UK Practice Develops Strategy and Design for Deloitte in Montreal for Agile Workplace of the Future

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18 September 2015

UK Practice Develops Strategy and Design for Deloitte in Montreal for Agile Workplace of the Future

By Arney Fender Katsalidis

Photo: James Brittain

London-based, architecture and interiors practice Arney Fender Katsalidis has completed a 160,000sqft office space in Quebec, Canada for internationally renowned professional services firm Deloitte. Located in Montreal between Windsor Station and the Bell Centre, La tour Deloitte was named for its anchor tenant. Deloitte occupies seven floors of the 24-floor, 514,000sqft building.

Deloitte required a regional headquarters that would be used as a business tool to realise its aim of becoming the employer of choice across its myriad of business units. Deloitte needed a space that fostered creativity, innovation and productivity, but that also provided tailored spaces for all types of work and all types of workers in their multidisciplinary firm.

Earle Arney, Chief Executive of Arney Fender Katsalidis, notes, “The charge from Deloitte was clear. Choose a building with great bones and transform the base building into a highly connected workplace. What resulted was a two year journey, selecting and modifying a typical high rise in downtown Montreal and giving life to the space by bold and thoughtful adaptions to Deloitte’s seven floors.”

Deloitte’s office now offers more than 18 types of workspaces – a stark contrast to the standard three-workspace model of office, workstation and meeting room which they had persisted with for decades. Arney Fender Katsalidis’ design strategy focused on the creation of an agile workplace, which is a clear step away from the offices of traditional professional service firms and an innovative feature for the Canadian market. It allows Deloitte’s Montreal office to be an instrument of business, attracting talent, competing with contemporaries and enabling effective collaboration and relationship-building for staff and clients alike.

There are personal workstations, quiet rooms with closed doors, treadmill desks, sit-stand workstations, ‘work with a view’ stations and a dedicated quiet zone. Collaborative work environments include open/semi-open ad hoc meeting booths and tables and shared space hubs at key intersection points across the office. Across both individual and shared work areas, state-of-the-art technology, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, wall-mounted meeting room reservation tablets and smartboards facilitate productivity.

Arney Fender Katsalidis has also provided communal and social spaces, including a number of lounges, cafes, bistros, and outdoor green space, a wellness centre that includes fitness facilities with changing rooms and reflection space, enhancing the firm’s robust corporate offering.

Aesthetically, the design employs a fractal geometry to reflect the plurality of working styles and multi-dimensional character of the firm. This geometry is evident in folded planes of glass, wood, stone and metal. Additionally, tailored finishes are juxtaposed against raw finishes that further ensure that the complexity and range of the firm’s service offerings have informed the style of the workplace. Accordingly, we see finely crafted stainless steel, copper, silk and leather against distressed timber, raw steel, tin ceiling panels and chalkboard panels.

Five of the floors are united by a full-height glazed atrium. A feature staircase in vibrant Deloitte-green encourages spontaneous conversations and connections as staff move between floors and adds a sculptural element to the space that is dramatic and brand-themed. 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. Importantly, the modular Knoll furniture systems used can be adjusted to individual needs and include L-shaped, bench and boomerang (120-degree) desk setups.

Matthew Kobylar, Director of Interiors and Workplace Strategy at Arney Fender Katsalidis explains, “Deloitte’s business units are varied in how they work and the space has to adapt to each business unit’s typical work style. Creating a blueprint that is flexible and adaptable was paramount to the strategy and design for this project.”

La tour Deloitte 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.

In addition to strategy and interior design work, Arney Fender Katsalidis contributed to several alterations of the base building design. Collaboration with the construction team and developer ensured that Deloitte benefited from maximum use of the building space and that architectural elements worked seamlessly with the innovative interior design. It was a joined up approach to architecture and interiors that ultimately has created a sophisticated and linked landscape for this workplace of the future.


DESIGNER’S PERSPECTIVE: Insight from Earle Arney, Chief Executive of Arney Fender Katsalidis

“I began working with Deloitte three years ago and it quickly became clear that their ambitious business plan targets would not be achieved by growth in any one business unit but rather, by ‘growing the space between the business units’ – as Frank Vettese their national CEO put it. We were compelled by the idea of how creating a high performance workplace could encourage collaboration, chance encounters between people from various business units within Deloitte, as well as generate a sense of activity and transparency within the organisation. The result is a highly connected workplace in which a ‘vertical village common’ or ‘vertical high street’ visibly and physically connects the entire firm.”

“The process began while I was at my previous firm. I assisted Deloitte in selecting a building with great bones and then transforming it into an instrument to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. We selected a typical high rise in Montreal and gave it life by cutting an atrium through all major floors. This atrium is flooded with light and cafes and meeting rooms are located around it perimeter on every level to encourage and foster interaction. This strategic series of moves became the backbone of the project and has resulted in creating an eventful and inspiring journey vertically through the office landscape.”

“Deloitte realised the enormous value that the atrium would create and were so invested in the returns it would yield that they were willing to pay rent on the unoccupyable floor area the atrium removes.”

“We partnered with Deloitte to rethink the way the organisation works. There are a vast number of business units that make up the Deloitte family and many demand a fundamentally different way of working. We knew that not only one desk type would not suit everyone, many did not require a desk.”

“Creating the agile workplace saved Deloitte money, as the firm reduced its overall space requirement by two floors. Had Deloitte employed a traditional workplace design approach, they would be paying considerably more rent.”

For more information, please contact Margaret Ravenscroft at ING Media,, + 44 (0) 20 7247 8334

About Arney Fender Katsalidis

Arney Fender Katsalidis enables people to work, live and play better. They do this by creating beautiful buildings and inspirational interiors. They are a boutique global design firm with an integrated approach to architecture, interiors and art. They have a specific focus on residential, hotel, workplace and cultural sectors to ensure they are specialist in what they do. Globally, Arney Fender Katsalidis’ 150 design professionals work from three studios – London, Melbourne and Sydney. The firm has projects across Canada and in the USA, UK, Middle East, Asia and Australia.