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.

Opening up room for collaboration

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce approached LWG Principal Marc Letellier with a challenge. In redesigning their office space, they wanted him to create a space that would remove the silos within their organization and create a variety of settings to encourage interaction and collaboration. The former space was intensely enclosed, with a high degree of private offices.

Interior Designer: Marc Letellier, ARIDO
Design Firm: LWG Architectural Interiors
Photographer: Kevin Bélanger

Rebalancing the distribution of space was a key to the success for this client. Space has been opened up to create an interactive work environment, both in the open office area (unified by a single linear LED light fixture) to a large reception zone and adjacent lounge used for hospitality functions. These are balanced with updated meeting rooms and privacy rooms.

LWG Interior Designer Gabrielle Leamaire, ARIDO was a key design team member for this project, developing conceptual elements, working drawings and assisting throughout the construction period.

Stone, water, and sky bring calm to a bustling Yorkville office

Interior Designer: Theo West-Parks, ARIDO
Design Team: Shannon Todd
Design Firm: Westparks + Associates
Photographer: Steve Tsai

The design team was faced with re-visioning a well-established international executive search firm. The client wanted to downsize and rebrand in their newly purchased space, with a raw, collaborative aesthetic, and provide a calm ambience to a business working in a frenetic field. With a desire to move beyond the traditional private office environment, planning came down to millimetres to accommodate the twenty-eight staff and partner functional requirements.

The design intent was to provide a flexible, and user friendly environment to address the brand and future business trends, with materials chosen in a simple palette of natural colours to bring stone, water and sky into the enclosed space.

The reception desk and elevator walls are panelled in natural ash ribbing, with drywall ceilings and polished concrete floors for light and material simplicity. Enclosed interview rooms are defined with movable frosted glass walls, carpet tile, and flannel acoustic panels. The frosted glass wall system gives long term flexibility to the space and allows the ambient light to spill into the small interview enclosures.

The ceiling was left open in the staff areas to let natural light flood the space and maintain and a feeling of openness in a tight collaborative layout. Simple, sculptural and playful lighting was chosen, visually integrating with the exposed beams and fireproofed deck. Installed carpet tile within the general office areas blend with the concrete and create a sense of warmth.

Ergonomic office furniture was chosen to fit multiple users and lessen the impact of the visual occupancy footprint. The coffee bar, kitchen and lounge spaces were designed to provide a respite from office areas, and connectivity for ongoing informal meetings and town hall gatherings. All lighting was a dimmable LED and material choices were selected for environmental and energy efficiencies.

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.

‘My North, My Home’, a design for the defence and security sector

Aligning with their “My North, My Home” campaign, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), a major Canadian employer and voice for the defence and security sector, retained Parallel 45 Design Group Ltd. to transform their existing urban Ottawa space into something clean, bright, with expansive areas to gather and collaborate.

Interior Designer: Liz Miller, ARIDO, Emilie Gauthier, Intern ARIDO
Design Firm: Parallel 45 Design Group Ltd.
Project Photographer: Justin Van Leeuwen

Transitioning it from a heavily partitioned space to an open and functional environment, was the main focus of the redesign, along with the appeal to up and coming talent.

Through the use of simple materials, textures, and natural elements such as wood, Parallel 45 Design Group achieved a space that not only represented their brand but kept budget at the forefront.

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.”