stair, visually connecting the open space between the two floors.

The intersecting grid-like motif is echoed elsewhere in the sculptural wall and ceiling detail which crisscrosses above and behind the reception desk, an indicative branding message connecting culture and people. 

long hallway leading from the lounge and reception area to the offices and meeting rooms

A project like this would normally take 8-12 months, but this one stretched much longer due to pandemic shutdowns, material, and worker shortages. We tried to circumvent as many of the delays as possible by completing the upfront administrative work, pre-ordering supplies, creating shop drawings, and securing approvals during these pauses. With all the background work completed, we were able to hit the ground running when construction started again. 

Working with a great contractor and our in-house ‘round table approach’ led all stakeholders to come together and work towards a successful outcome. The round table approach leverages everyone’s experience and input and makes sure all parties around the table, regardless of its shape, are heard. 

Large long meeting room in neutral color scheme and modern furniture is visible behind a glass wall, looking from a common seating area in wood finish

Our client and stakeholders were well integrated in this project which provided them with a clear understanding of every decision. Incorporating the client this way ensured they could provide insight to their own stakeholders and stand clearly behind each decision. 

Large long meeting room in neutral color scheme and modern furniture with opened glass wall panels, looking from a common seating area in wood finish

As an Interior Designer, I believe it’s our job to unite everyone involved in a project: the client, design team, contractor and other professional consultants, and guide them to a successful outcome.

Rego Realty was sold on this innovative design

As the region’s most diverse and robust brokerage, it was only natural for Rego Realty to lead the way in business concept with their headquarters in midtown Kitchener/Waterloo. Guiding the vision of the venture was the unique convergence of services provided by Rego, and the challenge to take a 1970’s old block and concrete building and turn it into an 8725 square-foot  multi-use facility. 

Interior Designer: Adah Noelting, ARIDO

Design Firm: Dfy Studio

Photographer: Brandon Scott Photography

The project’s inspiration came from a strong reaction to the new wave of investors and property owners in the up-and-coming region. The goal of the facility was to streamline the buyers experience and lead them through an educational experience rather than a fast-paced destination. Crucial to the design was a space to house a café, event space, presentation area, coworking, and real estate team workspace. 

We wanted the space to attract people from various backgrounds, cultures, and ways of life. The addition of a locally loved coffee shop within the common space contributed a sense of connection and support to the community. Bringing direction, balance, and harmony to a multi-use space became the biggest design challenge. Fortunately, it was easy for our team to find motivation to work through the demanding criteria because of our client. 

The space spans four floors; the uppermost two floors were designated for the staff workspace and private meeting rooms; the main floor was developed into a public facing space with a fully functioning  café and lounge. The lower level was utilized as a space where condo developers could showcase their materials and finishes to help the process of new buyers in a cozy presentation area. 

Open ceilings and block walls throughout created obstacles in regard to acoustics. Our solution to this was to create custom trellis-like features as well as incorporating acoustic baffles and wall panels to balance the space and define working zones. With the limited amount of natural light, adding an element of biophilia to the design by incorporating moss into the darkest corner of the space, enhanced the atmosphere and added to the overall “wellness” of the office.

This project was about defying the normal process of real estate and bringing innovation, ease, and inclusion. The solution was very clear that this space needed to be an intentional and unique fusion of both residential and commercial elements.

Tailored soft seating, bespoke millwork design, localized reclaimed material, integrated technology, and refined branding are the key ingredients that make this space complete. 

As Technology Continues to Boom, so do Tech Companies

PagerDuty is one of the world’s leading digital operations management platforms for business. They help their clients prevent and resolve business-impacting incidents and deliver exceptional digital experiences. As a fast-moving and growing company, PagerDuty had outgrown their previous location on Queen Street West in Toronto and started their hunt for a new space to accommodate their growing team and business.

PagerDuty retained SGH as the prime designer to help lead this transition to their new home office. With the technology sector booming, being one of Toronto’s fastest-growing industries, PagerDuty was looking to remain ahead of the game for employee attraction and wanted to create a space that was conducive to open collaboration, team building, and overall employee wellness.

PagerDuty’s culture and brand were used as key drivers in the design of their new 24,000 square foot office. The brand-focused space was designed with standardized benching stations, enclosed and open meeting spaces equipped with the latest technology and named after Toronto landmarks and a large lunchroom with a games area that supported a town hall function as well. A portion of the space was designed for sub-tenant purposes which PagerDuty could take back in the future as the company grows and requires the extra square footage.

