Location488 Wellington, Toronto, Canada
Project TeamBrock James (Partner-in-Charge), Kris Payne (Project Architect), Cynthia Dovell (Architect)
From the architect. Up Inc. commissioned Levitt Goodman Architects to design the third floor of this historic industrial building to purposely suit it needs. Up Inc. is a Toronto-based branding, graphic design and communications firm with a reputation for clear and influential design. The firm had worked with Levitt Goodman Architects over many years, undergoing partial renovations to accommodate its growing business. The firm desired an environment that would improve operations and convey a distinctive character, reflective of its clean aesthetic, its proactive service and its knack for influential and economical design.
The new office is defined by a giant screen of staggered, stainless steel panels that rises from the floor and snakes over the ceiling of the studio with a polished precision that starkly contrasts with the rough masonry and concrete of the host building. Each panel is a folded piece of stainless steel like a folder or a sheet of paper — the basis of the firm’s work. The screen is a simple device that orchestrates the entire space, adds an organic quality to the otherwise rectangular and rhythmic interior and creates a work environment where the studio has center stage.
This sculptural screen displays Up Inc.’s work and creates a partition between the client reception and the studio, while still emitting light and offering glimpses into the hum of the busy office. The rear faces of the panels are lined with white felt that soften acoustics in the largely concrete interior and brighten light over the studio proper.
Linear worktables run the length of the open studio. These are outfitted with custom-designed, modular partitions that can be easily rearranged to enlarge or decrease each individual’s desk area as staffing expands and contracts. Selected walls, ducts and partitions are rendered in a deep blue, adding another element of surprise and visual consistency.
For Up Inc. the new interior projects a clear idea about its own brand: professional, comfortable, economical, flexible and visually compelling. “Moving to this space marked an instant change in our office culture,” says Principal Carey George. “Our staff was immediately more sociable. We are prouder of where we work because the space reflects the quality of what we do.” He added, “The space gives our clients the security that they are working with a sophisticated design and branding firm. It is equally comfortable for formal and casual meetings and its openness allows everyone to see and feel the creativity, strategy and teamwork that is going on throughout the office.”