The Admin Hub for a Youth Arts Initiative Gets a Makeover

Check out what Perkins+Will and ARIDO did for an office supporting a Toronto-based arts initiative aimed at street-involved youth.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

SKETCH, a Toronto-based arts initiative aimed at street-involved youth, recently won a design makeover from  the ARIDO (Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario). The initiative’s downtown admin hub, transformed by global design firm Perkins+Will, is now an airy space defined by clean white surfaces, not unlike a new canvas. The bright whites are punctuated by pops of bold color on some of the chairs, cabinets, and carpet tiles.

“Ultimately, the SKETCH Admin Hub refresh was about fostering inclusivity and empowerment through thoughtful design solutions,” said Janine Grossman, principal of interior design at Perkins+Will’s Toronto office.

Read our project profile Q&A below.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

Where is SKETCH located?

SKETCH is located in the Artscape Youngplace in downtown Toronto. A converted school, the building now functions as a cultural hub for art organizations.

Who was the interior architect/designer?

Designed by Perkins + Will, the renovation of SKETCH’s administrative hub was led by Janine Grossmann, principal of interior design at the firm’s Toronto studio, with the help of her senior designer, Tabitha McCallum. Perkins+Will also engaged the ARIDO, so that this project could be a part of its “Renew-Originate-Implement” (ROI), a program that gives various nonprofit Ontario organizations or charities an interior design makeover.

Grossmann, who sits on SKETCH’s board, offered a unique insight into both the organization’s financial and space limitations, which helped better inform the redesign.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

When was the project completed?

The project was completed in September of 2016.

What is the total square footage?

1,200 square feet.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

The revamped space accommodates 24 people through a thoughtfully designed combination of workstations, sit-stand desks, and meeting rooms.

What were the construction/hard costs per square foot?

The entire project was donated.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

Which furniture brands/dealers were used? Please touch upon any notable products, how they were used, and if they solved a specific problem.

Perkins+Will undertook the project as part of ARIDO’s own nonprofit initiative, ROI. While Perkins+Will spearheaded the design, which was also donated through their Social Responsibility Initiative (SRI), ARIDO supported with donations from the industry. The list included everything from paint supplies from Benjamin Moore, furniture by OLG, to carpet tile from Interface.

The workstations allowed Perkins+Will to densify the space to accommodate more staff, while also providing versatile sit-stand options for six of the stations, which included two for hoteling.

Facing a lack of storage space, Perkins+Will found unique design solutions to utilize every inch of the space. Capitalizing on the height of the space, the designers brought in tall cupboards, while phone rooms also functioned as storage units.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

How is the company’s brand reflected in the space?

SKETCH engages street-involved youth through the transformative power of the arts. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the organization wanted a highly functional yet welcoming workspace that would reflect its long-term investment in the community.

To empower marginalized youth through a well-designed workspace, Perkins+Will’s Toronto studio identified inclusivity as a key design driver during the beginning of the design process. The goal was to provide a workplace that was more organized, and create an open and welcoming environment for youth, while simultaneously boosting SKETCH’S credibility and reputation to potential donors. The bright, open layout promotes inclusivity and will ultimately motivate the youth to take advantage of SKETCH’s programs by giving them a space that makes them feel comfortable and productive. In conceptualizing the design, Perkins+Will realized that the SKETCH Admin Hub is a place of order for youth who may not otherwise have that order in their lives.

Photo by Steve Tsai Photography.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

A highlight of the workspace is the touchdown area by SKETCH’s entrance, which encourages youth to work in collaboration without having to fully enter the administrative area. There is now a tremendous amount of increased storage with varying degrees of security, new lighting which extends throughout, and new suspended acoustic ceiling panels. The new workspace area also features semi-translucent screens, which separate the open collaboration area from the administrative spaces. Perkins + Will also provide new basic necessities, including private phone rooms, whiteboards, and pin-up space for internal messaging — all of which supplemented the quality and efficiency for the administrative staff and volunteers who run the programs offered by SKETCH.

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