Agile Wayfinding for Deloitte Montreal

The new La Tour Deloitte is the first privately owned office tower built in Montréal in 20 years. Deloitte’s Montreal staff occupies 153,000 sq. ft. of the 26-story tower, spanning seven floors in a completely agile work environment that required a new approach to wayfinding.

Like the agile environment itself—in which employees have no permanent desk, workstation or office—the wayfinding program developed by Reich+Petch(Toronto) needed to be about flexibility and choice.

“In the new space, employees’ personal belongings are stored in cabinets and work-related equipment including computers, desks, workstations and meeting rooms are available for booking,” says Edmund Li, Reich+Petch’s lead designer on the project. “At the beginning of every staff member's workday, they reserve what they need and find the current location of their colleagues using software and apps, which are available at designated check-in kiosks and on their mobile devices.”

This unique work environment created some wayfinding challenges, says Li. Helping employees find their work locations in a multitude of offices and meeting rooms on seven floors demanded a system that easily guides them and emphasizes the connections among the floor levels. Language is also an issue, since both French and English are spoken in Montréal.

Reich+Petch’s solution integrates navigation, communication, art and design using an international language of color, pictograms and sculptural numeric landmarks combined with signage that incorporates tactile messaging and Braille elements.

The design team created a comprehensive, three-tiered numbering system to help users identify everything they need in the new office, including workstations, desks, meeting rooms and personal storage units. They coordinated extensively with Deloitte’s IT department to ensure the numbering integrates with room-booking functions both physically and operationally.

The heart of the wayfinding program is a set of super-scaled, sculptural numbers that provide highly visible floor-level landmarks and push the boundaries between art and design. Made from brake-formed aluminum “folded” to create a dimensional effect that combines with negative space to complete the letterform, they are beacons across the space. Bright green arrows incorporated into directional signage use the same sculptural approach.

The wayfinding extends from the floor level to zone identification, denoted by oversized dimensional letterforms (A, B and C) for all work floors. The zone alphabets are integrated with workstation numbering so users can find their way intuitively. The three-dimensional letterforms stand out, yet do not overpower the office environment. “We wanted these signs to be noticed, but integrated into the interiors at the same time,” notes Li.

R+P’s scope also encompassed elevator and room identification; personal storage and desk identification; directional signage; and regulatory signage as well as wall graphics. The team also created unique identities to brand and identify amenities such as the wellness center, shop and bistro.

R+P encouraged Deloitte to go beyond minimum accessibility requirements for the office, and Deloitte agreed. “So we identified not just all rooms, but all workstations and personal storage with tactile lettering and Braille,” notes Li. “A forward-thinking client helps when we propose unconventional ideas like that.”

To bridge the language divide without being overly reliant on text, the design team created a set of expressive custom pictograms used throughout the office, from washrooms to quiet zones to a unique treadmill icon for one of the most in-demand workstations. The symbols were designed based on the letterforms of Deloitte’s corporate typeface, Frutiger—providing consistency between the typography and iconography.

“Overall,” says Li, “The idea of the wayfinding system was to expose the cultural, textural and unique quality of Deloitte. The sculptural numbers and arrows and pictograms speak to that concept.”

The wayfinding system design—sophisticated, integrated, accessible and intuitive—has been so well received by the client that the program has now become the standard for all Deloitte Canada offices and will be rolled out to other facilities in the future. 

LA TOUR DELOITTE WAYFINDING PROGRAM

Client: Deloitte

Location: Montréal

Open date: July 2015

Project area:  153,000 sq. ft.

Wayfinding and Graphics: Reich+Petch Design International

Design team: Tony Reich (principal in charge), Edmund Li (lead designer), Laura Lehming (designer), Ron Flood (technical coordinator), Jordan Zettel (technologist), Heather Aitken (content coordinator)

Architects: B+H Architects (building), AFK Architects (Deloitte project architect)

Fabrication: SAIC

Photos: Kerun Ip

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