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The Globe and Mail

Quadrangle Architects give tired 1990s building a creative facelift

Tour Toronto architectural firm's new home - a 'broken building' that has been given a fresh spin better suited to modern work

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After its previous tenant moved out, the 30,000-square-feet of space on the seventh floor of 901 King St. West in Toronto looked vast and unloved when Ted Shore, a principal at Quadrangle Architects Ltd., took his first tour. Despite acres of dirty beige carpet and acoustic-tile ceilings that significantly reduced the interior's height, the firm decided the building had ‘good bones’ and could be refitted to become its new home.

Quadrangle Architects

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Big windows and a central atrium were important plus factors for Quadrangle in making the decision to move to 901 King West. 'It’s rejuvenating to have the sunlight. That’s really important for people in the creative industry,' says Quadrangle principal Caroline Robbie, who was involved in planning the transformation of the space for the company’s studios.

Quadrangle Architects

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The renovations removed the drop ceilings to increase ceiling height and natural materials were used throughout. This meeting area known at the Annex is available for impromptu meetings. Created by Castor, the light fixtures feature shades moulded from recycled Quadrangle architecture drawings. Duct work exposed by removing the ceiling tiles was left unpainted but the ceiling itself has been given a sound-absorbing coating.

Naomi Finlay

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Casual meeting spaces and bench-style desking promote interaction and a ‘work anywhere’ philosophy. The office has adopted a no-paper policy. Most architectural work can now be done on computer screens, so the company eliminated filing cabinets and reduced its library to a single set of shelves.

Naomi Finlay

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Glass walls are used throughout the studio to ensure that every workstation and meeting space receives natural light. Decorative strips on the glass prevent people from accidentally bumping into a glass wall. Vivid reds and blues in wall and floor coverings highlight edges.

Naomi Finlay

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The Frame One benching system from Steelcase was chosen for office furniture.

Naomi Finlay

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A ‘no food at desks’ policy encourages employees to meet informally in the cafeteria area. This not only promotes the sharing of ideas, it also overcomes a tendency in the design industry to work throughout the day, Mr. Shore explains. The space also has a panoramic view of the neighbourhood west of downtown.

Naomi Finlay

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The kitchenette was designed in a galley style to allow many people to use it at once during morning and lunch rush times. Deliberately, the area was not enclosed so it can receive natural light that comes through the cafeteria windows.

Naomi Finlay

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A universal design concept means all facilities in Quadrangle’s studio are accessible to everyone. The kitchen area has been designed with wheel-chair appropriate counters and knee clearances and a sink with flexible faucet hardware.

Naomi Finlay

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A meeting space known as The Incubator is used by teams for planning and review sessions. Its acoustic wall is made of blocks moulded from shredded files. “Three months before we moved, we shredded up all the paper that we’d be ditching because the new office doesn’t have filing cabinets. We mixed it with plaster and formed it into sound-absorbing blocks that resemble the bricks and blocks we use all the time in our designs,” Ms. Robbie explains.

Naomi Finlay

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