An Award Winning Green Office Loblaw Companies Ltd
Loblaw’s desire to facilitate, partner with and enable their customers to invest and add value to their individual day-to-day life, take pride in their work and enjoy the benefits of a better built environment was considered in creating a design that is flexible and easily adaptable for potential future needs.
Loblaw Companies Ltd, one of Canada’s largest retailers wanted a new head-quarter in Brampton, Ontario approached Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects Inc. (&Co), a Canada-based architectural firm with a goal of consolidating their different Loblaw locations into a corporate headquarter while providing a state-of-the-art workplace environment. Understanding the desire of its client the company developed an inspired and innovative design for environment-friendly office plan by increasing the amount of natural light penetration into the work-place environment and reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the building.
The new head office for Loblaw Companies Ltd. was completed in 2005, is a 51,100m2facility on a 9.9 hectare site that consolidate a key part of the company. It presents innovative ideas for a green and comfortable workplace, whose features are highly competitive with buildings at developers’
Floor-to-floor heights are less than in conventional office buildings and the linear perimeter of the building is minimized, using less total building material, maximizing interior layouts and reducing maintenance area. Better air quality, increased daylight, individual controls, collaborative working areas and a sustainable environment attract future employees. The proper relationship to the surrounding streets along with careful landscaping demonstrate respect for the local society, while the corporate headquarter communicates its corporate ethos to its employees, visitors and to the community at large.
The office building consists of two 50,000 square-feet wings separated by an enclosed atrium and joined by two bridges on the east and west sides of the atrium between the floor areas. This offers over 100,000 square-feet of usable space on each of the four floors.
The four cores are offset toward the inside edge of the plan. This allows the full 110 foot width of the building’s floor area to be unobstructed over
most of the plan’s length. Minimizing and offsetting the core maximizes the flexibility and adaptability of the floor plan for different uses. Furthermore, this organization allows the building to be adapted to multiple tenant use, reducing the possible need for significant future renovation or construction, and thus, extending the building’s life expectancy. Crucial to reducing the cost of future change is the selection of systems that facilitate these changes. In the Loblaw building, this includes the continuous plenum for cool air distribution, structured data network connectivity and modular convenience power. These systems are designed to facilitate change in configuration as well as use, and will last the lifespan of the building. The consolidation of services,except sprinklers and lighting below the floor, leaves a 10 feet-6 inches high interior space that is easily adapted to a multitude of uses.
The reception opens up to the central atrium– the center of the building complex that fosters a microcosm of collaboration and community. It expresses the cultural power of food– Loblaw’s central business focus. It provides places to meet, eat or have coffee. Four storeys above, an open-web steel structure spans 89 feet and supports a south sloping roof. Clerestory windows light the 75 foot high atrium, which is filled with trees and a peaceful water feature.
On the upper floors, “bridges” of meeting rooms link the two wings and offer panoramic views to the atrium and landscape beyond. Visible from all the floors and interconnected with surrounding spaces, the atrium allows for a transparent expression of the Loblaw brand– how people work together to achieve a vision.
The site design strategy includes a number of features and design approaches that enhance the environment and support natural ecosystems. Storm water is collected and retained in a naturalized retention pond that serves the needs of the Loblaw building and other buildings in the vicinity. This communal pond retains and filters stormwater, providing a large, naturalized habitat for local birds and wildlife.
Further, a significant percentage of the Loblaw site is dedicated to soft landscaping and planting areas that provide for the natural percolation and filtration of storm water thereby diverting great amounts of storm water from the storm sewer system. The provision of 300 underground parking spaces below the building, reduced surface parking and roads, allowing more opportunities for soft landscaping.
The building’s design and orientation maximize light penetration. The two long offset wings have a shallow depth of 106 feet, allowing for abundant natural light penetration. The four-storey atrium draws light into the core through clerestory windows.
Low-E glazing is provided throughout, and automated sunshades on the south and west-facing windows lower when solar gain is at its peak. Interior light shelves reflect light off the concrete ceiling, bringing natural light even deeper into the space.
The unprecedented amount of natural light provided by these systems is augmented by energy efficient, high-output, T5, indirect fixtures. Photovoltaic light sensors turn on artificial lights only when necessary.
Compared to typical office developments, the external and internal systems save 50% in energy consumption and bring 100% more natural light into the workspace. This naturally lit, glare-free environment boosts morale and enhances employee performance.
In the Loblaw building, a building technology platform (BTP) replaces the typical dropped ceiling, all overhead duct work/diffusers, and in-ceiling voice, data and cabling. Each workstation, private office and meeting room has its own temperature control to provide maximum comfort, eliminating drafts and discomfort.
Air is supplied at higher cooling temperatures, 66-690F, in higher volumes at a lower velocity, dramatically reducing energy requirements for cooling and pressurization.
The Loblaw building’s structure is of steel-frame and concrete construction and is 90% reusable. Concern for unnecessary transportation and fuel usage, and a drive to support local economy, led to a decision to buy local construction materials from sources within Ontario. In addition to the usage of steel and concrete in construction, specifying low-emitting VOC materials, utilization of the building technology platform’s air circulation system and operating windows ensures fresh and clean air for the building’s occupants.
Loblaw wanted a great place for its staff to work, a place that reflected its beliefs. The new head office reflects respect for the environment– saving over 50% in energy consumption of the typical office building and 90% of the construction materials are reusable.
Most surprisingly, all of the sustainable features of the Loblaw head office building were achieved with only minimal added costs as compared to a conventional office building, dispelling the myth that green buildings cost more. This is the greatest encouragement for developers, building owners and users to build green.
More natural light, better air quality, collaborative working spaces, individual control and a mandate to stay green empower Loblaw’s employees to maintain a healthier workplace and sustainable lifestyles.
- MGS Architecture July-August 2008
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