The finished space turned out absolutely beautiful! Pops of colour throughout the new office complement PagerDuty’s personality and brand, while the Toronto landmark named meeting spaces bring the city into this forward-thinking company.

ARIDO Award Winner: Smart City Sandbox

The Sandbox was a result of firm-wide technology pivot that focused on developing new technology platforms to embrace the creation of the Smart City of the Future. This transformation required a rethink from a traditional design services provider into that of a lifecycle partner role (for both urban and built environments). The Sandbox’s primary purpose was to provide a community platform for like-minded technology start-ups to inspire disruptive thinking and develop new ideas that would potentially benefit all involved. The concept was to create a transformational environment in which to inspire innovation and create enhanced collaboration between both industry partners and internal users.

Category: WORK

Interior Designer: Jane Juranek, ARIDO
Design Firm: IBI Group Architects (Canada) Inc.
Design Team: Michelle Haber, ARIDO; Mahsa Saeedi, ARIDO; Katie McCann, Intern ARIDO; Shana Davies, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Ben Rahn – A-Frame Inc.

The “Phygital” shift into an immersive environment initiates with the LED entry portal and then envelops the senses into a unique black box experience. This shift provides an inspirational lens on how the user will view, and ultimately create, tools and experiences of their own. Digital equity is afforded to all participants (whether physical or remote) with the spaces agnostic design sensibility and digital twin capabilities.

The black box effect saturates all surfaces throughout by creating a dramatic backdrop for both the occupant and technology, contrasted by colour saturated “little boxes” (floating rooms), that provide both individual and group work settings. Implied courtyards between these boxes form virtual rooms out of negative space to demonstrate and test new technologies along with exploring new AR/VR environments under development throughout the space.

The Sandbox was inspired by a start-up philosophy, with goals to provide flexibility and scalability for a full-service destination unlike any other. The space consists of 3 different zones; a central communal hub, a visualization production area, and a bespoke meeting zone.

The communal hub is entirely fluid and can be used for events, guest speakers, charettes, presentations, and impromptu staff touch down as well as a co-working touch down for partners to utilize for focus work and collaboration. A variety of settings support multiple postures from respite to teamwork and are all completely technology-enabled with mobile presentation screens. The visualization development area supports AR/VR technology production, demos, and client experiences. Individual “little boxes” link the spaces and provide an inspirational reprieve for meetings or simply acoustic separation. Whether incubating a start-up partner or internal teams, the Sandbox supports all workstyles and needs in a quickly scalable design for as few as 30 core staff or as many as 200 while hosting a Community Event depending on the function.

While the groundwork to cultivate the next generation of smart buildings and infrastructure in cities is still being laid, tangible results are starting to be realized that can be quantified and further built upon. Successful technologies and building life cycle tools are being both launched into the market and incorporated into ongoing Client initiatives. The firm’s Intelligence sector’s growth has greatly benefited through an increase in collaboration with other Practice Sectors and ultimately a significant increase in market share for the Firm. The ultimate goal will be to have the Sandbox support an eco system for urban innovation. Virtual events have continued to be hosted via the Sandboxes digital twin environment successfully throughout the recent pandemic.

Other practical accomplishments also include the spaces ability to function as a Living Test Lab for new technology platforms, for which the Sandbox is developing IoT enabled programs to collect data, leverage its application and ultimately apply these learnings back into tangible value for clients whether it be a real estate decision or a user experience. The Sandbox has also created a Digital Twin of the environment which demonstrates the firm’s extensive toolbox including how we can work to inform and assist in managing the life cycle of a facility from the end-user perspective. Sensors throughout the space assist in a more bespoke behavioural user engagement of the space as well as provide extremely valuable data analytics on issues such as space utilization and effective use of environmental controls.

Another one of the Sandbox’s key tenets is to also help support the need for a climate positive approach to our urban environment. Some of the likeminded co-collaborators in this pursuit include Ontario Power Generation, The Weather Network and the Ontario Centre for Excellence all striving for a more sustainable future.

