Polar Asset Management Partners Inc., Toronto

MJMA Architecture & Design, Toronto

Photography by Scott Norsworthy 

Asked to describe a space that houses a financial business that is highly competitive, time-based and risk-accepting, one’s mind tends to recall scenes from Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street; sets that bear little resemblance to this project. In response to a brief asking for an environment that supports high-pressure and high-performance activity, the designers employed elements that eschew pressure cooker in favour of sobriety and stability. First impressions are formed in the elevator lobby, where an expansive stretch-fabric overhead light and cream-coloured flooring frame walls lined in charcoal slate tiles, projecting a serenity that continues into the reception and client lounge area, where they are complemented by white oak ceilings and flooring that signal circulation pathways. A custom glass screen panel system inspired by Japanese design uses an interior oak lattice structure between two sheets of glass to allow both acoustic privacy and light to penetrate. Meeting rooms and break-out spaces are lined with custom-fabricated acoustic ceiling panels with triangulated faceting that absorbs sound, while their symmetrical geometry lend a sense of stability and calm. The all-important “circulation space encounters” are further encouraged thanks to the company’s impressive art collection.