When Steelcase examined its real estate strategy in Canada, it knew it needed to make a change to better serve its employees and customers, and to communicate its brand more effectively. The company turned to superkül to design the new Toronto WorkLife showroom as the brand’s Canadian hub. By relocating its headquarters from suburban Markham to the 24th floor of an office building in Toronto’s financial district, Steelcase has further engaged its employees while bringing itself in close proximity to its primary customers and dealers in the downtown core.
The design capitalizes on the unusual height and dimensions of the space to create a dramatic new presence in Toronto for this global furniture manufacturer. The 10,000-square-foot space is long and narrow with soaring ceilings; extensive southwest-facing glazing provides an abundance of natural light and broad skyline views. Steelcase is the first tenant of this extraordinary space, which has been vacant since the building opened 30 years ago.
WorkLife is designed as an open office rather than a traditional showroom; Steelcase’s Toronto sales team members operate from the very same workstations shown to clients as demonstration models—in an immersive environment that encourages interaction and fosters creativity.
The design revolves around three architectural elements or “pods”—an innovative gesture that achieves three primary design objectives: it mediates the scale of the long and tall space, it creates a different kind of workplace reflective of the Steelcase brand, and it capitalizes on expansive views of the city. The three pods articulate specific program elements: a classroom, an open teleconferencing area, and a lounge area.
Predominantly expressed in high-gloss white MDF, the pods are complemented by a sleek material palette that provides an appropriately neutral backdrop for the Steelcase product. With their exaggerated geometries, forced perspectives and sloping ground planes, the pods create a dynamic and transformative architectural experience that shifts the perception of the space, engaging visitors with both architecture and program along with the city skyline—in a way that differs from the typical office tower experience.
The project achieved LEED-CI Gold certification.
Location: Toronto, ON
Size: 3,230 sf
photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame