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05/01/2012

The City Within

Charged with bringing multiple divisions of Attraction Media under one roof, the design team at Sid Lee Architecture creates a vibrant, flexible new office that allows the diverse identities of its client to shine through.

By Robert Nieminen

 
  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_1.jpg

    Located in an old industrial neighborhood and built into a ‘60s-era, loft-like floor plan, the new offices of Attraction Media benefit from the amount of natural light that floods the space through a series of expansive windows. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_2.jpg

    Located in an old industrial neighborhood and built into a ‘60s-era, loft-like floor plan, the new offices of Attraction Media benefit from the amount of natural light that floods the space through a series of expansive windows. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_3.jpg

    The design team at Sid Lee developed a clever metaphor of a city for Attraction Media, which saw the 37,000-square-foot office transform into a small-scale metropolis, complete with plazas, streets and perspectives. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_4.jpg

    Common areas like this break room lend themselves to the sense of community that is shared among employees of the client’s six brands. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_5.jpg

    Mobile storage, expansive worksurfaces and low-height panels make for a flexible, collaborative environment. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_6.jpg

    The design team looked to maximize its use of real estate by creating versatile spaces such as this break area, which can also do double duty as an informal meeting space. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_7.jpg

    The client’s six separate divisions were divided into unique “neighborhoods” that are clearly identified by bold splashes of color within the contemporary space. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_8.jpg

    With conference rooms and private offices located in the core of the floor plan, the open spaces are where people maintain their connection to the outside. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_9.jpg

    The goal for the design was to create an original approach to each division, so new colors were introduced that represent the design team’s interpretation of the activities happening within each space. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0512/Article_Images/I_0512_Web_PE_AttrctMedia_10.jpg

    View larger

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Famed American architect Daniel Libeskind once said that “Cities are the greatest creations of humanity.” And in a way, he’s right—every city in the world represents more than a mere collection of streets, buildings, parks and people; they form a collective identity uniquely shaped by their inhabitants and the histories unfolded within their neighborhoods.

In essence, cities are man’s attempt to create unity in diversity—a concept not lost on the design team of Montreal-based Sid Lee Architecture as they worked to create a new headquarters for their client, Attraction Media.

As a media conglomerate consisting of six separate divisions, each with distinct missions and personalities, the goal of the project consisted of creating an office space that would house the various companies under one roof without dissipating their respective identities.

“Our approach is twofold,” explains Jean Pelland, architect at Sid Lee. “Because we have this instinctive link to a marketing company, part of our focus and initial intent was to shift from the usual practice of architects and look more for what we call the ‘architecture of identity.’” Pelland says that the firm’s research is focused on uncovering the identities for either the client or project (or both), and how these can be built out of a better understanding of the relationship between the client or end-user. “Therefore, it becomes very much a user-centric architecture, because our focus will be angled toward the users of the space,” he says.

As a result of the information gleaned during the programming phase with the client, the design team at Sid Lee developed a clever metaphor of a city, which saw the 37,000-square-foot office transform into a small-scale metropolis, complete with plazas, streets and perspectives. Inspired by the urban landscape of its Montreal home, the space boasts unobstructed views of the cityscape, the Olympic Stadium and the Jacques Cartier Bridge. This city concept brought together the client’s separate divisions—Jet Films, Bubbles Television, Cirrus Communications, Delphis Films, La Cavalerie and Attraction Media—into unique, clearly identifiable “neighborhoods.”

Given the complexity of the various divisions existing underneath the Attraction Media umbrella, and the fact that not all of them can coexist easily, “we tried to work in a certain metaphor or a parallel to the city, so that the concept could reflect something that actually exists in the city, where you have quarters that are sometimes based on the nature of the people living there, based on backgrounds,” Pelland explains.

“For instance, in Montreal, we have a Fur Quarter, where there used to be tanning industries and fabricators of fur coats, so there’s this real distinction between some neighborhoods. We used that as a basis of our concept to scale it down and work on these diversities, but also try to find a common area for the whole project.”

Among the most striking features of the project is the introduction of a spectrum of vivid colors that delineates each of the company’s various divisions as you move through the space. Although one would assume that the colors correspond to the various brands’ existing identities, Pelland notes that the goal for the design was to create an original approach to each division, so new colors were introduced that represent the design team’s interpretation of the activities happening within them.

