The Toronto office of Capital One’s Canadian division was designed in “intellectual style.”

By Vilma Barr

Photography by Ban Rahn/A-Frame Inc.

Occupying five floors in a premier high-rise office building in Toronto’s Brookfield Place financial district, the corporate leadership for Capital One’s Canadian division challenged the design team to create a stimulating environment for its talented staff. Each level was to be visually distinctive to identify with its high-caliber workforce. A prime corporate objective was to encourage a long-term personal identity among the company’s staffers.

The solution to both requests for the 100,000-sq.-ft. workspace was to blend dimentionality, color, and sculptural statements throughout. An integrated point-of-view evolved that succeeded in giving the project an aura that seamlessly fits the lively working style of the employees with a visual effect that is both timeless and contemporary.

Capital One Canada is a division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corp. of McLean, Va., a holding company that offers venture capital and debt financing. It is also the 10th largest U.S. bank, comprised of 755 branches and generating revenue for 2018 at $32.4 billion, up nearly eight percent from 2017.

Retained as planners and designers for the Canadian flagship Toronto office were the globally renowned architecture firm of IBI Group; Toronto-based Alula Lighting Design; and Eventscape to fabricate and install the feature elements.

The designers enlivened a typically bland hallway by installing custom sculptural seating in bold blue and situated for privacy.


“Each floor is unique,” says Elaine Allen-Milne, Eventscape’s Marketing Director. “It was agreed by the design team that the floor layout provide multiple areas for both informal meetings and individual work spaces with comfortable seating and illumination,” she explains. Eventscape’s engineers and product specialists incorporated wood, metal, plastic, upholstery, and lighting for their installations.

Rebecca Ho-Dion, Alula Lighting’s Design Director, says the team developed their approach with inspiration from bold hospitality projects, which led to black ceilings and wall areas accented with white and vibrant tones of blue, orange, green, and deep pink.

“The lighting design complements this aesthetic while furnishing the functional light levels,” she comments. A 0.57/W/sf lighting level was achieved while maintaining IES-recommended illumination levels.

“Lighting design, fixture selection, finishes, and details are differentiated so that the elements are identifiable from floor to floor,” Ho-Dion states. These themes carry over from the reception area to collaborative hubs, and from the meeting rooms and conference rooms to the lounges, café, and break-out spaces.

The cafe area has a variety of seating arrangements to accommodate groups and individuals alike. The lighting choices are kept minimal so as not to interfere with the city views.


Elevator lobby: The surroundings for all five of Capital One’s office floors were identical and was the only significant element in the overall design plan that was repeated. It represents a unifying message to staffers to then pursue their individual or group projects. Leather-wrapped rectangular panels span 30 feet around the six elevator doors while black mirrored acrylic finished panels cover the ceiling, inset with downlights. LED-framed elevators add drama to the space.

Main reception: Suspended from the black baffled ceiling is track lighting placed between the baffles for wall washing. In contrast, a stacked plywood panel behind the receptionist area provides contrast to the black ceiling while pendants provide general illumination.

Break-out/meeting areas: Along the central activity hub – the connector between the office’s east and west boundaries – are partitions and break-out/meeting centers within the open office floor plan. Collaborative hubs are illuminated by low-profile linear luminaries from Lumenwerx that are integrated into the ceiling. Eventscape’s off-site fabrication was a significant factor in meeting the project’s fast-track construction schedule.

Corridors: Sculptural graphics and lighting develop a design language for central corridors in the five floors occupied by Capital One. On one of the five floors, two sections of a wall – 33′- and 41′-long – are the main features. One section is concave; the other convex. The 8′-high laminate millwork wall was installed in layers. Linear light from Lumenwerx provides even illumination for the blue millwork element and the white walls, which are all reflected in the polished hard surface floor covering.

Ceiling-mounted crystal star fixtures from LineaLight Group and flexible LED strips are integrated with a layered curvilinear wall for another feature corridor to create an illuminated environment.

In circulation corridors that present rotating art exhibits, track lighting from Sistemalux was chosen for the flexibility needed to accent the mounted works. Free-standing curved space dividers are fitted with colored panels to define a corridor that is also a setting for exchanges of information. Suspended downlight cylinders from Zaneen are recessed into the black ceiling, while platform seating carved out of the interior architecture evolved into productive destinations that are emphasized with rich colors.

Custom orange booths were fabricated by Eventscape to accommodate informal conferences in a semi-enclosed setting; this is one of the five distinctive corridor systems devised by the architects at IBI Group.

Open offices: The layered lighting solution for the open office areas was styled for visual variety. “Customized with Viscor are 750mm x 750mm direct-indirect LED troffers with integral air supply and return,” Ho-Dion remarks. “Light level, layout, and fixture efficiency were fine-tuned to optimize the balance between delivered light levels and power consumption,” she adds.

“Given the diverse lighting types, functional spaces, and architectural nuances of the project, lighting controls play a leading role in meeting the occupants’ functional needs,” Ho-Dion observes. A wireless digital lighting control system from Encilium was specified to support the diverse financial and support staffs.

Completed last year, the project is targeted for LEED Gold certification.


Client: Capital One Canada
Location: Toronto, Canada
Architectural Design: IBI Group
Lighting Design: Alula Lighting Design, Toronto
Lighting Manufacturers: Lumenwerx of Quebec, LineaLight Group of Italy, Sistemalux of Montreal, and Zaneen Lighting of Toronto
Fabricator: Eventscape, Toronto