The client is an Alberta based Credit Union which serves more than 120,000 members across 41 branches in central and southern regions of the province. At the onset of 2018, the group completed a radical effort to rethink their workplace standards and sought to bring their Calgary based teams under one roof. An equally radical rethinking of interior strategies was required in order to encourage integration and interaction between these newly combined user groups, while also accommodating their diverse needs. Employees had fallen into separated silos of work functions, and through detailed employee and management engagement sessions it was determined that the quilting of teams was essential for both a cultural and productivity boost. The challenge was to create an experience that broke the restrained structure of commonplace banking institutions while still in aligning with the client’s values. Located on two floors of a mid-rise building in the City’s north east, the design team sought to transform an immense 75,000 sq. ft floor plate into an ecosystem for interaction with a 6 month timeline from conception to closeout.
To accomplish the goal of interaction and collaboration, the design concept embraces the idea of positive friction. Spaces of collaboration, contemplation and concentration are weaved throughout the floor plan, intended to promote chance encounters and spontaneous interactions between employees. Custom designed architectural structures, dubbed “greenhouses” were strategically placed within the floor plan as a strategy for accomplishing this goal. This arrangement accomplishes several goals, housing common areas for collaboration while providing critical acoustic separation between open office zones. Areas for focused work are maintained while creating a dramatic open floor plan that layers greenery, natural light, and an authentic material palette to promote employee wellness. The dynamic patterning in Shaw Contract Group’s Off the Grid Collection reinforces the intent of organic gestures and movement throughout the space, using the simplification and undulation of patterning to define zones. The “Spindle” LVT line was used within the greenhouse structures to provide contrast and warmth to the space. A dedicated community hub space is strategically arranged next to the main reception and perpendicular to the path of travel for users from one side of the floor to the other, encouraging informal meetings and casual discussion alike. Above, trailing greenery is weaved through an architectural mesh grid creating a green canopy of acoustic control while offering psychological and physiological wellness benefits to its users. Custom designed millwork becomes a playground for working styles ranging from concealed niches to counter surfaces that yearn to be leaned on. All these elements are orchestrated by the interior design team to provide Connect First an environment that expands on their core culture to provide a landscape of both focus and fun, with an underlying heartbeat of collaboration and wellness.