A Space to Create
LSW’s Architecture and Interior Design Studio worked closely with Gravitate to redesign their new office in one of Downtown’s Vancouver’s historic buildings. Equal parts adaptive reuse and space planning, our team set out to preserve as much of the building’s original structure as possible, while giving it a lasting, new look that would provide a modern, edgy agency like Gravitate with a chic, new home.
By 2013, web design agency, Gravitate, had been a fixture in the downtown Vancouver area for over 20 years. During a period of growth and heightened activity, the firm moved into the former Koplan’s Furniture building. This presented an opportunity for one of the city’s upstart companies to take up residency at a local, historic site.
From the onset, Gravitate’s talented staff were closely involved in the design and concept development for this 11,000 sf office space. There were a variety of interesting opportunities that influenced the interior design and layout. The use of clean lines, raw wood, and glass throughout the interior created a stylish contrast to the traditional brick exterior facade.
Rather than covering the outdated ceiling with gypsum board or suspended ceiling tiles , we sanded the original structure and made it visible, stylish, and a part of the charm. Enclosed and semi-enclosed boxes were used to create individual and shared offices in the center of the space, while the perimeter is reserved for creative brainstorming areas and open workstations.
One of the building’s unique features was a ramp that extended from the street to the second floor of the building, originally used for transporting cars when the building was a car dealership. While it proved challenging to create spaces over the existing ramp, a variety of work, meet, and play spaces emerged for Gravitate’s designers. At the top of the ramp, skylights were used to shine on an indoor “deck” that overlooked a Japanese-style garden.
A collaborative meeting space housed in a black box appeared to float adjacent to the deck. Further down the ramp, a game room and indoor theater enhanced the playful atmosphere for designers and clients alike.
To make sustainability a key consideration with every project, we organize our efforts into the following categories: Energy Efficiency, Embodied Carbon, Human Health, and Resource Conservation. Each category is associated with goals, processes, and metrics that we use to hold ourselves accountable to our clients, our community, and to current and future generations. In alignment with our sustainability benchmarks for projects, the following features were implemented at the Gravitate building:
Preserved and used challenging components of the building and transformed them into fun and creative elements; this included an existing delivery drive ramp from ground level to second floor (old car drive for dealership)
Workspace and storage off ramp
Movie screening room at base of ramp
Sandblasted and cleaned the ceiling structure to show off natural, existing elements of the building
Preserved the existing concrete flooring by polishing it
Created an indoor outdoor experience
Wood, outdoor decking to feel like outdoor experience
Plants and vegetation
Daylight brought in through skylights
Brought daylight into core of the building
Interior walls do not extend to roof structure in order to keep light coming through and into interior rooms and spaces
The open exterior walls (larger volumes) to bring light deeper in the main space
To read more about sustainability at LSW, download our Sustainability Action Plan here.
“The Gravitate building presented a unique and exhilarating challenge: we had to efficiently transform a car ramp (that rose all up to the second level) into a design feature. The creative team from Gravitate were willing to think outside the box and use the ramp to create an outdoor experience inside their own office. Not only did this solution add extra square footage, we were able to create a truly unique environment that gave the office a special charm.”
LSW Architects, President