A “build it and they will come” philosophy/strategy was undertaken in terms of developing something unique within the architecture and design industry and having ultimate flexibility in its programmatic execution. The Sandbox looks to transport users into an immersive environment, starting with a shift in one’s mindset as they pass through the LED entry portal. This threshold establishes an entirely different lens on how the user will view, and ultimately create, unique ideas of their own.

The Sandbox was designed to embody the core values of the Corporation – Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging.
Diversity as a defining feature includes the firm’s identity, legacy, and future. These three components are key drivers that helped embody the development of new type community space where all would be welcomed and feel like equals.

The creation of an equitable, inclusive and accessible environment were part of the initial guiding principles of design undertaken from the outset of the Project. Hierarchy, formality, and structure were avoided in order to create design equity throughout all spaces.

Another key consideration was to create an inclusive culture based on merit and free of conscious or unconscious bias; a culture where everyone is encouraged to be themselves and achieve a sense of belonging.

Another one of the Sandbox’s key tenets/outcomes is to also help support the need for a climate-positive approach to our urban environment. Some of the like-minded co-collaborators in this pursuit include Ontario Power Generation, The Weather Network, and the Ontario Centre for Excellence all striving for a more sustainable future. They all share a common goal in developing a more sustainable future for us to inhabit in the built urban environment.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: November 2019
Project Square Footage: 6,482

ARIDO Award Winner: Spin Master (Floor 1-6)

In order to create a customized home for Spin Master that is a reflection their brand and culture, our strategy began by chiseling away as much of this corporate office tower interior as possible. The shell of the “Uncorporate Headquarters” was hollowed out to reveal a rough concrete box with all of the patina of years gone by. The ground floor reception draws guests in, leading them up a stack of toy blocks into a five-floor factory of innovation.

Category: WORK

Interior Designer: Anthony Orasi, ARIDO
Design Firm: iN STUDIO
Design Team: Guy Painchaud, ARIDO; Heidi Painchaud, ARIDO; Rosemary Ratkaj, ARIDO; Vince Zhao, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Gillian Jackson

We linked all floors through a new central interconnected stair, forging a path of vertical circulation directly adjacent to the workspace. The open work studios are in turn located next to collaborative hubs and meeting rooms. The bright day-lit spaces, ubiquitous biophilia, and playfulness of the brand’s portrayal throughout create an energetic incubator of ideas.

Spin Master’s brand permeates every part of the six-floor space, showcasing their innovation and the fun that they create everyday. It begins with the larger-than-life Block Stack stair leading up from the ground floor into the workshop above. From there, a vibrant ribbon of graphics, interactive signage and installations winds its way through the floors.

The guest journey begins by climbing the Block Stack, to a landing where a giant 3-dimensional interactive installation tells the story of Spin Master’s past and hints at their future. Guests can engage with the exhibit and follow the timeline that showcases their successes, as well as the many lessons learned along the way. The tour continues past the innovation labs and through the expansive town hall space and on to various touchpoints throughout the five upper levels. A hall of awards and cinema-quality screening room rounds out the tour on the sixth floor.

As Spin Master’s focus is as much about tactile toys as it is digital entertainment, technology is front and centre in their new space. The twenty foot high interactive video wall that greets guests upon entry celebrates the company’s status as a digital entertainment leader. While the various digital showpieces showcase the future-forward embodiment of children’s entertainment, the much quieter, but cutting-edge AV infrastructure inject Spin Master’s home with a much needed way to connect with their hubs and partners around the world.

As much as technology was to have a large, visible part in the new environment, the look and feel of Spin Master’s space was to be distinctly tied to their “Start-Up” and Maker roots. This led to the idea of creating a more industrial backdrop with rough textured concrete, industrial light fixtures and less polished finishes giving the feeling of a garage or warehouse. Over top of this rougher texture, we layered the warmth of a Maker’s Workshop through the light wood flooring, wall cladding and furnishings. Ensuring the development labs were front and centre peaks the curiosity of individuals who visit the space, giving a glimpse into the inner-workings of a storied manufacturer and re-enforcing that this is where ideas come to life.

With its interesting patina the concrete shell of the space became a key part of the overall aesthetic. A weathered backdrop for the layers, creating the look and feel of an industrial space meets maker’s workshop.

Both the main and second floors of the building are double height spaces, allowing the design team to think big – as well as to locate specialized spaces that required additional height. On the main floor, the leased space was small, but it provided the perfect highly visible arrival space to attract attention and promote the brand.

