BDO National Office

Our firm’s design for BDO’s national office in downtown Toronto makes a splash with a sweeping biophilic, open-plan approach that could not be further from a traditional accounting office. This radical, employee-focussed concept is now being deployed at the firm’s regional offices across Canada. It embodies the BDO personality defined by integrity, flexibility, openness and initiative.

Over 42,000 sq. ft. and three floors in a LEED Gold-certified skyscraper, our integrated design team developed an agile workplace strategy advancing BDO’s vision for innovation through collaboration. Inclusive and equitable, it conveys the importance of teamwork and relationships to BDO and offers all generations access to a variety of adaptable spaces for focus work, teamwork and informal get-togethers, with wireless interactive tools deployed throughout for maximum mobility. A Training Centre of Excellence hosts employees from across Canada and eliminates the need for off-site space rentals.

Folding walls and modular furniture allow rooms to be combined for town halls, training sessions and social activities. The design also advances and showcases BDO’s environmental stewardship and goal to be an employer of choice, with LEED and WELL principles guiding the choice of sustainable materials and biophilic approach central to the human experience.

Before our project, there were rows of potted plants sitting atop shoulder-height partitions between workstations. While this further justified our intent to integrate a greenery concept, it did not jibe with the new strategy for non-assigned seating and the abolition of partitions to promote collaboration. This led us to design lightweight wireframe trellises suspended over the collaboration islands, whose plants can be switched out according to season. Seeking a zero-maintenance planting solution, we came up with a unique, living moss-covered central staircase accent wall that connects two floors, fosters chance encounters and encourages an active lifestyle. Combined with natural ventilation, the large vegetated areas purify the air and are linked to decreased stress, enhanced creativity and accelerated disease recovery, highlighting BDO’s commitment to employee wellness.

The biophilic strategy goes beyond just plants with a glazed core of closed rooms surrounded by open-plan areas, giving all staff and meeting spaces access to daylight and views. We also incorporated natural landscape features to reconnect people with nature and highlight BDO’s Canadian identity: jewel-toned fabrics, stone, wood, glass and exposed raw concrete – this last element transforming and leveraging what could have been a constraining number of load-bearing columns and walls in opposition to the open-plan concept. Outdoor and indoor terraces overlook Berczy Park and accommodate meetings, personal space, eating areas and events, further promoting employee well-being.

Acoustic privacy and open-office etiquette being concerns, we balanced hard and soft surfaces, strategically placing acoustic clouds and other materials to absorb or deflect sound, and deploying white noise throughout, with phone booths and quiet rooms in all four corners.

This office prototype has raised the national bar for accounting office design, employing innovation and sustainability to embody the values of the client. Space optimization has generated 16% real-estate savings and a projected $2 million in rent savings over 10 years.

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Status: Built
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Additional Credits: photo credit: Claude-Simon Langlois