401 Wellington St.Edit profile
401 Wellington St. This rehabilitation and conversion project brings the 170 employees of various disciplines who make up the design firm's Toronto operation into one 4,925 sq.m integrated work environment - making a strong statement about the company's commitment to sustainable design. With an appreciation for the intrinsic relationship between city building and sustainability, careful site selection for the project was critical. Supporting the intensification of Toronto's downtown core, the selected site is located in the city's historic Garment District at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Wellington Street West. Formerly the home of the McGregor Sock Factory and listed as a heritage property by the City of Toronto, the beautiful brick and beam building built in 1905 offered the opportunity of reclaiming a defunct manufacturing facility and adapting it for a new use. Triple bottom line accounting practices informed all decisions for the project. An example of this was the site selection process. It was understood that this decision was the single largest factor that determined the overall carbon footprint of the Toronto operation and the quality of life for staff members. The location needed to balance rental rates, with proximity to public transportation, and average commute times for staff, as well as urban intensification potential. While there was substantial pressure to move to a more suburban site due to lower rental rates, the final site chosen was an urban adaptive reuse building, within walking distance of public transportation, both local and regional, with minimal parking but excellent amenities close by. To reduce the overall carbon footprint, a rigorous environmental level of LEED-CI Gold certification was set for the new office space. Along with green building techniques, the design strategies also targeted the carbon footprint of commuting staff. Partnered with Zipcar, a car share company, dedicated access to two hybrid, fuel efficient cars on site is provided. This allows staff members to access cars when required - substantially reducing the need to drive to work on a daily basis. Indoor bicycle storage, shower and change facilities encourage cycling to work. Finally, a transit subsidy program encourages staff to use public transportation. To transform this industrial building into contemporary and green office space, an incision was made through the space to create a two-storey volume which connects the two levels via a public zone that features a shared reception area, meeting rooms, design library and cafe spaces. An internal stair connects the space and encourages casual interaction and collaboration among multidisciplinary professionals. A combined passive solar and daylight strategy was incorporated into the design to maximize occupant comfort while reducing energy consumption. The first principle in the design strategy was to make the windowed perimeter a 'public' zone. No desk or offices occupy this zone, therefore, allowing maximum daylight penetration to occur. Specifically, the studio workstation spines are oriented perpendicular to the exterior wall, and all enclosed offices for senior management are located at the core, thereby allowing for maximum daylight penetration. In addition, about 90% of the seated workstation spaces have direct sightlines to perimeter glazing. Other key features of the environmentaldesign include: • A raised floor system with under floor air distribution controlled by seven rooftop units, which can be controlled by zone and by occupants through individual diffuser controls - maximizing efficiency and occupant comfort, • Under floor electrical distribution allows for ease of access for ever-changing technology and re-configuration due to expansion, energy efficient LED task lighting, automated solar shades along the west facade, along with occupancy and daylight sensors throughout the space provide increased lighting efficiency, • Water efficiency is achieved through the use of low flow urinals, faucets and shower heads, solar powered faucets and dual flush toilets, and interior decorative screens, reclaimed slate and • Reclaimed wood has been used for wood for furniture within the design library, and bamboo hardwood flooring in high traffic public zones. The retrofit aims to 'give back' to the city; economically, environmentally and culturally. Informed by this objective, the original retail entrance to McGregor Socks on Spadina Avenue is reconceived as a public contemporary art gallery. The window gallery has been returned to the public realm, in support of public art in the city. In addition, the project is used as a sustainable design showcase for clients, colleagues and consultants, and guided tours through the space continue to be offered on a weekly basis.