Taking advantage of the height, the 2nd floor also houses a large town hall with two-story bleachers, and expansive training room, multiple development labs as well as a photo studio. On the north end of the 2nd floor is where the main interconnecting stair begins – rising through floors 2-6, connecting the work studios and providing a central circulation spine. Elevator Lobbies were transformed into showcases of Spin Master’s Entertainment Products and offer a sneak peek into the unique spaces such as the 4th floor 3D Development Lab.

Floors 3 through 5 are divided into pods or studios of open workstations, all directly adjacent to the exterior glazing. All workspaces feature height adjustable tables and personal whiteboards while the design and product studios also feature expansive layout and storage space to suit their individual needs. Closed meeting space creates a break between the studios while collaborative zones interrupt runs of small leadership office/meeting spaces that run the length of the corridors.

Long corridors that encircle the core of the building are brought to life with “Spin Master Moments”, digital stops, colourful graphics and three dimensional installations. This often overlooked circulation space, devoid of natural light became a showcase of brand. No longer a back hallway, now a fun place to stop and chat, or to perch and take a call. Support spaces are clustered down these corridors, toward the core of the building.

Although similar to floors 3-5, the 6th floor is flanked by Executive offices on the east and west building perimeter and features an Awards Gallery and a Cinema-style Screening Room near the core.

Barrier free access is provided throughout and all built spaces are conducive to the use by individuals of all sizes and abilities. Although connecting staircases are the one exception to this rule, great efforts were made to ensure the elevator experience was in-line with that of the rest of the facility – giving every individual easy and efficient communication between levels.

All spaces, including all telephone rooms allow for barrier-free access. All counters are installed at barrier-free height or include a barrier free section which allows for full functionality. Door operators were installed at all doors within the circulation path including elevator lobbies. Although not every single seat in shared spaces can accommodate every type of individual, there is a consistent assortment of seating types that will accommodate everyone.

An interior that promotes sustainability, heath, and wellness and supports universal design was a project mandate. The space fonforms to LEED guidelines around healthy materials, as well as electrical and mechanical parameters. All interior finishes were low-emitting, recycled, recyclable or both. Interior systems (mechanical, electrical) were all designed with sustainability at the forefront. All lighting is LED and low consumption, coupled with control systems that reduce energy use. All areas are controlled by occupancy sensors.

On the wellness front, extensive biophilia was included in the design, particularly within the workspace, which coupled with direct views to the exterior and an abundance of natural light support a sense of comfort and well being. All closed interior office spaces feature glazed fronts and directly face the exterior glazing. Workspace lighting is indirect and is 90 CRI or greater – reducing strain on the eyes over prolonged periods.

To support a healthy lifestyle, chilled filtered water spigots were installed on every floor – giving all occupants access to the best hydration. Additionally, two “working” treadmill rooms were included, allowing exercise while working.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: June 2018
Project Square Footage: 100,000 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: Culture Develops Community (First Gulf Head Office)

Quality, confidence and attention to detail is the bedrock of real estate developers and landlords reputation. As builders of communities, conveying a high level of professionalism and stability is critical to ensure partners and investors commit to the vision of their next project.

First Gulf had been working out of dated surroundings, which did not serve their needs as a prominent Canadian developer. It was time for a major change.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Suzanne Wilkinson, ARIDO; Tamara Rooks, ARIDO; William Gray, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Design Team: Nicole Hoppe, ARIDO; Anna-Lisa Frank, ARIDO; Alivia Checchia, Intern ARIDO; Bharhavi Selvanathan, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

Having worked with the design team on a variety of successful residential projects, First Gulf decided it was now time to design a new workplace for their staff of 180, located in the celebrated Globe and Mail Centre which they had built.

Through a series of visioning sessions, the interior design team was able to understand the core values and design accordingly so they could be embodied in the new space. Major priorities were employee benefits, increasing visibility among teams and providing access to daylight, while attracting new team members, and aligning the visions of both First Gulf (commercial) and Great Gulf (residential), each with different mandates and leadership, and show their clients their core values as a forward-thinking leader in the development of office, mixed-use, retail, and industrial properties

The new space is a curated experience of the company’s culture, deliberate paths of travel accentuating views, quality design and provocative artwork. Staff and guests of the First Gulf office are invited into a modern office environment with traditional design cues. Natural light flows in and unobstructed panoramic views of the city acting as the backdrop. A balance of work settings for the staff, including open seating, interior offices, and non-bookable privacy rooms allows staff to not only be more visible to each other but also collaborate in more effective ways, leaving behind the former siloed work environment.

