Massive new office complex in Toronto will set high standards for post-lockdown work life
It's been nearly 15 months since hundreds of thousands of office workers in Toronto have seen their regular desks, co-workers or mid-commute snack stops in the downtown core.
Surveys have shown that many of them are eager to get back to the office (or at least stop taking Zoom calls from their living rooms), and the prospect of doing just that is growing ever more realistic as vaccination rates rise and daily cases of COVID-19 fall locally.
Of course, there's no way any of us will be going back to the same workplaces we left back in March of 2020 — back when the pandemic brought city life to a halt and forced us all into the increasingly joyless (but admittedly privileged!) monotony of "working from home."
The office as we knew it pre-COVID has ceased to exist, replaced by what many employers say are new and improved, safer spaces in which we can work without fear of sharing respiratory droplets with our friends.
CIBC SQUARE is in the unique position of opening fresh, after the pandemic subsides enough for government officials to declare it safe to do so — and the people behind this gargantuan development haven't squandered the opportunity.
In fact, they're hoping to set a new standard for post-lockdown work life once people return to the office with collaborative workspaces, state-of-the-art amenities and unparalleled levels of accessibility.
"Every aspect of CIBC SQUARE takes into account the importance of human experience — the most important line item on a company's balance sheet," said Charlie Musgrave, senior director of North American leasing for Ivanhoé Cambridge, one of the developers of the building at 81 Bay Street.
Musgrave says that the multi-towered complex aims to set a "new international standard for office space" by embracing the responsibility to "enable the health, wellness, and lifestyle of a dynamic and multi-generational workforce."
So what does that translate to, other than the developers of a building doing something most employers should be spearheading on their own?
According to Musgrave, it involves a first-class fitness facility, fully secured bicycle rooms, high-quality indoor air quality and unrivalled proximity to unique and highly activated outdoor green spaces with the new elevated park that will open along the highly anticipated complex.
Guests and employees will also no doubt benefit from the building's easy access points to the PATH, GO Transit bus station, Union Station and Scotiabank Arena.
Unlike many huge office buildings in downtown Toronto, CIBC SQUARE also hopes to foster a sense of community throughout the development.
"Our building occupants and the Toronto community are at the heart of our project. All our decision-making looks to support community building. We aim to foster an environment where people can participate in meaningful encounters," CIBC SQUARE's general manager, David Hoffman, says to blogTO.
"We achieve this by connecting work and living ecosystems, connecting the property to nature, through curated shared collaborative spaces, dining experiences, and to industry leading amenities, services and art."
Speaking of art, Angell Gallery also just unveiled a "breathtaking public art installation" by Steve Driscoll that will grace the lobby and fourth floor canopy of the development at Bay and Lake Shore.
With 12 backlit glass artworks in total, the installation (titled "A Light Stolen From the Sun") has been in the works for more than five years.
No word yet on when the first phase of CIBC SQUARE at 81 Bay Street will open to tenants, as Ontario hasn't even yet been cleared to enter Step 1 of the government's latest reopening plan.
But when people do come back to work at this particular building, they'll be "returning to an office space like no other," says Hoffman; "a space that is accommodating to the new needs of tenants as they transition back to working from the office."
After that, we can look forward to seeing what the second tower of CIBC SQUARE at 141 Bay Street looks like. Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines officially broke ground on the 50-storey skyscraper just a few months ago and are scheduled to completed it by 2024.
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