Miller Thompson, a full-service nation-wide Canadian law firm established in Toronto, made a bold move when they elected to relocate from a multi-floor tenancy in a standard office building to a single 5000m2 floor in a converted commercial building previously occupied by retailer Sears.
In addition to positioning all of their lawyers on one floor to promote greater interaction, the move to the new space was strategic. Other tenants in the building include technology firms Microsoft and Sony. In this move Miller Thomson shift to align themselves more with their client base in the tech industry.
The design of the workplace employs a strategy that encourages employees to relinquish offices in a voluntary manner. 50% of the workspace has been fitted out with offices and 50% is open plan, so regardless of role or rank, employees can choose how they prefer to work. The incentive to choose open plan above an office is that the offices are internally located, while the open plan workspace is situated in the prime perimeter areas of the deep floorplate, closer to natural light.
The design is based on the creation of a series of working neighbourhoods. A central street combines all of the communal facilities and links the front-of-house client experience with the heart of the staff facilities. These staff areas are centred on the forum, with its stadium-style seating and loft space work area. All of the communal facilities sit on a raised timber floor that connects to the sunken working are of the neighbourhoods. The central café area provides informal meeting spaces in a range of settings. The variety of places encourages mobility, empowering people to choose to work in any way that they want.
The importance of light, outlook and fresh air to all staff has been capitalised upon in the design of the workplace through the creation of view corridors and the spatial incorporation and access to a unique central outdoor courtyard and an external terrace that overlooks a city square.