PROJECT OF THE YEAR: Mouvement Desjardins’ Executive Floors at the Complexe Desjardins, Montréal

Provencher_Roy Design D'Intérieur, Montréal

Photography by David Boyer 

If you are a co-operative that espouses values of community and equity, then it stands to reason that everyone should have access to nice things, not just those at the top, correct? This was certainly the guiding principle behind the reformation of the Complexe Desjardins executive floors for Mouvement Desjardins, a member-owned co-operative. However, “nice things” in this case did not mean an arcade of “faddish” design gimmicks; instead, the space oozes refined elegance. More Audrey Hepburn, less Kim Kardashian.

A light-filled reception space surrounding a central preserved core anchors the 39th floor, beyond which guests and executives are treated to multiple entertainment spaces, from lounges to break-out rooms to executive dining rooms that double as conference rooms, all serviced by an executive kitchen. On the 40th floor, direct access to natural light serves as the common thread. Traditionally enclosed offices, in particular the ones at the building’s corners, have been turned over to quiet yet multi-functional meeting areas, with unassigned workstations throughout illustrating an embracement of the new era of flexible work. The quest for nice things continues in the materials palette, for which the designers didn’t have to look far. Locally sourced high-end materials were chosen wherever possible: floors are made of locally produced terrazzo tiles; work surfaces and wood panelling are made of locally sourced white oak; and 50 per cent of the furniture was sourced from Québec companies, with 40 per cent of the rest coming from other Canadian companies. Even Desjardins’ impressive art collection is primarily Canadian works.

“The space presented a calming and simple elegance, thoughtfully organized within a consistent and inviting backdrop, void of pretentiousness. Refined detailing inside a balanced environment, delivering a timeless solution that is beautifully executed and in perfect harmony. The experience can be likened to the feeling of running one’s fingers through velvet for the first time. A space that calms the soul.”— Greg Parsons, Interior Design Director, DEXD

“Timeless, elegant and incredibly well-detailed, this executive floor is an exercise in restraint. It eschews the common faux pas that we see too often, where big budgets just mean adding more stuff: finishes, textures and expensive tchotchkes. This one embodies Mies’ oft-misunderstood phrase, “less is more.”” Arnaud Marthouret, founder, Revelateur Studio

“The Mouvement Desjardins’ Executive Floors at the Complexe Desjardins project deftly addresses what matters most right now in the workplace – diverse spaces that offer a variety of experiences for people to independently and collaboratively perform at their best. The design intent is strong and responds sensitively to the needs of the current moment. The execution of the project is both skillful yet subtle; using thoughtful details to create an inspiring atmosphere in service of the people that use the space.” — Barbora Vokac Taylor, principal, Barbora Vokac Taylor Architect Inc.