“The bar being central creates an even more exciting space to collaborate in,” says Groen. “It’s all about finding those moments of collision.”
The frosted acrylic panels curved around the conference room create an eye shape, and the overall effect makes the area look and feel like you’re inside a boat. “We wanted a real strong sense of dynamism and energy in that space,” Groen says. “The form really does produce that. Basically, it’s the idea of being dynamic and energetic, and showing how you can innovate, do a different type of space and build it out of simple elements.”
In a nod to Kingston’s position as the freshwater capital of North America, as well as the spot where multiple rivers diverge and the Great Lakes end, each panel surrounding the conference room is printed with a nautical chart (readable in both English and French) depicting navigation paths through the city’s waters.
“It’s an abstraction of how you tell a story,” Groen notes. “When you read a nautical drawing, there’s a whole language behind how you read it. It tells us a different story—it’s very much about the lore and myth of the place. We wanted it to tell people about the history and importance of the place. It’s a metaphor of what we do as architects.”
The design team also made it a point to celebrate craftspeople by hiring local millworkers to make and install the panels. “That’s an important message we wanted to give to our clients. Sometimes the craft of what we do is lost. We expect systems now in larger buildings, [but this shows] we can still craft things.”
That sense of craft and dedication is emphasized through a number of more subtle cues, as well. The entry features a tempered glass wall with frosted-film lettering that spells out the services the company provides, courtesy of its in-house graphics team. Two Wegner Shell chairs were also selected for the waiting area so that guests instantly see the firm’s appreciation for fine craftsmanship.
One other unspoken design element speaks volumes about the firm: both the staff and clients get the same amount of dedicated floor space. “Without clients, we don’t have staff, and without staff, we don’t have clients,” says Groen. It took some time to map it all out, but they were certain about one thing: “We wanted to create an amazing space to meet clients in that they want to visit, because they’re inspired.”
client + fit up design
HDR Architecture Inc.
Smith Robinson Building
27 Princess Street, Suite 400
base building design
Shoalts and Zaback
4 Cataraqui Street, Suite 206
base building renovation
Doornekamp Construction Ltd.
588 Scotland Road