With the vision of putting the company culture on display to all who experience the new space, the design team placed their community space and lunchroom – typically hidden behind doors – at the forefront, adjacent to the reception and boardroom facility.

The hospitality lounge is a beautiful space where staff can gather and host clients for events. With a servery tucked away, a cozy built-in dining area, and small studies facing the city for quiet work, it’s a sophisticated space for both socializing and entertaining. It features a double-sided fireplace like that of a hotel lounge, as well as a curated collection of eclectic furniture. The conference rooms and boardroom along the perimeter corridor feature curved glass corners which reflect sleek city views.

The blend of materials speaks to the combined commercial and residential functions of the client with raw textures such as concrete and marble, mixed with natural woods and warm, plush tones.

To meet some of the specific brand messaging goals the design team looked to the art world. An art consultant was hired, and in partnership with the executive teams, very unique and distinctly Canadian pieces were chosen and commissioned to tell a story.

As staff and guests enter, they are greeted by a medallion-like piece by artist Joy Charbonneau who specializes in creating artwork of geological data and bathymetry to highlight features not often appreciated. Created specifically for First Gulf, the Toronto harbour was captured, showcasing what exists below the surface of the water. The piece shows how the city’s waterline has been interrupted by human intervention which also speaks to the work of the developer.

In one of the corridors and seen from inside the boardroom, more custom art can be seen; a sculpture of a life-sized buck by Robert Cram is cast in brass with mechanical air duct coils wrapped around its body, a poignant reminder of the impacts humans have on nature.

The corridor to the coat storage and bathroom is dimly lit and features a beautiful mural of a forest by Tom Fabia, ensuring every pathway is a curated journey. Undoubtedly bold, these progressive works of art start conversations, stir emotions, and help tell First Gulf’s story.

Combining a sophisticated design with provocative works of art, and innovative materials speaks well to who First Gulf is as a company now, and their promising path into the future.

To dig deeper into their true needs, the design team hosted a series of visioning sessions with their executive team, including the presidents of both First Gulf and Great Gulf, to represent the core values of each brand harmoniously in the new space.

First Gulf wanted their people and culture to be at the forefront. Their goal was for their staff to have smiles on their faces upon arrival, and guests to be welcomed right into their culture. In the new office, staff feels more connected to each other, and behave differently in their new space, which truly reflects their impressive industry status and company values.

Open seating allows staff to not only be more visible to each other but also connect in more effective ways. In the more private area of the office, the atmosphere is minimal, bright, and clean. It was important to include a mix of smaller meeting rooms and private telephone rooms to ensure people working in the office have a multitude of options.

Additional ways the firm established wellness principles, employees are offered ergonomic seats and sit-stand desks, which encourage a healthy working postures. Showers are available for staff who bike to work or exercise during their workday. The office is wheelchair accessible, includes hand-motion door openings and unisex wheelchair-accessible washrooms. An outdoor terrace invites employees to take a break from office work and enjoy sun and fresh air.

Sustainable timber construction was also incorporated via innovative new wood technologies. Each modular wall and piece of millwork was fabricated with high precision. The office building is also certified LEED Gold.

Combining a sophisticated design with provocative works of art, and innovative materials speaks to who First Gulf is as a company now, and their path into the future. The staff of 180 which included construction, leasing, administration, and marketing teams felt the difference immediately. The new office has been transformative and the staff felt the difference immediately; feeling more connected to their work and purpose in a new environment they’re proud to call home.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: April 2019
Project Square Footage: 25,000

ARIDO Award Winner: Innovation Hub

The project was a renovation to an existing brick and beam building in downtown Toronto. Sobeys was looking to move their team to a space that would allow employees to collaborate in an agile and mobile work setting.
The objective was to create a highly functional space to support the innovative thinking critical to Sobeys’ future, keep current with today’s trends, and anticipate the future needs of Sobeys customers. The location was specifically chosen to attract the area’s burgeoning tech community that expects all its digital needs to be met to do its best work.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Beverly Horii, ARIDO; Angelique Lucas-Witte, ARIDO
Design Firm: IA Interior Architects
Design Team: Vera Gisarov, ARIDO; Suzanne Campbell, ARIDO; Jayme Rideout, ARIDO; Regan Harder, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Doublespace Photography (Amanda Large & Younes Bounher)

