Inside the Modern Workspace of KPMB Architects

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In our vertical series, cb Offering exciting, smart-designed and one-of-a-kind spaces across Canada. From innovative home offices to out-of-the-box co-working spaces to unconventional setups-Like This Beauty Company Moved Out of a Rural Farmhouse and this carbon-bike company Located in a former auto body shop—we want to showcase the most unique and beautiful locations from across industries. This month we’re outlining the Toronto office of KPMB Architects,

KPMB Architects had been operating from the same 19th-century industrial brick warehouse in Toronto’s Entertainment District since 1987, spanning approximately 1,579 square meters over two floors. The firm has worked on high-profile projects across the continent, including restoration and the expansion of Massey Hall in Toronto, and Boston University’s Center for Computing and Data Science. But in 2018, the firm received information that their office building was being redeveloped; They had less than a year to find a new place, renovate it, and live in it. Paulo Rocha and Kevin Bridgman, two partners at KPMB Architects, were tasked with finding and co-designing a space where their 110 employees, including marketing and business development teams, could work together, collaborate and can brainstorm.

After securing the lease on the entire 12th floor of Toronto’s Globe and Mail Centre, spanning 2,322 square metres, Rocha and Bridgman created a design that echoed the firm’s own ethos for office interiors. Instead of executive offices occupying prime spaces with exterior glass walls, KPMB opts for a more equitable layout that places all employees next to each other in rows of open desks. “Nothing is more hierarchical than private offices that are all windows,” Bridgman explains. “If the officials decide to keep their blinds closed then everyone else gets very little light.”

White oak hardwood was used for the floors and walls of the office’s central meeting and gathering spaces, echoing the heritage feel of his previous office. “The warmth of the wooden beams and ceilings of our original workplace inspired us to introduce the same warmth into our new space,” says Rocha.

The firm also benefited from a substantial upgrade from its previous office. They went from three meeting rooms to 12, including a boardroom with retractable glass walls that can accommodate large team-wide gatherings and events such as town halls. The old office didn’t have enough space for a lunch room, but the new space has become a natural gathering point for employees to meet over coffee and a meal. KPMB’s luncheon lounge features black leather and blue lounge chairs from HAY’s About A Lounge Chair series, a 14-foot island clad in SapienStone porcelain, and an oak wood communal table from Andreu World.

The firm has since grown to 155 people with a hybrid work model, where employees work in person three days a week. Here’s a look inside.

When employees and visitors step off the elevator, they are greeted by a reception area with clear views of the city on either side of the building. The walkways that begin at the reception also serve as a central “way” for walking from one end of the office to the other.
A picture of rows of desks next to windows in KPMB's office
Instead of pushing executive offices against glass walls, Rocha and Bridgman keep the space open to foot traffic, making it easy for employees to move around. “Maintaining an open perimeter around the office has allowed us to ensure sweeping views of the surrounding city and Lake Ontario,” says Bridgman.
A picture of the wooden lunch area at KPMB's office
There was no space for lunch room in the old office of KPMB. But here, employees can host lunch talks to share the projects they’re working on. It is also the venue for major events such as the FIFA World Cup. Shelves display architectural magazines and books for employees to browse during their lunch breaks.
A photo of a dark private living room with a wooden table inside
Most of the office’s 12 meeting rooms are equipped with screens for video calls to collaborate with colleagues working from home and with clients from across Canada and the United States.
photo of three employees leaning over a desk together
Wooden tables throughout the office serve as gathering points for team members to meet and collaborate. Tables are also a great place for employees to spread their materials—especially if they need a change of scenery. “I’m here constantly sketching and drawing in light,” says Rocha. “It is important for designers and architects to stay connected to their local context. Our vantage point of the city provides exceptional views of many of KPMB’s past and present projects.
Photo of a man working on his computer in the office
With more square footage to work with, Bridgman & Rocha designed these center tables between 37 rows of desks. “We group teams back-to-back, not face-to-face, so they can talk to each other and share maps and sketches,” Bridgman says.
A photo of people working at a communal table in the center of an office
According to Rocha, the model shop was always a “temporary space” in KPMB’s old office. But the new office has a dedicated space for building small 3D model representations of architectural projects using wood, foam and plastic. The firm’s “material library”, with countless specimens of stone, wood, glass and paint, is located nearby.
Photo of a board room enclosed in glass with white chairs
This boardroom seats 24 people, but the glass walls are movable, opening up space to accommodate the entire team for company talks and town halls.

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