With a mirrored glass facade, sleek landscaping, and bold concrete features throughout, there’s a building off the Strandherd exit of Highway 416 that looks more like a modern museum or a boutique hotel than the main office of a construction company. And like many modern facilities, it tricks the eye. Built into a berm, it’s actually two separate components: there’s a four-storey office building and an industrial facility for testing materials. Completed in June 2018, The Core — as it’s called by its inhabitants, the staff of Tomlinson Group — is a beautiful new space for a growing company.
The Core (a name that stands for Central Operations for Results and Excellence) brings the many departments of Tomlinson to one address — especially useful when putting together detailed project proposals. For the first time, their entire staff of 1,500 are based in one place.
In building The Core, Tomlinson not only gave their staff sweet new digs, but they were also able to show off their prowess in the field. The undulating landscape, the concrete mixes that incorporate sensors connected to an app, the boardrooms that appear to float over a three-storey atrium — you could call it showing off, but we love it.
We talk to project lead Samantha Schneider of Christopher Simmonds Architect, the lead designer on The Core, about this unique new office.
The bold facade is softened by the surrounding berms, which also helps to bring the two buildings together. In the above photo, the primary focus is the glass-fronted office tower. Schneider notes that the large rocks represent their background in quarry — Tomlinson currently operates 14 quarries in eastern Ontario.
The photo below shows a peek at the entrance to the test facility — it’s just behind the saplings. And it helps show the scale of the project; the land was flat land prior to this build. Tomlinson brought their heavy machinery, expertise, and vision to shape the corner lot, paying special attention to the landscaping and plant choices. In the end, it means The Core is sculptural and bold, yet also sensitive to its environment and somewhat calming. (If you know the Canadian War Museum, this building-in-a-berm will feel familiar.)
Working with Lashley and Associates, Tomlinson chose low-maintenance plants that are native to the area in order to project an environmentally-friendly image, convey the company’s background in hardscaping, and offer a nice natural surrounding for the staff who are so often in chaotic environments.
When Tomlinson asked its staff what they wanted in the new building, more eating spaces (and more food) were among the top requests. Here’s the main cafeteria space; hot food is prepared in the kitchen, shown at the back.
People convene easily, and spontaneously, in the various seating areas, which range from long family-style tables to smaller booths and cafe tables. And there’s a TV for when you just want to flake out after a long shift.
Christopher Simmonds Architect did the bulk of the interior designing, working with Ottawa Business Interiors for the furniture.
The office tower features a three-storey atrium in the middle, creating a sleek, industrial ambience. From this view you can see the eating areas on the first floor, and the board rooms and offices on upper floors — there’s a kitchenette on every floor.
Concrete was used to beautiful effect throughout the buildings. Schneider points out that the bathrooms were built with extra large stalls and vanities, to really give staff an easy, comfortable space to unwind.
In the test facility — shown below, easily recognizable by its eyewash station — traditional desks are situated right beside the heavy machinery. Schneider says that by designing the facility with simple glass walls separating the two sections, The Core achieves two great things: improved communications between the people doing the tests and those processing the results, and natural light for everyone.