Nortel’s global headquarters in Brampton, Ontario – near the Toronto International Airport – became known as The City due to its massive scale and innovative approach; applying sound urban planning principles to create an innovative workplace environment that ably supported all functionally diverse staff, demonstrated the company’s values and fostered a sense of community.
It remains to date one of the best examples of responsible architecture; recycling a one million square foot underutilized and aging manufacturing structure by converting and re-energizing it into a dynamic new workplace environment that sustained upwards of 5,000 people and supported 24×7 operations.
A view of the original 1 million SF manufacturing facility
Defined through sound urban planning principles
The first publication of much international press coverage
The HQ’s new entrance gracefully links to the large scale “City” beyond it
The main boulevard links all Work Communities with urban support functions such as Bank, Post Office, Restaurants & Cafe’s, Dry Cleaning & General Store, Medical Centre, etc.
Several small community landscaped piazzas are located throughout and generally around the City’s key street intersections, supporting staff & community events
A large landscaped piazza that can support congregations for all-hands meetings, sports events projected on large screens, holding ad-hoc collaborative sessions, or just a private time for a chat or coffee.
Demised by privacy screens from the streets and alleys in the perimeter, these workplace communities are additonally visually defined by unique colorful banners overhead and creative signage
Each work community is planned to uniquely support its functional requirements, with a significant level of customization possible and selected by its members from an overall workplace toolkit
Each work community secures and pays for the amount of space it requires and chooses the workplace tools and layouts that best fits how it prefers to operate.
Clear signage prominently placed throughout the City enables visitors and its “citizens” to easily navigate and find desired neigborhoods and services
Several congregation and meditative spaces – in some cases open to the elements – have been located throughout to support the community’s needs to meet and/or reflect.
Extensive murals and applied art panels created by local artists and staff members, are located at key junctions throughout the City enhancing and complementing the urban signage program
Like any large community, the City is zoned along planned retail, commercial and industrial areas like the Docklands shown here, where Toronto based street graffiti artists were sought, given supplies, some expense money and scholarships to spray-paint the Docklands; spanning 24 foot in height across six loading docks with a memorable result.
Considerable thought and effort were applied to provide as much natural light into the cavernous facility as possible. This was achieved through the placement of multi-shapped large skylights and several roof openings over outdoor piazzas
Designed to run and operate 24 x 7, the City’s workplace environment provides a quiet and focused productivity setting
The well conceived signage program keys into strategically placed architectural shapes – like the columnade above – to enhance the population’s wayfinding memorability
Significant consideration was given to the volume of the large space and how to properly utilize it to reflect seasonal, corporate and community activities
Fountains and elaborate floor patterns help distinguish the various public piazzas throughout the community. Here a 10 ton solid granite ball floats on a water basin placed on a mosaic covered piazza
An extensive conferencing centre was placed near the City’s entrance which also connected to a museum of the company’s telecommunication break-throughs, product show-rooms and other customer/staff interactive spaces
Art and signage where integrated at various key places within the City to enhance the sense of “place” and aid staff acquire wayfinding instincts
A Community Centre shown here in its planning stage, was added to offer all staff a place to coordinate all volunteering activities, publish the “City Paper”, and hold neighborhood and/or ad-hoc collaborative project meetings
All information and connections with HR and other benefit representatives were supported from this community centre
Containers for the recycling of goods and City operational suggestions were placed throughout the workplace communities
Although initially planned to accomodate about 4,000 staff, the City concept became so popular and desirable to the company and its staff that it was expanded to integrate various other functions
This allowed Nortel to release additional commercial leases, integrate circa 5,500 staff in one owned facility and significantly reduce annual operating costs