The flourishing workforce of Microsoft necessitated the tech giant to reposition and expand their Vancouver offices into a newly renovated 142,000 SF department store in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The new office houses several of Microsoft’s business units, but was also designed for future adaptability as the business model transforms. The building remodel discarded the solid fac¸ade in favor of a glass curtain wall, which displays spectacular views of the city and surrounding landscape. Inhabiting the top two floors of the building, the office takes full advantage of these expansive views.
Microsoft’s culture encourages employees to be curious, creative, and collaborative thinkers. Their new office was designed to foster this ethos as well as showcase the company with a bold, adaptable environment that stimulates teamwork, productivity, and individual discovery. This led the design team to selecting an open layout, which allows employees to work together more efficiently. Total employee flexibility was the main project objective, as was a sense of community. The workspace is supported by open and enclosed collaboration spaces nearby to facilitate workflow needs. Pops of vibrant color punctuate the collaborative spaces and strategically located social gathering areas, such as formal and informal meeting rooms, large meeting areas, lounge hubs, private phone rooms, and touch-down worktables.
The design team drew upon the distinct, natural setting as well as the natural landmarks of Canada’s Lower Mainland to inform the architecture. The airy, branch-like ceiling structures and the more grounded, boulder-like enclosures are a visual nod to the canopies and roots of native tree species. The team also utilized an existing void in the upper level’s floor slab to introduce a communicating stair that spans and connects the two floors—as the trunk of a tree connects its disparate parts.