Loblaw Companies Limited Headquarters

Design Architect: Sweeny &Co Architects Inc.
Production and base building architect: Ivan Morson

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada’s food and pharmacy leader, the nation’s largest retailer. The company’s headquarter, in Brampton, successfully consolidates key parts of the company across the country and presents innovative ideas for a green and comfortable High-performance Workplace. Reflecting the company’s community-based culture, this project revolves around an active, central atrium—modeled after a town square—and is designed with features such as  future flexibility, increased daylight, improved air systems, and healthy building standards.

  • Overview

    Client: Loblaw Properties Limited
    Completion: 2005
    Size: 550,000 s.f.
    Our Role: Architecture, Interior Design


  • Location
  • Description

    For its new headquarter in Brampton, Loblaw Companies Limited required an environment that would drive better results: increased employee satisfaction, higher productivity and faster problem solving. It also had the mandate to have a tighter focus on the company’s goals, and, as a result, better communication and crisper brand awareness. We collaborated with them and provided a new award-winning headquarters that reflects the same principles of confidence, adaptability, freshness and comfort that guide the impression created by each of its retail stores across the country. Similar to the stores themselves, the message conveyed by this new head office is one of connection to the customers who—like those working at Loblaw—want to derive value from their day, take pride in their work and enjoy the environments that make up the fabric of their existence.

  • Context

    This new 550,000 s.f. High-performance Workplace, located on a 9.9-hectare site in Brampton, represents a major initiative in Loblaw’s ongoing commitment to the environment and its employees. The building is arranged in two parallel, four-storey wings, offset from one another and oriented with their long sides facing due south to take maximum advantage of the solar exposure. The wings are connected by bridges at all upper levels, creating contiguous floor plates. The bridges and the naturally lit central atrium, become the organizational fulcrum and social heart of the building. The main entrance and reception area connect directly to the atrium with its large trees and water feature as well as a cafeteria and a seating area. The bridges themselves house the majority of the building’s meeting rooms and social spaces overlooking the atrium.

    Moreover, compact service cores are located at the four corners of this communal, lit atrium, leaving the floor plates of the two office wings unobstructed and providing maximum flexibility in program organization. Although the design responds directly to very specific needs and goals, this approach has given Loblaw a valuable asset that could stand in the future as a very competitive multi-tenant building. Further, a significant proportion of the site is dedicated to soft landscaping and planting areas that provide for the natural percolation and filtration of storm water, thereby diverting great amounts of storm water from the storm sewer system.

    The provision of underground parking spaces below the building reduces surface parking and roads, allowing more opportunities for soft landscaping. Building and site are connected by views from the glazed perimeter as well as by a series of exterior patio gardens that encourage both individual enjoyments of the surroundings and informal interactions between occupants.

  • Design Approach

    Loblaw Companies Limited has made a significant and successful investment in their most important asset—their people. Therefore, their headquarters is designed based on four main concepts:

    Future Flexibility — Designed with offset cores and a raised-floor system for all voice, data and power cabling, the open plan is suitable for a variety of future tenant uses, either through reconfiguration or multiple tenants.

    Increased Daylight — A shallow floor plate and the combination of sunshades and light shelves travels light deeper into the workspace, reducing the required electrical lighting and creating a more comfortable workplace.

    Improved Air Systems — A result of the under-floor air system that allows for individual user control over the temperature. More efficient than plenum air, under-floor air is a low-velocity system and supplies air at lower temperatures, resulting in less wasted energy.  Operable windows bring in the fresh air naturally, creating a healthier workplace.

    Healthy Workplace — Better air quality, increased daylight, individual controls, collaborative working areas and a sustainable environment that attract future employees.

  • Sustainability Features

    The sustainable design approach is founded on a series of strategic decisions relating to site selection, building placement, orientation and massing, which support the goals of flexibility, energy efficiency, human comfort and superior indoor environmental quality.

    The project features a building technology platform (raised floor system) for the supply of cooling and fresh air. It contains all voice, data and power distribution cabling. Supply air is delivered via the pressurized under-floor plenum through manually adjustable diffusers, allowing for individual control of air quantity and temperature. Automated diffusers are used within enclosed spaces as well as providing additional cooling at the perimeter to address solar load fluctuation. The supply air is 65º to 68°F on average, rather than the typical 54º to 56°F temperature used in an overhead system. This allows for greater access to free cooling and is much more comfortable. The perimeter heating (exterior zone) is provided by an in-floor, hot water fin-tube convection system which creates a warm air curtain at the glass.

    Daylight is harvested effectively using external sunshades and interior light shelves placed below the slab. The light shelf and blinds are fully automated. Working with the building’s orientation (long sides facing due south), this system minimizes glare while providing natural light penetration deep into the building. As sufficient natural light is detected, the perimeter artificial lights are turned off.

    The structure is poured-in-place, reinforced concrete which is exposed throughout. The atrium roof structure features lightweight king post steel trusses and a butterfly design to allow natural light penetration through clerestory windows while minimizing glare and solar heat gain. Indoor environmental quality was extremely important to the client. The naturally stratifying, occupant-controlled supply air ensures effective fresh air delivery. The building also uses low-VOC emitting materials.

    Flexibility in planning was seen as a way to increase the service life of the building by facilitating future reconfiguration or change of use. Crucial to reducing the cost of future change is the selection of systems that facilitate these changes. In the Loblaw headquarters building, this includes the continuous pressurized plenum for air distribution, structured data network connectivity, and modular convenience power. The consolidation of services (except sprinklers and lighting) below the floor leaves a 3.25m high interior space that is easily adapted to a multitude of uses.

    Externally, the site design strategy includes a number of features and design approaches that enhance the environment and support natural ecosystems. Storm water is collected and retained in a naturalized retention pond that serves the needs of the Loblaw building and other buildings in the vicinity. This communal pond retains and filters stormwater, providing a large, naturalized habitat for local birds and wildlife.