Amazon's fancy new office in downtown Toronto has some of the city's best views
Amazon's global headquarters in Seattle have their insanely cool spherical conservatories and free banana stands. Amazon Arlington has its own dog park and farmers' market for employees. Pretty much every office south of the 36th parallel has consistently warm weather for workers to enjoy... but Amazon's Toronto Tech Hub is nothing to sneeze at.
And it's growing fast.
blogTO was recently invited to explore the American multinational's newest expansion in Toronto's South Core district, just steps from Scotiabank Arena and the Rogers Centre (or, if you care more about aquatic wildlife than sports, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.)
Like so many other tech giants expanding into the 6ix, Amazon spared no expense when it came to building a new workplace worthy of the talented (and fiercely head-hunted) science and engineering grads of Southern Ontario.
But would we expect anything less from Amazon? One of the most influential and valuable brands on the planet? Unlikely.
Below are some photos and plenty of deets on the newest (and largest) Toronto office from the 420-billion-dollar owner of everything from Whole Foods, Twitch and IMDb to... you know, Amazon. They of Amazon Prime. Of Amazon dot f***ing com.
First and foremost, you need to understand that Amazon's tech hub in Toronto can't be found within a single building. Rather, the hub consists of multiple offices (three so far) spread across a small section of the city's booming South Core neighbourhood.
Each of the tech giant's Toronto employees can access all three offices, and many float between them regularly, working in whichever environment best suits their plans and tasks for the day.
Fortunately, all three offices are within minutes of each other by foot and can be accessed via The Path (read: no need to go outside during the winter months, not even in the morning when arriving at work via subway or GO Train. It's all connected.)
Amazon's YYZ14 office, located at 120 Bremner Blvd. within the Southcore Financial Centre, was the first Amazon tech hub office to open in Toronto circa 2015.
The second chunk of the tech hub, called YYZ16, was formally unveiled in late 2018, after Canada's largest city famously lost its bid to house Amazon's coveted HQ2 mega-campus (alongside many other North American cities vying to be the e-commerce giant's second home.)
Amazon ended up building HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, not far from the U.S. capital, but YYZ16 (and the promise of what would spring forth from it) was still a huge get for Toronto.
YYZ16 spans five floors at 40 King St. W., where it houses project teams, including Prime Video and advertising. The aforementioned YYZ14 office also takes up five floors, these ones inside 120 Bremner Blvd., with two more slated to open inside the facility later this year.
In total, at present, Amazon controls about 350,000 square feet of office space in downtown Toronto, with some 2,000 corporate employees working across it. And that number just keeps rising.
Both YYZ14 and YYZ16 are cool, but it was the exclusive opportunity to tour Amazon's newest Toronto office — YYZ18, at 18 York Street — that prompted this article.
YYZ18 opened in April of 2022 and is by far the largest faction of Amazon's tech hub trifecta, with eight floors currently operational and three more slated to open next year.
Built with the "new normal" of work in mind, this 130,000-square-foot office boasts features that cater exclusively to employees who value flexibility, workplace ambience, comfort and lifestyle amenities.
The goal, says Amazon, was to build an "open, bright work environment in the heart of the city."
Amazon corporate employees have different options for remote and hybrid work, depending on what they do, but it's clear that the company wants to ensure, if not entice by way of, an attractive working environment for all.
The YYZ18 space itself is state-of-the-art, naturally, with 360-degree views of downtown Toronto. Every corner of the city is visible from up high across all of the floors occupied.
For those coming back to office life IRL post-lockdown weirdness, like most of us, there are "agile desks" stationed throughout. Employees can drop into any of these many comfortable pods for a few hours or a day.
There are also many permanent workstations, obviously, with sit-stand desks that an employee can adjust the height of within seconds.
You can push a button and have your entire workspace rise up or down however many times you want throughout the day.
Like YYZ14, YYZ16 and apparently all Amazon corporate offices around the world, YYZ18 features murals and other works of art inspired by the city and country in which it resides.
There are plenty of open spaces for collaboration, planned or spontaneous, within the newest Amazon tech hub building.
From formal boardrooms to casual, cool-as-heck multi-person brainstorming nooks, there is no shortage of options when it comes to finding creative spaces.
And for all of the shared spaces Amazon has available, there are just as many spots designed for someone to hunker down solo without distractions (Thank goodness, if you ask me. We aren't all built for open concept environments.)
Employees have access to myriad private phone booths, some of them delightfully retro-styled, as well as private office spaces that are open for anyone to use.
Free coffee, tea and other beverages are standard at Amazon's downtown Toronto tech hub, though you won't find unlimited meals and snacks around like you will at some other Silicon Valley biggies.
Employees can, however, check out and make use of an arsenal of Amazon-owned devices whenever the mood strikes them, which might be worth more than a few free KIND bars to some.
Teams working at the Amazon Toronto Tech Hub offices include Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) Cloud Computing (so huge, Google it), Alexa, Amazon Advertising, Prime Video, Amazon Music, and Retail and Operations Technology.
You'll also find employees in Toronto working in the fields of fulfillment software, marketing, robotics, and so much more. The bot picture below, named Hercules, was described to us as a "giant Roomba" used to carry heavy loads around Fulfillment Centres on behalf of human employees.
When Amazon hosts young coders for workshops at its Toronto tech hub, students sometimes get to practice writing code using Hercules, programming paths and actions for the advanced (and I'm assuming very expensive) machine.
While Amazon doesn't offer its Toronto employees some of the in-house perks they might find in Seattle, land of free banana stands, employees at the YYZ hub do get access to some pretty nice perks via the complexes in which they're located.
At YYZ18, located within QuadReal's SFC, workers can access a sweet private gym and a unique "urban forest" with its own beehives and produce garden in the heart of the downtown core.
This newest office also boasts a first-of-its-kind learning amphitheatre of sorts for training, all-hands meetings and other internal or external events.
If you get a chance to visit any of the tech hub spaces, keep an eye out for subtle design details, such as the reflective binary print adorning some sliding doors and walls.
Amazon is currently hiring like crazy in Toronto, so if you're qualified, and any and all of the above appeals to you (how could it not with those huge private lockers?), you can check out the company's jobs page here.
With roles like "Software Development Engineer" in high demand, you can bet that Amazon is a lucrative career choice for those up to snuff, regardless of perks.
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