Deloitte’s New Quebec Digs by Arney Fender Katsalidis

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28 September 2015

Deloitte’s New Quebec Digs by Arney Fender Katsalidis

By Mallory Jindra (office insight)

Photo: James Brittain

London-based architecture and interiors practice Arney Fender Katsalidis recently completed a 160,000 square foot regional headquarters space in Montreal, QC, for internationally renowned professional services firm Deloitte. Aside from gorgeously provocative aesthetics and a seemingly endless number of workspaces to choose from, the design provides Deloitte employees and clients alike with a space that provokes them to take part in a progressive workplace strategy with ambitious goals.

Deloitte required regional head-quarters that would enable it to use its workplace as a business tool to realize its aim of becoming the employer of choice across its myriad business units, set largely under two groups: tax and audit on one side, and consulting on the other.

The distinct personalities of the two groups presented a design challenge with many layers; Deloitte wanted to use its new space to foster new avenues of creativity, in-novation and productivity, while still offering tailored spaces for all types of work and all types of workers.

On the tax and audit side, a more conservative culture is punctuated by more focus work in general. On the consulting side, a younger, more organic character underscores all-angles problem solving and heightened collaboration.

Arney Fender Katsalidis formed the tax and consulting giant’s new work-place around four key components, which came out of an intense work-place strategy research effort:

>Deloitte on Display. The firm wanted to “lift the lid of the carhood” to let clients see Deloitte more clearly and on a personal level. Arney Fender Katsalidis’ design maximizes the spaces available to both staff and clients, and also exposes employees to each other more often – so that tax employees are linked to audit employees, who are linked to consulting employees, and so on.

>Linked Landscape. Deloitte wanted to foster connections on all levels, and Arney Fender Katsalidis provided for this with both vertical design elements (via an exposed, 5-story atrium and central stairway) and horizontal ones (via careful space planning that provides optimal odds for people to bounce into each other; for example, there are only two coffee points per floor). In addition to the obvious vertical connection it provides, the central stairway was purposely built with large landings to welcome pauses between employees and clients who see each other in passing.

>Flexible Futures. Flexibility to accommodate in-house remodeling throughout the years was of utmost importance to Deloitte. To minimize the amount of churn and change in the future, the Arney Fender Katsalidis de-sign team built most of the spaces on each floor using demountable modular wall systems by DIRTT. Additionally, the modular Knoll furniture systems used can be adjusted to each department’s needs and include L-shaped, bench and boomerang (120-degree) desk setups.

>Wellbeing Workplace. The new Deloitte offices take wellbeing far be-yond basic fitness facilities, providing employees with a all-inclusive well-ness centre, healthy food choices in a variety of spaces, and space planning, workstation design and amenity options that naturally inspire movement.

Located in Montreal between Windsor Station and the Bell Centre, the Deloitte Tower was named for its anchor tenant. Deloitte occupies seven floors of the 24-floor, 514,000 square foot building. At the core of the spatial design are two key features: a full-height glazed atrium uniting five floors, and a central stair that links all floors.

In addition to the four workplace strategy components, Arney Fender Katsalidis’ design strategy focused on the creation of an agile workplace, where the entire workforce is completely mobile with no established workstations. Each person has one drawer for filing, as well as a personal locker. While the strategy is common in startup culture and quickly gaining ground in many other industries, the agile workplace is still a clear step away from workplace design currently found in traditional professional services firms.

The new space now offers more than 18 types of workspaces – moving far be-yond a standard three-workspace model of office, workstation and meeting room.

The firm’s 1,200 employees can choose to work at personal workstations of all types, including those with sit-stand workstations and treadmill desks, as well as quiet rooms with closed doors and open spaces that are designated quiet zones. In particular, users gravitated toward spaces referred to as “work with a view” stations – that is, comfy, cocoon-like areas with wingback chairs located three-to-four feet from a window.

“This idea was based on research we’ve conducted that shows that when humans need to focus on something, it often helps the brain to pause and move from a small-scale range of vision to infinity range views,” said Matthew Kobylar, director of interior design and workplace strategy at Arney Fender Katsalidis. “These ‘work with a view’ stations reinforce that research.”

Collaborative work environments include open and semi-open ad-hoc meeting booths and tables, and shared space hubs at key intersection points across the office. Across both individual-al and shared work areas, Deloitte uses state-of-the-art technology, including Bluetooth Wi-Fi, wall-mounted meeting room reservation tablets, smartboards that facilitate productivity, 3D printers and sliding whiteboard displays. For example, every wall in the office’s series of “giant brainstorming rooms” is writable.

In a work environment of Deloitte’s size, communal and social amenities are expected to enhance and exhibit the firm’s robust corporate offering. Arney Fender Katsalidis provided employees with a number of lounges, cafes, bistros, outdoor green space, and a wellness centre that includes a fitness studio offering a variety of classes, showering facilities, reflection space, physician’s consulting space, and massage therapists.

Aesthetically, the design employs a fractal geometry to reflect the plurality of working styles and multi-dimension-al character of the firm. Folded planes of glass, wood, stone and metal build emphasis on a rich mix of materials, textures, patterns and scales. To mirror the contrasting characters of the tax/auditing and consulting business groups, tailored finishes are juxtaposed against raw finishes. Users experience smooth stainless steel, copper, silk and leather in some areas, and distressed timber, raw steel, tin ceiling panels and chalkboard panels in others.

“We wanted the spaces to have a blend of the tailored, sophisticated elements that reference the more traditional tax and auditing business, with the raw, industrial elements that reference the consulting side,” said Mr. Kobylar.

Aside from encouraging healthy movement and spontaneous connections as staff move between floors, the staircase, in a vibrant lime green that riffs on Deloitte’s corporate colours, also reinforces the geometric focus and adds a sculptural element to the space. All floors have a common core that is linked by the staircase, including a café, external-facing breakout spaces, a specific floor colour code and a furniture theme.

“We brought colour into the space as a wayfinding mechanism,” said Mr. Kobylar. “Each floor, as you come off of the stair, has a landing point that introduces the colour heavily. Then, as you move more into the workings of the floor, you see that colour subtly incorporated into the furnishings and graphics.”

For example, each floor features large wall “super graphics” of historical Montreal and Deloitte images in black and white with tints of each floor’s respective colour.
Also noteworthy is the design team’s use of many classic Knoll furniture pieces, which often introduced a residential quality to their spaces.

“There were some pieces that Deloitte wanted their employees to fall in love with,” said Mr. Kobylar. “People have told us, ‘Oh, I really wish I had this furniture in my home.’ That’s really the best compliment. People at Deloitte can work anywhere. It was important for us to make this space their number one choice to work.”

The Deloitte Tower is also notable for its sustainability component; Arney Fender Katsalidis notes its status as the first major office project in Montreal to achieve LEED Platinum certification that, according to the project materials, is “partly thanks to the flexible design which reduces the organization’s overall real estate foot-print, allowing space to be used only as needed. The building also features energy-efficient lighting and cooling systems that help reduce overhead costs and emissions. Bike storage encourages staff to ride to work instead of drive, and employees have the power to control the temperature of their workstations by turning vents on or off based on their preferences.”

Arney Fender Katsalidis’ work at Deloitte created an immersive culture for employees and clients to splash into, with continuous reinforcement of the firm’s goals for its new space. The new offices make it easy for users to take advantage of new avenues of creativity, innovation and productivity.


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