Broadcasting and entertainment companies often inject high-energy design into their headquarters to convey a certain corporate identity, but they may find it daunting to achieve this as they become more environmentally aware. Corus Entertainment, one of Canada’s top cable television and radio producers, decided to face such a challenge head-on for its new home, Corus Quay, with the help of Quadrangle Architects Limited.
On Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront, just east of the downtown core, a former industrial site is transforming into a mixed-use neighborhood, attracting creative businesses and fostering economic growth. Corus became one of the area’s first major tenants as it leased an eight-story speculative office building, designed by local firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects, to consolidate 1,100 employees from 11 locations. The media company engaged Quadrangle, also from Toronto, to customize the 479,000-square-foot structure’s interiors, and deliver a sustainable and collaborative workplace.
“Broadcast headquarters are often known as ‘black environments’ instead of green ones because of the amount of power required to run them 24/7,” explains Julie Edwards, Corus’s vice president of facilities and administration. The design team identified several opportunities, such as streamlining technology, to offset those needs while creating a state-of-the-art broadcast facility.
“Corus pursued LEED® certification as a way of validating their efforts, but sustainability has long been a part of their corporate culture,” says Michelle Xuereb, sustainability strategist with Quadrangle Architects.
The team decided to go for the Gold, times three. Quadrangle’s design targets LEED Canada-CI (Commercial Interiors), Diamond and Schmitt’s base building aims for LEED Canada-CS (Core & Shell), and the site—Waterfront Toronto—has achieved Stage One LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) Gold for the governments of Canada, Ontario, and the City of Toronto under the USGBC Pilot Program.
Building the Corus community
Corus Quay consolidated employees in the diverse fields of print, animation, broadcast, and new media. Though they opted for the egalitarian open-layout concept with low desk partitions, “Corus was concerned about bringing these different brands together, and they wanted to make sure that the individual brands were not lost in the umbrella of the new building,” explains Quadrangle Principal Brian Curtner. To that end, Quadrangle designed more than 150 gathering spaces that vary in size and vibe, encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas and allowing employees to literally “work anywhere.”
Staff can retreat to make sensitive calls in private phone booths with modular walls that combine wallpaper, FSC-certified wood veneer, and recycled jeans for acoustic batting. They can tote their laptops to one of many comfortable lounges and outdoor terraces. For those who need to completely disconnect from their busy schedules, a recreational space offering soothing views of the lake and foosball sits atop the studio cube in the atrium, which is lined with reclaimed hemlock sourced from the harbor. A three-story, adult-sized slide, constructed of PVC and supported by steel, allows for a quick escape. A glass “collaboration stair” weaving through the atrium provides a walkway for those who prefer a more traditional egress.
Among its stock of meeting spaces, Corus is most proud of its 21 branded boardrooms. Quadrangle worked with local artists to
create custom wallpaper, graphics, light fixtures, and furnishings that embody the personalities of these diverse brands. The boardroom for Talk Sports Radio Station, for instance, features a hockey-rink table and hockey-stick lighting, and graffiti-emblazoned glass walls create an edgy backdrop for a rock music station. Playful design aside, the rooms are outfitted responsibly, too: conference tables are constructed of recycled wood or glass, or FSC-certified wood; one of the room’s light fixtures features recycled bulbs collected by the project team; and modular walls incorporate recycled content such as jeans.
LEED achieved through technology
In order to support varied workspaces while also meeting Corus’s sustainability goals, the design team coordinated with consultants to create efficient data storage and lighting systems. In lieu of computer towers at each workstation and a multitude of servers to accommodate them, a central storage hub holds an amount of data equivalent to that of the U.S. Library of Congress. This led to a 90 percent reduction in server-related cooling and power costs. Employees can literally see the difference: a screen in the control space allows passersby to monitor real-time information on energy use.
Canada’s Fifthlight Technology implemented an innovative lighting control system that can be swiftly reconfigured for meetings, or when employees or even entire departments must move. Each studio’s LED track system, as well as some of the building’s fluorescent and halogen fixtures, has its own IP address for remote controlling via internet or telephone. Occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting also help to lower lighting loads; the company has already experienced a savings of 40 percent in this sector.
An unexpected benefit of moving into Corus Quay has been high employee retention. Corus discovered that most employees live within proximity of public transit and can get to the building without driving a car. Considering its convenience, combined with the relaxed vibe of the interiors and amazing views, it comes as no surprise that employees really enjoy working in their new environment. They aren’t the only ones. “At the end of the public tours people often ask ‘can I work here?’” says Edwards. “We have to remind them that we do actually work.”
Interior designer: Quadrangle Architects Limited. Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects. Interior design project team: Brian Curtner, partner-in-charge; Ted Shore, design principal (planning and schematic design); Rob Dyson, project architect, interior design associate; Caroline Robbie, project designer; Panyada Wangpongpipat; Frances Hahn; Vera Gisarov; Michelle Xuereb; Rick Mugford; Julie Mroczkowski; Viviane Chan; Andrea Barei; Kateryna Nebesna; Nicole Orsino; Andrea Shearer; Ana Francisca De La Mora; Young Kun Yoon; Jennifer Lembke; Kevin Chan; Jennifer Heimpel. Contractor: Aecon. Consultants: William Anderson Design; The Design Agency. Lighting consultant: Fifthlight Techology. Engineering: Crossey Engineering Ltd. Landscape: Terraplan Landscape Architects. Acoustician: Aercoustics Engineering Limited. Furniture suppliers and retailers: Drechsel; Herman Miller Workplace Solutions; Kiosk; Klaus by Nienkämper; Knoll; POI; SCI. LEED consultant: Halsall
Engineering. Fabricator: Eventscape. A/V: Applied Electronics Ltd.
Wallcoverings: Convenience Group; Crown; Knoll. Paint: Benjamin Moore. Flooring: Castlewall Marble and Tile; Forbo Industries; Stonetile. Carpet: InterfaceFLOR; Trends & Trades. Lighting: 20 Modern; Castor; Industrial Storm Living Lighting; Klaus; Luxo; MADE; Ministry of the Interior; Quasi Modo; Sistemlux; Unit 5. Doors: Teknion. Glass: Adanac Glass. Window treatments: Sun Project. Workstations: 3Form; Humanscale; Teknion. Seating: Steelcase (workstation); Coalesse (lounge); Kiosk; Klaus; Knoll; Plan B. Cafeteria, dining, and auditorium seating: Coalesse; Kiosk; Klaus. Other seating: Eventscape; Herman Miller Workplace Resource; ItalContract. Upholstery: Donghia; Designtex; Maharam; Telio & Cie. Conference table: Gord Peteran; Streamliner Design Fabrication; The Surface Group. Cafeteria, dining, and training tables: Kisok; Klaus; Steelcase. Other tables: Adanac Glass; Avenue Road; CGI Custom Furnishings; Commute Home; Design Within Reach; ItalContract; Ministry of the Interior; Nienkämper. File cabinets: Teknion. Architectural woodworking: JWS Millwork. Planters: Terraplan. Signage: The Brothers Markle.