Designing Our Toronto Studio

Toronto, Ontario

Developed for our own Toronto studio, this project is a transformation not only of a workplace, but of a design environment and culture.

While occupying a generous footprint, our previous studio was compromised in form and function, and lacked the spaces required for an interdisciplinary and creative team. A data-driven design approach allowed us to reimagine the vision, program, and design of our studio while substantially increasing efficiency. The new studio is a living laboratory that fuels design innovation while prioritizing wellness, inclusivity, and sustainability.

Core Values: Exemplifying Our Brand

Our move from a previous mid-town location was driven by three goals:

  • to encourage alternate modes of transport for employees, prospective employees, and clients, increasing health while decreasing emissions;
  • to strengthen our 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.
“We wanted to be honest about the way we work. Lots of people only see the finished product at the end of the day, but we wanted to show the whole process.”

The design process began with a comprehensive usage analysis, demonstrating that 63% of workstations were occupied at peak times and more than 80% of meetings involved four people or fewer. This data, in conjunction with visioning, piloting, and prototyping, revealed the potential of transitioning to a fully free-address workspace. The new studio accommodates 90 employees at 60 workstations – a change that allowed us to reduce overall floor area while increasing the range and diversity of workspaces on offer.

Design Concept

The design leverages the raw qualities of the underlying architecture to create an inspiring new environment. A finely crafted millwork chassis defines three spaces, organizes cellular programming, and provides a contrast to the robust base building. The chassis acts as both spatial threshold and showcase for the firm’s work and process.

Our open studio is a “ME” space of 60 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 studio.

Globe and mail
What happens when architects design their own studio?
Walking the Talk
A natural material palette reflects our commitment to sustainability and material health. Every material used was screened to exclude ingredients with known or suspected health impacts, setting a new benchmark for transparency.
Occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and 100% LED lighting reduce the office’s overall lighting power density by 38%, while ultra-low-flow fixtures reduce water use to 40% below the LEED v4 baseline.
A Living Lab

Through a radical approach to program, the new studio accommodates 35% more employees in 25% less area while providing new spaces and tools for interdisciplinary design work. The flexibility of the lounge and salon spaces has enabled us to host a regular program of social and professional events, and the office has become a case study for clients and organizations interested in transforming their own environments.

Today, the studio is a living laboratory that fuels design innovation and excellence while prioritizing wellness, inclusivity and sustainability—meeting our programmatic needs while embodying our most important ideas and values.

Project Team

D’Arcy Arthurs
Andrew Frontini
Janine Grossmann
Jon Loewen