When Steelcase looked at its Canadian real estate strategy it knew it needed to make a change to better communicate its brand, leverage real estate, engage employees, and connect with customers. Working within this programmatic context, the objective was to create a sustainable, dynamic, interactive and technologically sophisticated workplace in the unusual proportions of the existing architecture - a long, narrow, three-storey high penthouse space in Toronto’s downtown core that had sat vacant for thirty years.
Three sculptural geometric `pod` elements form the backbone of the design, both mitigating and emphasizing the height and width of the space. The pods work together to create a different kind of workplace, reflective of the Steelcase brand and the research on which it is built. Articulating specific program elements -- a classroom (`Learning Center’), a teleconferencing area (‘Oasis’) and a lounge (‘Reveal’) -- the pods create a dynamic and transformative architectural experience that shifts the perception of the space, engaging visitors both with the architecture, program, and the skyline.
Steelcase’s research into the workplace and the new modality of the mobile worker is manifested in the project. The regular rules of the desk and its relationship to the office tower are reconsidered. WorkLife is designed as an open office rather than a traditional showroom; all but 200sf of back-of-house space is shared by staff and clients, with Steelcase’s Toronto sales team working at the same workstations and furniture groupings shown to clients. Blending the staff and client experience into one coherent space reflects the company’s mandate for a dynamic and flexible workplace, one that alters the perception of the space, engaging visitors both with the architecture and program, and the city skyline -- in a way that differs from the typical office tower experience.