There are three floors in total that make up the Sobeys’ Innovation Hub. Two floors of the space can combine to create a town hall meeting space with screens for graphic content. The inner portion of the floorplate is dedicated to enclosed collaboration areas that can flex to accommodate larger or smaller groups. This area also is the only space that has a dropped acoustic tile ceiling to mitigate the group acoustic level. The enclosure around the central portion is clear glass with a minimal frame to open the central block to perimeter areas when acoustic privacy is not an issue. By placing enclosed areas towards the centre of the floorplate, natural light and views are enjoyed by all.

Original building materials of brick and wood were mixed with warm textiles and dark metal details to celebrate the existing architecture and create a warm and inviting space. By wrapping the main circulation path around centralized glass enclosed meeting rooms, teams are visible to their peers and enable natural light can permeate the entire floor.

An activity based, free address environment accommodates the different needs of staff and customers. The workspace includes work points, project rooms, quiet and open collaboration zones to support introvert/extrovert behaviours, and a work café.

A big effort was made to connect the open mezzanine level to the main space to offer an “outdoor terrace” type of area to the facility. Views that look back to the brick and beam building as well as overlook the main atrium space make this area truly unique.

In collaboration with Sobeys, a user guide was developed in both a digital and print publication format as a “how to use tip sheet” for staff, visitors, and leadership to communicate the expected behaviours and practical uses of the space. Three stand-alone washrooms were added: one universal and two gender neutral. The space includes a wellness room and a prayer room with mediation pillows and mats where employees can retreat for quiet time, privacy, and respite. Lockers of various sizes priovde space for staff to keep their belongings in the office.

Furniture is adaptable and moveable, including writeable surfaces, to support collaboration and teamwork. The post and beam room system allows for future flexibility and integrates hackable components. Acoustics in collaboration areas are sensitively designed for privacy and audibility.

Sobeys is a proudly Canadian business and the design team leveraged local vendors, artist, and artisans from Toronto’s local downtown scene to add components to the space. Work of local artists, craftspeople, designers, and manufacturers was integrated into the design of the space. Custom built furniture such as a harvest table, live edge benches, a bookshelf for the prayer room, and a television console for the gaming area were designed and produced by OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) students. Custom graphics were provided by local artists and digital artwork at the front entry was provided by Alex McCloud. Lastly, vintage furniture and light fixtures were provided by Philz 20th Century, a local vintage store in the Junction.

The final design is a true celebration of national and regional talent coming together to create a space that fosters innovation, complements culture, and will inspire talent for years to come.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: Fall 2020
Project Square Footage: 19.750 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: Spin Master (7th Floor)

As a business unit within a large Canadian toy company, the client wanted a space to attract top talent and convey refined talent of the artists, writers, actors, and producers that their business employs. The design strategy consisted of using a co-create process to evolve the design in an iterative manner, ensuring team diversity, input equity, and an inclusive approach to all stakeholders regardless of rank and file.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Annie Bergeron, ARIDO; Jessica Baird, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gensler
Design Team: Filo Costa, ARIDO; Nichola Chan, ARIDO; Sarah Taylor, Intern ARIDO

Photographer: Ben Rahn

Weekly brainstorm sessions between the client and design teams let everyone involved have a voice in the process ensuring their brand and work to shine.

The new space unfolds like a story narrative – reflecting the work processes of the end-user. An Art Deco inspired wood trimmed lobby, entry marquee, burgundy “red” carpet, and gold vitrine decal signage hint that creatives live here. Going from dark to light through space, the art studio itself is flooded with daylight and accented with soft finishes: the artwork pops and remains centre stage. X’s and O’s lighting harken back to simple childhood games and offer a reminder of the studio’s target audience.

The design team leveraged our world-class research and data gathering tools (vision session, surveys, and interviews), to identify the right ratio of work settings. A thoughtful mix of meeting spaces – varying sizes, casual to formal, enclosed to semi-private to open, stand-up or sit-down – combined with individual work settings ensure individuals can get down to work. Common areas strategically placed directly off reception and away from focused work allow for uproarious laughter and casual collaboration.

