This content is made possible by our sponsors. Learn more about our OBJ360 content studio here.

MARANT Construction and Arcadis IBI Group collaborate on an open – yet intimate – office space on Preston Street

MARANT Construction office with IBI

General contractor MARANT Construction and interior design firm Arcadis IBI Group have collaborated on several high-end office fit-ups in the past. So when the latter decided it needed a new local office space on Preston Street to reflect the evolving needs of a hybrid workspace, collaborating on the project was a natural fit.

“We’ve worked with MARANT Construction on quite a few projects,” confirms Arcadis IBI Group’s Jessica Gozdzierski, the project’s lead designer, who works out of the company’s Toronto office. “There’s definitely more trust working with a general contractor you’ve worked with in the past. Having those positive experiences was a great thing to have going into this project.”

Collaborating on a world-class office space

MARANT Construction project manager Heidi Pershick, who led the project for the general contractor, agrees. “Our business was built on building long-term relationships,” she says. “Our founders have done several projects with Arcadis IBI Group in Toronto and built that relationship, so they trusted us to actually do their own office.”

While Arcadis IBI Group handled the design element, MARANT Construction supervised and ensured the highest quality build. 

MARANT Construction

“Having the opportunity to construct the offices of our industry partners is such an honour. In the case of this project, it was especially rewarding working with Arcadis IBI Group, a technology-driven design firm with global architecture, engineering, planning and technology expertise, to bring their vision for their own space to life,” says Jennifer Cross, business development manager NCR at MARANT. 

“Arcadis IBI Group’s office is a reflection of their core genius, creativity and attention to detail and is the cornerstone of their own portfolio so we were all delighted to be a part of this exciting project.” 

The 10,000-plus sq. ft. fit-up took around five months and involved a full-floor demolition and redo of the floor plate. 

That meant first tearing down existing partitions and walls, removing the old electrical system, relocating existing mechanical systems such as variable air volume (VAV) units, and other demolition activities. 

From there, it was a matter of floor leveling, adding a structural beam and analyzing weight loads, framing, re-doing the electrical and A/V wiring, redoing ductwork, and adding sound mitigation such as baffling panels to the ceilings. 

The companies were careful to reuse older infrastructure where possible, including reusing older duct work – “very smart in terms of costs,” Pershick says – and coring sleeves around the floor’s electrical room. 

And while much of the infrastructure is of the kind that hardly any tenants will see or even notice, it’s essential for a well-functioning office space. 

“All the infrastructure that nobody sees has got to be in first,” says Pershick. “You can have a beautiful space, but if your zones aren’t set up properly in terms of temperature and air quality, it’s not comfortable or usable.” 

An open and collaborative space

Arcadis IBI Group’s new space was designed with openness and natural light in mind, says designer Gozdzierski, to promote collaboration, teamwork, and to reflect the new reality of hybrid work. 

“We wanted to approach this with a fresh, modern design,” she explains. “Something that would provide the Ottawa office with different ways to more easily come together and collaborate.”

The space features a combination of individual workspaces, small and large meeting rooms, and smaller booths and enclaves where anyone can work or meet without worrying about assigned seating. “But we also wanted to inject some collaborative seating areas, where it’s more about being comfortable in a lounge-style setting,” Gozdzierski says. 

That means many of the office’s gathering areas feature plush sofas, with walls adorned with fashionable lighting sconces for a seamless flow through the entire space. The cafe and servery are completely open, providing a natural gravitational pull for employees wanting to come together, grab a coffee, and collaborate with colleagues. 

The main boardroom’s telescopic glass wall – imported from Italy and able to contract or expand on demand – opens onto the cafe, allowing the company to let the boardroom spill out into the cafe to create a much larger area to host events.  

And while the office’s ceilings are mostly open and completely exposed, Gozdzierski says the sound mitigation elements that were added double as a design feature.

“In the cafe space we incorporated a suspended felt baffle that not only looks great, but also absorbs sound. And then in the meeting rooms we used fabric acoustic panels in the ceiling.”

Gozdzierski says open-concept offices are currently popular with many companies, but every project is different and the design of a particular space ultimately rests on the end user’s needs. 

“As interior designers, we have to do our due diligence and ensure we design a space for the end user,” she says. “If the end user doesn’t collaborate much, they don’t need these kinds of spaces.”

Overcoming challenges for an on-time delivery

Designing and constructing an elegant, functional, move-in ready office space is never without challenges, however. Aside from learning the specific nuances of the building and dealing with post-pandemic supply-chain issues, these companies also dealt with a drywallers’ strike that ate into the project’s schedule. 

Considering Arcadis IBI Group had a set schedule to move out of their previous space and occupy the new one – and that the project was at the drywalling stage when the strike happened – the work action and its accompanying delay had serious implications.


Pershick, however, says MARANT Construction was able to adjust the sequence of operations on the fly to accommodate this reality and keep things moving forward. “That way, at least we could get some sort of movement in other areas and other divisions on site, instead of the whole project coming to a halt,” she explains.  

“And we always kept the client up to date, and found a way to push through. That’s why we’re construction managers – it’s our job to find resolutions to problems.”