Social Space | The bistro lounge is used as a lunchroom, informal workspace and for big client functions

Social Space | The bistro lounge is used as a lunchroom, informal workspace and for big client functions

Study Hall | Instead of a formal library, the hallways are lined with bookshelves

Study Hall | Instead of a formal library, the hallways are lined with bookshelves

Drop-in Centre | “Hotel spaces” are temporary offices for people who usually work from home or elsewhere

Drop-in Centre | “Hotel spaces” are temporary offices for people who usually work from home or elsewhere

A Clear View | All offices have glass walls so everyone can enjoy the spectacular view from any location

A Clear View | All offices have glass walls so everyone can enjoy the spectacular view from any location

Equal Opportunity | There are no corner offices—every corner room is a teaming room or communal space

Equal Opportunity | There are no corner offices—every corner room is a teaming room or communal space

How Whitelaw Twining got dramatic new offices without relocating 

Renovating is always an adventure—even more so when the space is not only occupied but a workplace. Still, in 2014, when the lease was ending for offices Whitelaw Twining had been in since 1993, the law firm was reluctant to leave because of the location: on the 24th and 25th floors of the Granville Square tower in downtown Vancouver next to Waterfront Station—a public transit hub—and with unobstructed views.

“We knew staying would be a disruption,” says managing director Daniel Shugarman, “but as it turns out there was actually kind of a unique bonding experience. It was like going through a war together.”

People shared offices while the floorplate was renovated a quarter at a time over the course of a year. “We wanted a space to reflect the people who work here,” says Shugarman. “They are young and dynamic so we wanted space that we felt was young and dynamic.”

The new space is more open and less hierarchical. “As the nature of the work has changed in that it’s become much more collaborative, much more team oriented, the spaces had to catch up with how we work so the concept of an extremely large office just didn’t make sense,” explains Shugarman. Now offices are all the same size but set up to allow everyone to work more efficiently.

While Whitelaw Twining wants clients to be able to see how they work and be part of the environment, ultimately the space was designed for the 110 people who work there. “The product we sell is our people so we wanted them to be really happy,” says Shugarman. “It’s all about the people because that’s just our business—it’s selling talent. So to maintain talent, to keep it here and attract it here, we really thought we needed a space that spoke to the new workforce, which is what I think we have.” 

Office design by Gensler Seattle and Studio B