Polar Asset Management Partners Office Renovation
Client : Polar Asset Management Partners
Area : 12,000 sf
Program : Reception, Board Room, Workspaces, Lounge, Kitchen, Meeting Rooms, Trading Floor, Art Gallery
Completion : January 2012
This office renovation involves tenant fit-up to the 19th floor of a downtown Toronto high-rise, home to the new corporate headquarters of Polar Asset Management Partners, a successful Bay Street Hedge Fund and Investment firm. The design objectives were to strengthen the firm’s corporate identity, to create the most desirable and functional workspace to attract and retain the industry’s top talent, and to display the client’s large collection of Canadian Modern Art. The design solution addresses these unique requirements by way of distinct program zoning (Meet, Lounge, Work, and Art Gallery areas), which converse with one another through a play of material and surface. Polar’s identity is figuratively incorporated as arctic imagery in the design: a fractured and minimal arctic landscape inspires the physical expression of the office, resulting in a white palette of sliced and folded planes reminiscent of breaking ice. In contrast to the arctic-inspired cool wall and ceiling planes, the gallery space is defined by warmth and texture. Baked white oak clads the building core; weathered, warm and worn, it identifies the gallery and defines public circulation throughout the office. The core and gallery space’s warm material and planarity provides visual engagement and domesticity in sharp contrast to the arctic walls.
Programmatically, attention was focused on optimizing relationships between divisions and key individuals to achieve the most effective trading environment. Four months of space planning took place with the client in advance of the design development to generate options and spatial relationships between the trading floor, middle office, and back office. A blend of private meeting spaces and adjacency to the trading floor is critical to the success of the core business; and bleacher seating in the large conference room accommodates overflow and hosting of the entire office during weekly progress meetings. The workspaces are carefully orientated and scattered to take advantage of both the interior adjacencies, and the external views of the city skyline and Lake Ontario beyond. Transparency of internal rooms helps with visual flow and orientation. Meeting rooms define an extension of the building core and create a filter between the public south and the private north halves of the office where client and staff interactions can take place with views to the exterior and art gallery spaces.