Every part of the office design provides the tools needed to collaborate across disciplines: digital technology, whiteboards, blackboards, pin-up space, inspirational content library (like books, magazines, and toys), blank canvases, gallery walls, brainstorm and audio production studios, and p-board storage.

The production studio for voice talent was a key component that needed to be placed strategically and noisy base building systems were re-routed to ensure sound quality. The design team engaged audio acoustic specialists to deliver this component.

Open ceilings were strategically located to help conceal the Class B building air distribution system revealing a flawless open effect. Exposed columns we kept clear of visually distracting services distribution. Staggered tendering, pre-ordering, and strategic reuse were used to meet the budget and even tighter schedule.

Appropriate separation between heads-down focus work and collaborative work ensures the employees’ productive capital can be maximized, along with their enjoyment of the space. The entry sequence progresses from active zones, transitioning into the quieter design studios where creative concentrated work occurs.

Staff have many options when they want to engage with others, and an on-floor café provides ample opportunity for impromptu conversations. The children’s book library offers creators an area to disconnect from the digital world and get inspired by illustrated adventures. Digital content is also available through the space for visitors to preview new animated shows – and old classics – when the need to be transported away to another world strikes.

The space meets LEED Certified standards wellness was carefully considered, with access to daylight, quiet reflection spaces, and the inclusion of a lush plant program that was the top employee-requested feature. Greenery throughout provides a soft biophilic element.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: July 2019
Project Square Footage: 19,605 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: Richardson Wealth

We were approached by Richardson Wealth to help with the fit-up of their new space during a business and cultural shift within their organization. The wealth management firm sought a space that could support employees while being a sophisticated milieu for hosting clients.

Category: WORK

Interior Designer: Jessica Gozdzierski, ARIDO
Design Firm: IBI Group Architects (Canada) Inc.
Design Team: Roxanne Van Dam, Intern, ARIDO; Daniel Brandley, Intern, ARIDO

Photographer: Ema Peter Photography

The new space is efficient and adaptable, and suit the ever-changing needs of technology and the business. Overall, the project achieved the client’s vision of a space that would allow collaboration amongst teams, address the evolving advisor-client relationship and provide an enhanced employee experience.

The need for a designated client meeting space became a high priority item for the team. We recognized that if designed properly it would launch Richardson Wealth into the forefront of their industry by providing a unique experience for clients and employees alike.

We set out to incorporate a client centre that would encompass Richardson Wealth’s brand along with the ideal number of varying types of meeting spaces, with technology seamlessly integrated.

With the client relationship and experience in mind, it also became important to us to provide an entertainment space within the Client Centre. To achieve this, we incorporated a multi-purpose meeting room that opens up to the reception space to allow for larger client events and employee town halls. The incorporation of different types of multi-purpose areas was pivotal in achieving the most efficient use of space throughout.

The client centre is welcoming, easily navigated, and provides all fundamental amenities including a designated client coffee bar, client washroom, and a catering kitchen to aid large events.

The open space also boasts several seating vignettes to ensure visitors immediately feel welcome and can meet with their financial advisor in the open area or within one of multiple meeting rooms. The largest boardroom is adjacent to the open waiting area so the moveable glass partition which separates these spaces can be raised to create an even larger event space.

With employee wellness being a top priority for Richardson Wealth, we were sure to implement various design strategies throughout the office space to capture this need. We made certain that the employee lounge/servery was placed in a very desirable spot of the floor plate. It offers employees the best views of the cityscape while also offering them various collaborative settings within to ensure communication and team building remain ongoing.

A member of the leadership team at Richardson Wealth praised the new space, saying, “We now have a modern, functional office space that is the envy of our industry in Vancouver. Staff are thrilled with our new space even though we’ve had limit capacity during the pandemic. Can’t wait to be full time in the office again.“

Project Details:

Project Location: Vancouver, BC
Project Completion Date: September 2019
Project Square Footage: 20,000 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: OPG Workplace Transformation

In 2017 Ontario Power Generation created their new One OPG mandate of refined business practices and a culture more closely connected to their purpose and values. They were committed to redefining the organization and had a bold vision for their future.

