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A Living Sketchbook

International Marketing Agency

Calgary, Alberta

The Big Divide

Critical Mass is a high profile, young, and creative ad agency hosting an impressive portfolio with clients such as Nissan, Adidas and NASA. While all of Critical Mass’s clients are outside of Canada, they interface with their international studios and clients on a daily basis making the integration of technology into their creative work process a priority. Critical Mass has a unique and energetic culture which presented a challenging design opportunity to develop a workspace that fosters a creative and collaborative work style. Our biggest challenge was creating a design solution for a large team of 270 people that maintains connectivity between the teams across a divided floor plate. The building is divided into two halves by a large, open atrium space. To encourage movement between the two halves, we split up the various primary support and social spaces and positioned them as destinations in the workspace.

Urban Planning at its Best

Critical Mass retained DIALOG to engage them in our Workplace Strategies Process. Through a series of culture and brand application workshops, we developed a unique interior architectural solution. Organizing principles for the space are based on basic urban planning principles to reflect their international nature and support how they move through the various spaces. Neighborhoods are organized on main routes leading to and through hubs of activity. The neighborhoods are designed to support focused work, cross talk, open area and private touch down collaboration and hoteling for visiting team members from their other studios. Meeting rooms, war rooms (collaboration rooms for large groups outfitted with creative work tools), kitchenettes, business centers and phone booths are located in the hubs. To further reflect this strategy, we’ve designed the hubs as a series of blocks within the exposed high ceiling environment. Site lines through the studio from the neighborhoods to the hubs reveal a series of mini city cores where a variety of buildings, or rooms of various heights and materiality enliven the open office landscape.

Global in Nature

Critical Mass is a truly global organization in its nature in how they engage their Client base. Their advertising practice in the virtual medium, the internet, makes them pro-active international networkers. Our attention to designing a workplace that is fitted with the latest tools and technologies evolved with thoughtful research and integration of infrastructure to support emerging “outside the studio” interactive technologies. This approach secures Critical Mass’s strong foothold in the international marketplace. Additionally, in order that this team is able to share their ideas and hunches and develop them into creative, advanced solutions, the environment is almost entirely tack-able and writable making the space a “living sketchbook”. This is how the teams remain connected to each other and to the solutions they develop together. Their work place supports their success which is fostered through sharing ideas with each other, their Clients outside their studio, and their Clients’ target markets in the virtual world.

Project facts

Size (sq.m.): 4,459 sq. m.
Client: Critical Mass
Completed: December 2011