Bureau 100: NFOE new office

Bureau 100: NFOE new office

NFOE et associés architectes

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Location:
Montreal, Quebec

Completion:
2012

Gross area:
1,059 m2

Construction cost:
$1,2M

The building, the first skyscraper in Montreal – better known as the New York Life Building (1887–89) – stands out from its surroundings for its exuberant cladding of Scottish red sandstone and red granite from the Thousand Islands. A successful synergistic relationship with the owner (winner of the CIGM Commercial Heritage Building Award in 2005) resulted in a large-scale restoration project on the first two floors, occupied by NFOE. The interior, which had deteriorated considerably, was returned to its original state, with impressive Corinthian columns, ornate ceiling mouldings, and original woodwork. All of this, plus the immense windows and light colours, contribute to creating a stimulating work environment.

The project’s aesthetic approach links past and present in a subtle play between verticals and horizontals. Both floors have been freed of all the partitions of previous renovations. The simple, elegant furnishings act as a background for this space rich in architectural details. The workstations in the open-plan space encourage interaction among work groups, while offering the possibility for individual thought and reflection. Zones for improvised meetings are located in proximity to the workstations. The levels are composed of open spaces that emphasize the original ornamentations of the columns, ceilings, mouldings, and woodwork. The bank vault is still in place on the ground floor and is now used as a library.

The different interventions are composed of pure, minimal lines. A dialogue is created among the glass, drywall, and metal – among strength, transparency, and the weight of the materials. Only in the ground-floor waiting area are there touches of colour: a green monolith and a metal strip floating on a glass panel play against the white classical columns.

The original woodwork and fireplace have been preserved in the ground-floor conference room. Above the woodwork, the dark-coloured walls amplify the height under the ceiling and visually detach the ornate mouldings from the wall. The lighting fixtures, with a contemporary aesthetic, seem to fall, like water drops, from the ceiling to the floor. These original and contemporary ornamentations add cachet to this space, which opens on to Place d'Armes.

Awards:
Grands prix du design 2012 – Category: Offices 5 000 to 20 000 ft2, Montreal, QC
Grands prix du design 2012 – Category: Lighting special award Ronald-Tremblay, Montreal, QC

Publication:
The Office Idea Book, 2012, New York, NY

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