Govan Brown house interior stairs

Govan Brown Headquarters

Outside-in: Workplace in the Junction

As con­struc­tion man­agers spe­cial­iz­ing in com­mer­cial inte­ri­ors, the project to cre­ate a new work­place for Gov­an Brown demand­ed a didac­tic approach. It entailed the repur­pos­ing of a 1930’s steel fab­ri­ca­tion facil­i­ty into a state-of-the-art work­place for the firm’s Toron­to head­quar­ters. The mate­r­i­al palette for this project looked to stan­dard, off-the-shelf build­ing mate­ri­als to be re-pre­sent­ed in abstract­ed, even dec­o­ra­tive ways.

Ply­wood sheath­ing, met­al deck­ing, per­fo­rat­ed pan­els, open web steel joists, and cold-rolled steel plate define enclosed areas of work­place revealed from the exposed mason­ry and con­crete of the vin­tage, host build­ing. Famil­iar, ubiq­ui­tous build­ing mate­ri­als acquire new mean­ing via unex­pect­ed adja­cen­cies and detail­ing.

Var­i­ous ded­i­cat­ed and non-ded­i­cat­ed work­spaces and meet­ing lounges fill the space around and between objec­ti­fied meet­ing rooms, and acousti­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed offices. These enclosed spaces care­ful­ly main­tain oblique views through the work space, uni­fy­ing the ‘fac­to­ry floor.’

As a social work­place, ameni­ties like an in-house gym, recre­ation room, and roof deck lounge with an out­door kitchen were incor­po­rat­ed. Even with the con­tem­po­rary pro­gram­ming, fur­ni­ture and fin­ish­es of the space, the indus­tri­al his­to­ry of the build­ing still shines through.

Govan Brown Headquarters
Board room mobile of recov­ered indus­tri­al arti­facts brings the building’s his­to­ry always present.

Above the table in one of the con­fer­ence rooms, a “mobile” is con­struct­ed of sal­vaged machin­ery from the steel fac­to­ry floor, art­ful­ly con­nect­ing the past and present.

Four-room meet­ing pod in cor­ru­gat­ed met­al.
A refur­bished rel­ic of the steel fab­ri­ca­tion shop adorns the new build­ing entrance court­yard.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Gov­an Brown

  • Location

    Toron­to, Ontario

  • Size

    23,000 sq.ft

  • Status


  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Struc­tur­al — Black­well Bow­ick

    Elec­tri­cal — Mulvey+Banani (MBII)

    Mechan­i­cal — ENSO Sys­tems

  • Photography

    Richard John­son

  • Artist / Graphics

    Mobile Fab­ri­ca­tor — Nel­son and Gar­rett