Best Offices Ottawa: Designing an elevated space for a growing company

Figurr Architects Collective creates a modern home for Recollective's expanding team
Figurr
Photos by David Boyer
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Figurr Architects CollectiveCheck out the full Best Offices Ottawa publication here 

When Recollective CEO Alfred Jay decided to move his research software company from Gatineau back to the capital, he knew he wanted to be in the heart of the city. But, finding a space that was not only functional for the growing team but also reflective of the company's culture proved to be a challenge. 

"We wanted to anchor down, build out our headquarters and create a home for our company," says Jay. "If we couldn't find a space that met our needs, we were committed to creating one that we could continue to grow into for years to come." 

After viewing several offices in the downtown area, Jay landed on a light-filled space in the World Exchange Plaza, with direct views of the courtyard amphitheatre and ample space for various workstations.  

Figurr

Working closely with Figurr Architects Collective and local contractor The Lake Partnership Inc. (TLPI), Recollective's vision for the office was brought to life, transforming the suite into the modern, elevated space the team was searching for. 

Creating the modern office 

From the project's onset, collaboration was key to ensuring a successful fit-up.

Figurr and TLPI have a similar approach to working that values teamwork and design excellence. 

When Recollective brought TLPI on board to manage the office reconstruction, it was the perfect opportunity for the general contractor and Figurr to team up on their first project.

"It's extremely important for us to work closely with all teams involved in a renovation, especially the client," says Roberto Campos, partner and head of Figurr's Ottawa office. "It gives them ownership over the process and results in an even better design because we get to understand their goals." 

Figurr

For this project, the architecture team set up a Pinterest board to gauge what design elements the client liked – and didn't like. Very quickly, it became clear that Jay and his team were looking for an ultra-clean, modern space, says Campos. 

Figurr incorporated that minimalist aesthetic into every design element, from the unobstructed sight lines throughout the space down to the light fixtures and cabinet handles.

"We wanted to achieve the level of finesse that the client was looking for, regardless of how small the detail was," says Campos.

Upon entering the office, you're met with a crisp, neutral palette and a glass-encased board room, all of which accentuate the large windows that surround the space. Slate gray flooring and bright white walls are contrasted by crisp black frames that outline the boardroom’s glass partitions, making it an immediate focal point. 

Pops of black are incorporated throughout the office, most notably in the kitchen, which features dramatic matte black cabinets and storage units. 

Figurr

The modern yet warm design carries into the open-concept workstations that line the  office's main hall, with white desks and light-wood wall paneling creating a clean and sophisticated feel. 

"Similarly to how we engineer our products, there is a real attention to detail in the design," says Jay. "We wanted the space to reflect that we take our work seriously and the optimized functionality and feel of the office does just that."  

Turning structural challenges into design opportunities

While a modern aesthetic may seem easier to achieve – with fewer elements or colours in play – executing on a minimalist design is often more intensive and leaves little to no room for error, says Christopher Alderson, partner and senior project manager at TLPI.

"With this project, we were always looking at how to marry design intent and feasibility," says Alderson, who oversaw the construction and management for the renovation. "Figurr was great at working with us to ensure that, when it was all finished, you didn't see the challenges that went into making something complicated work."

Figurr

In this case, the L-shaped floor plate and proximity to the outdoor amphitheatre space posed some challenges during construction. Some of the walls in the office feature a slight curvature, which meant the team needed to adjust the architectural approach to ensure the lines were, in fact, straight. 

Several structural pillars throughout the space also posed challenges to the layout. The design team removed the drywall cladding from the intrusive columns to leave their rough concrete exposed, integrating them as design elements in the space.   

The modernity of the office is also reflected in the fine details, from the alignment of outlets and sprinkler heads, to the soundproofing tiles on the ceiling. 

"It's the little things that really matter, and if you do them right, you won't even notice them," says Alderson. "It was nice to watch Figurr come up with different plans to incorporate these necessary elements into the overall design."

Figurr

For Jay and the Recollective team, who are now making their return to the new office, having a space that so clearly reflects who they are as a company is paramount to their future success. And, working with a strong team able to capture the vision for the space made the process that much easier. 

"Collaborating with Figurr and TLPI was phenomenal," adds Jay. "They were very keen to listen to my ideas and objectives, and that gave me a lot of confidence that, ultimately, we'd have something that we could be really excited about and really proud of."