Category: WORK

Interior Designers: Michelle Berry, ARIDO; Jillian Warren, ARIDO; Daniel Norwood, ARIDO
Design Firm: Figure3
Design Team: Michela Kochanski, ARIDO

Photographer: Steve Tsai Photography

Having worked out of their existing office since the 1970’s (450 employees across seven floors and approx. 200K square feet), it no longer represented OPG as a progressive organization. Their four different energy sectors worked in silos, and much of the space was inefficient and underutilized. Staff also felt isolated by high partitions restricting sight lines to fellow coworkers.

A workplace transformation was needed to support and align with this culture shift, resulting in the need for a redesign from the ground up. Their physical work environment needed to reflect and support how OPG planned to streamline their business practices and systems.

The new space promotes a greater sense of ownership among staff, allowing the organization to be more performance-oriented, collaborative and demonstrate industry leadership. The new workspace is modern, beautiful and open. Natural light now shines in throughout the space like it couldn’t before, allowing more connection to the outside world.

The design language throughout connects to the progressive values of OPG and the purpose of their business, namely power, science, technology, and natural resources. The reception desk is made of steel tubes to mimic the nuclear calandria cooling tubes, The Boardwalk (an open environment along the window spanning the length of the floor) is fashioned with outdoor furniture as would be seen in a park, a feature wall includes hard hats from their power plants and partnering organizations, display shelving features artifacts and historical pieces from OPG’s history, and artwork by Indigenous artists adorns the walls. Environmental graphics in meeting rooms depict stylized, abstract images of earth elements as well as their other facilities.

With such a major transformation, the design team employed its proprietary intensive research process to peel back the layers and uncover OPG’s needs and wants in order to deliver a strategic approach to support a reimagined workplace.

Over three months of study, the design team completed an extensive strategy report which would serve as the design blueprint for OPG’s new space. Feedback from staff indicated they wanted to experience more empowerment, more connection, more support, and more pride in their workplace. Feedback from the leadership team indicated they wanted their staff to be more stimulated, engaged, nimble, and for the workplace to be unified with a feeling of trust.

A major shift for OPG was the decision to go with unassigned seating. This gave staff more choice about where they work, allowing for more opportunity for their departments to collaborate, individual brand growth, and exposure to more knowledge sharing and leadership. This supported their vision of Facilitated Leadership and growth potential across the organization, and staff now feel like their skills and talent are more recognized and valued.

The strategy report will continue to be a useful tool, serving as a template for all future workplace transformation projects throughout their real estate portfolio.

The model recognizes how energy radiates from certain key spaces, and informed the organization of the primary, secondary and community spaces. This plan protects access to daylight and views from all primary workspaces. Primary spaces are visible and connected, configurable to personal needs, and offer a level of focus and protection. Secondary spaces cater to an array of energy levels and facilitate ease of connection and sharing of information. Community spaces offer a balance between quiet and communal, and are welcoming and flexible, offering the ability to connect with each other and re-energize. Support spaces let staff move between areas and generate and absorb the organization’s buzz.

Imagery, brand, graphics, and natural resources are incorporated into OPG’s new workplace to embody the societal impacts that the organization has on the lives and livelihoods of Ontarians. The decommissioning of OPG’s no longer needed furniture was accomplished in a socially and environmentally meaningful way through a re-use buy-back program. In the process, they recycled more than 380 workstations, 500 chairs, 28 meeting tables, and 350 file cabinets. These assets (the equivalent of 133.40 metric tonnes) were donated, recycled, or diverted from landfill with an aim to result in a Zero Carbon Impact.

OPG shifted from 7 floors to 2, from 246 private offices to 0, while doubling community space from 14% to 28%. They sacrificed much space with the new design, but the resulting space was designed much more effectively, to influence employee behaviours much more positively, and to finally align with their goals.

OPG is working to dismantle the ingrained hierarchy by creating a sense of community and environment where connections and information can be freely shared between employees. This facilitated leadership approach is humanized and unified. OPG’s leadership transitioned from siloed and process oriented, to a human-centric, result driven organization.

It has been a true workplace transformation and the impact was felt immediately, with first impressions from their returning staff including exclamations such as, “I feel like I’m working at a different company.” “This transformation also supports their larger initiative to reduce their real estate footprint and reduce the use of commercial leased space, thus reducing costs that will benefit the Ontario ratepayers. It’s a new era for OPG, and they are thrilled with their new workplace which is now finally aligned with their values and vision for the future.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: 2019
Project Square Footage: 110,000 square feet