The startup group – which also runs a network of designers and developers – commissioned architect Henri Cleinge to transform the ground floor of the abandoned Royal Bank tower, turning it into a shared office, cafe and company headquarters.
Cleinge repaired the marble inlay flooring and 50-foot vaulted ceilings, along with the original brass brass fixtures and light fittings.
‘It was about creating a discreet intervention without overpowering the existing shell,’ says the architect. ‘It was very important to establish a fine balance between the old and the new. The old had to remain the primary feature but the new had to be uncompromised.’
Once Canada’s tallest building, the 12,000-square-foot Royal Bank Tower was built in 1928 when Saint-Jacques Street was enjoying its roaring reputation as the city’s very own Wall Street. Royal Bank of Canada abandoned the structure in 2010 and it stood empty until recently.
Now re-open to the public, the space retains telltale elements of its former life, with coffee drinkers sitting at counters that would previously have been used to write deposit slips.
Teller counters have been used to divide the public cafe from the office space, and brass-plated steel partitions and glass walls added to create additional meeting rooms.
Adds Cleinge: ‘The glass is an important element because it is discreet and modern, yet with the transparency all elements, old and new, are on display. Glass allowed for the entire space to be perceived, as opposed to compartmenting the space into smaller areas.’
Workers can pay for monthly membership to reserve a permanent desk, or rent meeting rooms by the hour.