the urban corporate campus redefined

Allan Norris, President and CEO of Brookfield Residential Properties, knows a thing or two about what makes for good real estate. After a thorough review of its options, he and his team agreed with the merits of WestMount.

Q&A

How has Brookfield’s WestMount offices been designed to accommodate future growth?

With ample open space on flexible and efficient floorplates and 62,000 square feet in total, we have a degree of flexibility. We have added 20 employees since moving in so flexibility is important. As we anticipate sustained growth going forward we know that accommodating additional talent will not interrupt operations.

Describe the team approach that was applied to your headquarter relocation in Calgary.

Collaboration is a key principle at Brookfield. We asked our employees to tell us what was important to them in a new office space. We took all the feedback and incorporated as much as we could in the final decision.

How did Brookfield manage employee concerns when planning its new office and relocation?

We found the best approach was consistent and timely communication to our staff. We wanted all employees to feel like they had a voice in the process and we encouraged them to bring forth any suggestions or concerns. This open door policy also resulted in many good ideas from staff; it’s just a matter of establishing a forum where those ideas can be freely exchanged.

Did Brookfield have an overarching design statement or philosophy that guided this project?

We did. Our intent was an office space that was open and friendly, an environment that was welcoming and approachable. The quality in the finish was also very important. In our business you are often judged by the fine details so we wanted to ensure our customers, partners, employees and guests enjoyed a comfortable and accessible space. Our design partner Sizeland Evans was able to use this as the basis for their design work. The signature element in the office is our staircase. It serves two purposes very effectively: aesthetically it’s a highlight and it contributes to the office’s openness; functionally it encourages a feeling of community, people walk between floors rather than use an elevator.

Brookfield’s layout went against convention and converted most corner spaces into collaboration areas instead of executive offices - why?

This decision was driven primarily by our culture; these areas promote group dynamics. It also allowed us to flood as much natural light as possible into various workstations.

What was the primary reason Brookfield selected WestMount over other projects?

Location was paramount. It’s equal distance for employees living in the north or south side of Calgary. It’s also very close and very convenient to downtown and City Hall.

How can design elements like writing walls, corporate lounges and breakout spaces improve the employee experience?

We see it in meetings and discussions that take place in unusual spaces in the office. A formal process to find and book a meeting space can be extra work and it’s not necessarily conducive to an interactive environment. In our new office, people can network more spontaneously and freely which helps strengthen the sense of teamwork while increasing efficiency.

Brookfield was active in ensuring the design and construction of its space incorporated sustainability best-practices including use of natural light, low-consumption plumbing fixtures and earth friendly materials. Why was this important?

It’s the right thing to do - on several levels - for our employees, stakeholders and the environment. Owner QuadReal made intelligent, efficient building design and sustainable construction materials a priority at WestMount because it understands not only the responsibility to the community but also the myriad long-term efficiency benefits. This is a philosophy that aligns very closely to Brookfield’s. Both organizations have a long history in Canada and we both get that the decisions we make today will have a lasting impact on generations to come.