Ædifica – 407 McGill
By : Ædifica
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Interior Design : Grand Winner
Categories : Office / Office 5,400 - 54,000 sq.ft. (500 - 5 000 sq. m.) : Platinum Winner
After 11 years in its offices at 606 Cathcart, and in the midst of the pandemic, the opportunity to renew the lease was a catalyst for deeper reflection on the purpose of an office in the context of hybrid work and a complete rethinking of how teams function as a direct and inescapable consequence of the profound changes that the pandemic has brought to our society.
One of the most visible impacts of hybrid work is the seating ratio. Since our employees were all equipped with a “private” office at home, the design team identified early on in the process that the seating ratio and typologies should be geared towards meeting and collaboration spaces, and that mobility allowed for working anywhere in the office. The result is that the final layout would be composed of 30% workstations and 70% seating for meetings, collaboration and socialization.
From the outset, the design team had a goal to create an inclusive space, a gathering place for our employees, partners and clients. This space would be free of the usual conventions of office design (reception desk with adjoining meeting rooms, open-plan workstations and closed offices).
The team imagined a space that blurs the boundaries between a hotel lobby, a creative studio and a residential loft. The tone of the space, which we described as “northern warmth,” draws on the iconic material palette that speaks to us most as a collective: concrete, stone, wood, and metal. These materials, raw and authentic, are balanced by the abundant presence of vegetation and the framing of spectacular views of the neighborhood, especially with the late day light.
The experiential journey begins in the elevator lobby on the 8th floor. The opening of the elevator doors reveals a long solid wood bench salvaged from an old railroad bridge leaning against a wall dressed with concrete panels. On the floor, black and white terrazzo tiles are a reminder of the building’s original lobbies. The atmosphere is muted with low lighting on the concrete wall, revealing the rough texture while the walls and ceiling are painted in dark aubergine. The frameless glass door reveals a 26-foot-long steel structure on which 32 planters are placed, lit by LED strips. This structure, a true green wall, separates the checkroom from the bistro. The checkroom is hidden behind 4 large hot rolled steel doors. On the other side of the metal shelves is the bistro, a 1,300 sq. ft. multifunctional space surrounded by the same concrete panels as the elevator lobby. Part art gallery, part reception area and part café, it is anchored by a 29′ x 10′ central island covered with burnt wood planks in which our chef works to prepare a variety of meals for the Ædifica family every day.
From the bistro, collaborative spaces and workstations are deployed on either side of the central core. A total of seven (7) meeting rooms of various sizes (5 to 14 seats) have been distributed on the floor to create physical separations between the six (6) work areas. These can accommodate teams of 6 to 12 people on islands of white tables, 12 of which are adjustable “sit/stand”, set on a wooden floor. Constellations of acoustic felt slats float above the table islands, contributing to acoustic and visual comfort. This same concern for acoustics is found in the meeting rooms and call lounges. Here, the felt becomes a covering on the walls and ceiling to create a striking effect of silence.
The material library occupies a central place, located immediately adjacent to the bistro. This open, intentionally “crowded” 680 sq. ft. space serves as both a research and brainstorming area, with a central white quartz island nearly 17 feet long. It is equipped with a Bluetooth-controlled dynamic lighting system so that material samples can be evaluated under different lighting temperatures.
To support the company’s mission, numerous strategies were implemented to incorporate wellness and resilience into the design: space planning optimizes looping circulation paths while the high-performance ventilation system ensures air quality. In addition, an app allows you to reserve workstations and find out who will be in the office.
At the end of the tour, in the north annex of the building, is the agora. This 2150 sq. ft. space can comfortably accommodate nearly 100 guests. A long 28-foot communal table set along the north side windows serves as a gathering place for meals and team meetings. Three lounges and a cluster of bar height tables with stools complete the layout. A meeting place, dining room, cocktail bar and multi-purpose loft, the quality of the light and the beauty of the views make it a space of choice for working in a “third place”.