Charles River Associates

Toronto, Ontario

Headquartered in a building overlooking Nathan Phillips Square and adjacent to the Hudson’s Bay downtown flagship store, the new Toronto office for Charles River Associates (CRA) capitalizes on the abundant natural light and sweeping city views afforded by its extensive northwest glazing to create a distinct identity for the multinational consulting firm. These elements provide a unifying theme in the creation of a bright, dynamic and flexible workspace linked through various common areas.

Entry to the sixth-floor office is marked by the welcoming ambience of the open kitchen/lounge space adjacent. This is conceived of as the social hub of the office, where colleagues and clients can meet, exchange and collaborate over a coffee, choosing from a multitude of seating options: bench, chair or barstool. A feature wall of grey industrial felt pleating adds a textural and organic counterpoint to the handsomely detailed white oak millwork, while upholstery finishes are tastefully rendered in neutral shades and tertiary colours.

As the CRA headquarters occupies a prime corner location in the building, floor-to-ceiling glazing enables all perimeter offices, workstations and the lounge to be suffused with daylight, simultaneously providing a dramatic view of Old City Hall located directly across the street. The historic structure’s ornate architectural detailing serves as a captivating backdrop, and its muted tones and rich patina inspired the material palette for the interior finishes throughout the office.

The spatial organization of the office manifests as a series of neighbourhoods comprising clusters of modular workstations, private offices and meeting rooms. Employees are treated to natural light and layered views throughout, with carefully placed solid partitions to maintain fluidity of circulation while avoiding dead-end corridors. In providing a complete top-to-bottom design package, all furniture was specified by the architect team, with a variety of ergonomic choices such as sit/stand desks that promote optimal health and performance. To encourage collaboration, individual walls were conceived as large-scale writing surfaces for note-taking, brainstorming and presentations.

In order to adapt to the changing needs of the company, private offices are designed for flexibility and to accommodate a greater number of employees should firm staffing requirements increase.   

photo: Shai Gil