HOK Toronto

The reception area is arranged like a hotel lobby and concierge station, with lounge chairs and tables that accommodate break-out meetings. Photography by Richard Johnson

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Considering their move an opportunity to showcase the latest in design thinking, designers at HOK Toronto created a canvas for the firm to experiment with workplace concepts in their new studio on the 22nd floor of a downtown high-rise. The eight-sided 16,000-square-foot interior is home to 150 total staff, including architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and interior designers. The configuration provides for maximum flexibility with hospitality-inspired vignettes that encourage collaboration and a relaxed feel.

A hotel-like reception area welcomes visitors and is also used by HOK staff for casual meetings. Immediately adjacent are three conference rooms, a lounge, and an area that doubles as the cafe and library. The multifunctional cafe—which includes an open kitchen, communal tables, and high-density shelving—hosts town halls, lunch-and-learn sessions, and other impromptu gatherings. Materials and fabrics are stored on the shelving, and discussions related to project finishes occur at nearby tables. “You’re compelled to keep [the materials] organized, since the shelving is exposed,” explains Sharon Turner, a senior designer with HOK.

An open studio, which wraps around most of the central core, employs what HOK calls the “agile station” concept—a variation on hoteling in which employees have multiple seating choices, with sit-stand desks throughout. In planning for efficiency, HOK completed an internal survey; results indicated that about 30 employees were out of the office so frequently that 20 nondedicated seats would suffice for their workspace needs.

A warm, inviting environment
“Our previous office was an open environment, but it was longer and narrower,” Turner explains. That more siloed setup has been remedied by the new space’s compact floor plate. As a bonus, large windows with panoramic views of the city provide employees with access to natural light. The potentially awkward angular corners of the floor were furnished with informal seating and small tables for on-the-fly team meetings.

The designers exposed much of the building’s structure to gain ceiling height. Tight floor-to-floor dimensions meant that a dropped ceiling would have allowed for a maximum height of only 8 feet 4 inches. “That wasn’t something we could live with,” Turner says.

A warm but neutral palette is maintained throughout. Against vinyl wood-plank flooring, carpet tiles and area rugs lend color and can be easily updated. The same is true for the pillows that adorn the couches and antique pieces that add personality to the interior. As Senior Vice President Lisa Fulford-Roy notes, “We’re infusing hospitality into what we do.”

who Architect/interior designer: HOK. Project team: Daniela Barbon; Andrea Fontaine; Lisa Fulford-Roy; Jim Janssen; Jamie Khan; Wayne Kelusky; Clarissa Lam; Rob Sannella; Caitlin Turner; Sharon Turner. Contractor: Gino Vettoretto; Jeff Buffet. Consultants: Spark AV. Lighting: TPL Lighting. Engineering: Smith and Andersen; EXP.
what Wallcoverings: Sherwin Williams. Movable walls: Moderco. Hard flooring: Armstrong. Flooring LVT Carpet/carpet tile: Interface. Ceilings: Armstrong. Interior lighting: FluxWerx; RioPlus; Absolux; Flos; Restoration Hardware; HOK Product Design Lighting. Hardware: Restoration Hardware. Doors: Bliss Noram Custom. Architectural glass/ glazing: Inscape. Workstations: Inscape. Seating: Herman Miller; Gus; Knoll; Coalesse; Geiger; Vitra. Upholstery: Maharam. Tables: Prismatique; Restoration Hardware; Svend Neilsen; Restoration Hardware. Files: Haworth. Shelving: Space Saver. Architectural/custom woodworking: Svend Nielsen. Plumbing fixtures/fittings: Kohler. 

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