Elevating Culture and Connecting People Through
Sustainable Workplace Design
Canada's leading general contractor ,
PCL Construction is known for building things right the first time, so when it
came time to create a new home base for its Greater Toronto area operations, they
were already armed with a strong team and a clear vision.
“We recognized the need to elevate our Toronto workplace to
sustain our operations well into the future,” says Todd Craigen, senior vice
president and district manager, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. (Toronto). “Our
new space is an important investment in our employees and our partners, and
sets the stage for PCL to recruit and retain the best people in the industry.”
Building a Culture of Collaboration
the past 25 years, PCL Toronto’s departmental teams were siloed and segmented across
several floors. To bring the entire team together, PCL needed a design
partner who understood its organizational goals and how to translate them into
effective design. B+H Architects have a long history of collaboration with PCL,
so the partnership was a natural, familiar fit.
is the most important factor in determining a company’s success, so it was
critical we understood not only the physical challenges the PCL team were
experiencing with their old space, but also how they aspired to work in the
space and what their organizational goals were,” said Peter Heys, principal,
Interior Design, B+H Architects.
inform the workplace strategy, B+H conducted extensive research and
visioning exercises with PCL’s leadership team and its next generation of
leaders to uncover the current challenges each group was experiencing and their
aspirations for the new design.
The focus groups revealed key driving goals for the new space, including the need to
connect the entire PCL team, facilitate teamwork and collaboration, leverage
technology to promote productivity and knowledge transfer, promote health and
wellbeing, and create an appropriate balance between open and private areas.
creation of social spaces such as the Work Café provide informal spaces for
meetings or gatherings, and “collision zones” were strategically placed
throughout the office to encourage spontaneous interaction and maximize
opportunities for collaboration.
design decision was grounded by the question, ‘How will this empower our employee to work at his or her best?’ This
rigour brought the best solution out of every challenge,” says Craigen. “When
employees feel plugged in and connected to their colleagues and the rest of the
organization, there are boundless opportunities for collaboration, innovation,
Rules to Live
to PCL’s company culture is the story of its founder, Ernest Poole. Before the
business later evolved into its current-day employee-ownership model, Ernest outlined
what came to be known as Poole’s Rules, a set of business principles defining PCL’s
Rules remind us of the core principles that guided our founder over a century ago.
Adherence to these principles has made PCL what it is today, and 112 years
later, they are still very much a part of our culture,” shares Craigen.
the past while embracing the workplace of the future, PCL commissioned a
graphic artist to etch Poole’s Rules in Ernest’s handwriting on glass panels.
This artwork, which is prominently displayed in the main lobby at PCL Toronto,
gracefully interweaves the company’s past with its current narrative.
legacy was further integrated into the architecture of the workspace through its
use of materials and finishes. Natural and raw materials like wood, brick,
concrete, steel, glass, and stone are used throughout public spaces to connect
with PCL’s identity as a construction company.
PCL Toronto required that the fitout of its new workplace, spanning
two floors of a certified LEED Silver building, be built to the most
sustainable standards. Knowing that it would take a steep learning curve to
implement the new requirements to obtain LEED v4 ID+C for commercial interiors,
PCL decided to use the project as a test case.
“PCL’s commitment to sustainability is truly evidenced in
their new Toronto office where they pushed the boundaries to lead the industry
through early adoption of LEED v4,” says Alan Murphy, principal of Green Reason
who acted as the project’s sustainability consultant. “By utilizing the project
as a living lab for this new rigorous set of standards, we explored this new
and challenging rating system together for application on future client
The building has the ability to advance as standards evolve—from
the adaptable mechanical systems to the integrated lighting control system from
Wattstopper. Each element is tied into the Building Automation System. The system
monitors and controls the HVAC systems, allowing the building to run as
efficiently as possible.
“With the evolution of the LEED v4 rating system, spaces
that could have been Gold in the old system may struggle to even certify,” adds
Murphy. “As evidenced on PCL Toronto’s new office, with commitment and
integration of goals from the early stages of the project, it is still possible
to reach the design and performance levels that are now required to earn a LEED
A major change specific to ID+C is that LEED v4 drives the
project to energy modelling, rather than a series of prescriptive measures. There
are also much higher expectations on indoor air quality, including emission
testing for low-emitting materials.
Canada's leading general contractor,
PCL is known for achieving our partners' sustainability goals for their
projects,” concludes Craigen. “By acting as both the client and construction
manager on this project, we’ve created a successful outcome for our employees,
while gaining important knowledge that we can translate for our clients
interested in adopting LEED v4 on their projects.”
Toronto would like to thank the entire collaborative team involved in making
their new district office vision a reality.