A Bank Relocates Its Office to an Unlikely Location – The Mall!

In an unlikely turn of events for the company’s history, Bank of Montreal (BMO) has relocates its 3,000 employees, originally working in multiple offices throughout Toronto, to a new location that no one would have guessed – the mall. The company now occupies four floors originally belonging to a Sears store in Ontario’s Eaton Center, one of the province’s largest shopping malls. With a whopping 346,401 square feet of space, BMO’s new location required the expertise of IA Interior Architects to create a cohesive workplace solving the unique problems that come with occupying a former department store.

open seating area in modern office next to escalators

Traditional offices are often located in towers spread over multiple floors, with little to no visibility between them. The new BMO campus has the distinct feature of being able to see different departments thanks to the traditional retail store layout in the central 100-foot atrium, which fosters a relationship amongst employees of different divisions. The escalators are painted with a graphic kaleidoscope of vibrant colors that remind visitors they are all one company, despite being on separate floors.

As a testament of their commitment to an inclusive workplace, BMO features a number of accommodations including prayer and meditation rooms, mother’s rooms, a foot washing station, and a sea for smudging ceremonies with augmented ventilation. A multi-language welcome sign echoes the mission.

woman sitting next to multi-language welcome sign

man sitting next to multi-language welcome sign

woman standing next to multi-language welcome sign

Accessibility is also an important priority, so IA made sure to create wide corridors for wheelchairs and scooters, as well as voice-activated elevators. Braille and color-coded cardinal zone directions help employees with vision impairment or low vision find their way.

BMO’s brand colors are used to distinguish the four floors. Each one is a signature shade of blue with the lightest on the bottom floor, which receives the least amount of natural light, and the darkest on the top floor.

woman next to number 5 sign

blue hallway to conference rooms

open seating area in modern office

workstations in modern office

As with all modern offices these days, various modes of working are supported by the different spaces and furniture. Open areas for informal meetings coexist with dedicated quiet zones for heads down work. Seating is unassigned, though reservations for specific workspaces can be made ahead of time. Workstations are outfitted with L-shaped desks but can be transformed into regular, harvest-style tables for larger meetings. Collaboration nooks, conference rooms, focus rooms, and telephone rooms offer additional flexibility.

BMO is also committed to sustainability, which is why it chose to renovate and repurpose rather than tear down and rebuild. The campus is seeking LEED Gold certification and is making strides toward that goal by adding energy-efficient mechanical/electrical/lighting systems, water-conserving fixtures, and a central waste-management strategy to reduce CO2 emissions. The benefit of being located at the Eaton Center is also accessibility to public transit.

two people sitting at workstations in a modern ofice

workstations in a modern office

work nooks in a modern office

work stations in a modern office

work spaces in modern office

employees playing ping pong in recreation area

Employees enjoy generous amenities like a recreation room with stadium-style seating, foosball and ping pong tables, a wellness center for yoga/fitness classes and health seminars, two coffee bars, and an adjacent community hub on the roof deck.

man playing foosball

perspective art in white stairwell

perspective art in white stairwell

perspective art in white stairwell, man walking down the stairs

white stairwell next to blue doors

person walking towards purple doors

Photography by Ben Rahm of Aframe Studio.

As the Senior Contributing Editor, Vy Yang is obsessed with discovering ways to live well + with intention through design. She’s probably sharing what she finds over on Instagram stories. You can also find her at vytranyang.com.

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