Putting WOW and wellness together

Putting WOW and wellness together

When Meridian, Ontario’s largest credit union, relocated its corporate office from the downtown core to the west-end of Toronto, the leadership team was keen on creating a vibrant, energizing space that would support its strategic business objectives as much as the health and well-being of its employees.

Interior Designer: Donna Wood, ARIDO

Design Team: Michele Bertussi, ARIDO

Design Firm: Bullock + Wood Design

Project Photographer: Joaquim Santos

The new 32,000 sq.ft. location lengthened the commute time for many employees. The challenge for the design team was to create an inspiring and encouraging work environment with such wow factor that it would be worth the extra miles while giving employees as many tools as possible to do their best.

As a credit union, Meridian did not want the space to look like one of the big banks; they wanted to represent a smart, casual approach. The new office was a blank canvas and boasted stunning views on all sides, and the tree canopy, visible from the south and west sides of the floorplates, served as inspiration to bring the outdoors in.

Biophilic research has proven that people feel healthier, more productive and more creative when surrounded by natural light, indoor plants, quiet working spaces, views of the water and bright colours. Upon entering the Welcome Centre, staff and guests are greeted by the sound of bubbling water and a lush green living wall surrounding Meridian’s signature ‘smile’, a clear connection to their ‘come grow with us’ proposition. A pergola-inspired slatted wood structure, wood-like tiles and an assortment of carpets with tufting that mimics grass were chosen to enhance the outdoor feel.

Collective spaces dot the workplace, where employees can select the environment most conducive to the tasks they are performing. Areas for teams are defined with bright colours and a variety of seating, while glass walls let design elements pop and showcase the teams at work, enhancing a collaborative culture. To emphasize Meridian’s ‘Passion for People’, the best views were allocated to staff workspaces, while collective spaces were placed in areas with less desirable views.

A walking path, known as the ‘Meridian Mile’, wraps each floorplate and the design team emphasized the pathway to emulate a walk in the park through colour, pattern and texture. To further assist in reaching 10,000 steps, each floor has an enclosed treadmill desk.

The staff got a peek at the space prior to construction and when they finally walked through the doors of their new workplace, the reaction was definitely wow!

Donna Wood

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