For instance, a bright yellow area denotes the Bubbles Television division, which is a French-language TV company that produces new game shows and is spearheaded by “a very forward-thinking, vibrant person,” Pelland explains. “So we used, through the means of these colors—the brightest of all colors—to kind of create that signature.”

In the common area (or plaza), the colors of each company are also carried through a series of boxes and within graphic design elements to further illustrate that the various brands all coexist under one roof, Pelland adds.

Another defining feature of the project, which is located in an old industrial neighborhood and built into a ‘60s-era, loft-like floor plan, is the amount of natural light that floods the space through a series of expansive windows. With conference rooms and private offices located in the core of the building, all of the open areas housing workstations and collaborative areas benefit from daylighting and stunning views of the city.

“There’s this outward-looking concept that we were trying to work with, so the positioning of all of our spaces, actually, lend to researching the best angles or the best view framing the outside from within, just to make sure you could feel once you walk into the space that there’s this connection to the city,” he says. “And that once you’ve stepped out of the elevator, there’s this reverse effect where, while stepping into the office, you can actually feel the outside again. So all of the open spaces where people mainly live and do their daily work, they’re all designed that they do have this connection to the outside.”

Given that companies across the board are looking to maximize the use of space—with the average area allotted per worker in the U.S. now projected at only 100 square feet—flexibility was also a key consideration in the design process.

“It’s absolutely necessary that there is a thought of flexibility,” Pelland says. “Having very large amounts of space is no longer something that people are looking for, the companies that we work with. They are trying to maximize the usage of space.”

This was especially true for Attraction Media and its subsidiaries, which by their very nature employ a large number of freelancers that can vary from 40 to 60 to 80 people, depending on the project. “There’s inevitable need for space, so it’s almost like a lung that inflates and deflates all the time,” Pelland notes. “You have to think of how you use a table where someone can actually have a neighbor for a certain amount of time and then when that person is gone, they regain their space. So it really has to be flexible enough to adapt to these situations.”

In the end, Sid Lee created a dynamic, yet functional new office that allows the diverse personalities found within Attraction Media’s subsidiary companies to shine through. “We really focused on vitality—allowing people to live within the space and bring their own essence to it,” says Pelland. The client agrees, saying there has been sufficient thought put into the project, allowing people to collaborate and enjoy each other’s company.

“There’s really a sense of creating a small community within the company,” Pelland adds. “And that, to me. is what is the most successful aspect of this project.”

 

 

SOURCES:
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av/multimedia
Techni-logique
(877) 491-1717


acoustical ceiling (custom)
Construction Michel Gagnon Ltée
(418) 687-3824 

Royal Building Products
(800) 488-5245


doors (custom)
Construction Michel Gagnon Ltée | 1
(418) 687-3824 


door hardware
Alain Lemieux | 1
(450) 433-3223


glass
Vitrerie JL/Prelco
(450) 434-1502

 

window treatments
Alimex | 2


flooring
Couper Croiser
(514) 523-4830

Les Peintres Multicouleurs
(514) 955-0458


lighting
Luxtec | 3
(800) 463-5030


millwork
Ébénisterie Beaubois
Ltée
| 4
(800) 463-2237


sink/mirror/toilets
Eric Filteau*

seating
Botempi

CIME Business Environments*
(418) 476-1145

Domison

Haworth
(800) 344-2600

Pedrali
(+ 39) 035-83588


tables
CIME Business Environments*
(418) 476-1145

Ébénisterie Beaubois Ltée*

Estel


textiles
Domison

 

Maharam
(800) 645-3943


wallcoverings
Imafix
(877) 961-3339

Les Peintres Multicouleurs
(514) 955-0458


walls
Construction Michel Gagnon Ltée
(418) 687-3824 


workstations*
CIME Business Environments*
(418) 476-1145

Haworth*
(800) 344-2600

* Indicates products designed by Sid Lee Architecture and custom- fabricated by manufacturer.

CONTACT:
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client
Attraction Media
5455 de Gaspe Avenue
Suite 805
Montreal, Quebec
H2T 3B3 Canada
(514) 846-1222 www.attractionmedia.ca

 

project team
Architect
Sid Lee Architecture
75 Queen Street
Office 1400
Montreal, Quebec
H3C 2N6 Canada
(514) 282-6834
www.sidleearchitecture.com

engineering
Leroux Beaudoin Hurens et Associés Inc.
www.lbha.ca

electrical
Pyramides Electriques
www.pyramides.ca

ventilation
Ventilex Inc.
www.ventilex.ca

 

 

 

 
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