OCAD U CO Incubator Offices – Toronto

Designed to inspire those exploring new pathways to innovation and problem-solving, the OCAD U CO incubator is a dynamic and vibrant workspace in the heart of Toronto.

  • Client OCAD U CO,
  • size 13,000 sqft
  • Year 2018
  • Location Toronto, Canada,
  • Industry Education,
  • Quadrangle was tasked with the energizing and innovative design of the OCAD U CO incubator offices located in Toronto, Canada.

    Taking advantage of its reputation as a hub for innovative art and design education, Toronto’s OCAD U has established a start-up incubator and executive training hub called OCAD U CO, or CO for short, where public and private-sector clients can explore new pathways to innovation and problem-solving, informed by design thinking.

    On the fourth floor of the new Daniels Waterfront City of the Arts building on Toronto’s East Bayfront, the bright and expansive 13,000-square-foot facility conveys both creativity and professionalism, with plenty of versatility to accommodate CO’s wide range of teaching and workshop styles and methodologies.

    Creating the space had personal significance for project lead and Quadrangle principal Caroline Robbie, herself an OCAD U graduate who worked with Will Alsop on OCAD U ’s iconic main campus building, the Sharp Centre for Design, or the “Tabletop” as it’s commonly known.

    Stepping off the elevator, guests are greeted by a bold orange ceiling and the letters CO, seven feet high in bright pink. Colour blocking was also a simple and efficient way t o mediate the scale of the tall, linear space and demarcate and differentiate its service areas — for example, the reception and service kitchen are dark blue, and meeting spaces are green, mauve and teal. At the same time, the colour blocking also creates visual impact and a memorable image already associated with the OCAD U brand — demonstrating the effectiveness of design in a space dedicated to the discipline.

    Passing through the dark blue reception area and coffee bar, one enters the Transit Zone, a linear space suitable for large events. Folding partitions can transform it into a series of innovation studios. That fluid adaptability, and the use of varying ceiling heights to practical and witty effect, continue throughout the space. Some acoustically insulated meeting rooms have glass fronts, while other, more casual nooks are low-ceilinged and open. Users can circulate easily between breakout groups, or hunker down in one place to hash out a complex problem. Small niches with benches are upholstered in bright primary colours and set into white corridor walls. The Tabletop’s signature black-and-white pixelation is quoted in the washrooms, and the bright colours and cut-out forms are a tribute to Will Alsop’s playful and artistic design. Floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the facility, providing panoramic views of the downtown business district and the waterfront, underscoring the connection between the work done here and the larger world beyond.

    Design Team: Caroline Robbie, Tor McGlade, Jessica Ingwersen, Stephanie Wiebe, Ted Shore
    PhotographyAdrien Williams