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HD Supply Utilities’ new office complex got up and running in four months thanks to design/build collaboration.

When it’s time to move, you shouldn’t do it alone. And the new offices and plant facility that HD Supply Utilities moved into in Colborne, Ont. are an example of the value of client/consultant team collaboration.  

Headquarters in Orlando, Florida, HD Supply Utilities service a wide array of clients in the distribution, transmission and generation of electric power. Their Canadian operations have been serving electrical utilities and contractors across Canada such as Hydro One and the Municipal Electric Utilities of Ontario since 1978, providing a full line of products from their modern warehousing facility.

As the primary sales, administrative and distribution office for their Canadian operations, HD Supply Utilities required a new location to facilitate growth. They had outgrown their previous facility with staff sharing office space and products requiring storage in multiple locations.

The project was developed and led by design-build and construction firm Peak Construction and Engineering, who pitched a complete design build package for a new and bigger site directly across from their current headquarters. The first dig on the new site, previously occupied by a local farm, was in June 2008 and move in took place in October 2008. Peak led the design process with Barry Bryan and Associates (1991) Limited (BBA), who in turn added Bennett Design Associates to the design team to focus on the interior design portion.  Optimizing the project schedule was essential to completing this project in only four months.  Splitting the design services allowed the two firms to collaborate and still independently concentrate on the design of the building and the design of the interior spaces.

The space requirements called for a 65,000-sq.-ft. building with an office space of 15,000 square feet and a 50,000-sq.-ft. warehouse planned and designed as a pre-engineered structure with future expansion in mind. The office was custom designed as a single storey steel framed structure and planned to meet the column spacings for the office components. 

The architectural challenge was in finding a way to refine the image of the pre-engineered warehouse from a standard “white box” to an aesthetic that could work in an architectural harmony with the custom part of the corporate office. William Weima, the lead architect on the project from BBA, proposed a design that takes apart the white box and delivers a facade which breaks the box down into a series of elements highlighted with different shades of colours from white, gray, and black, skewed to the ground plane. The composition is a playful interlude that works as a dialogue with the natural landscape and the built construction. The whole composition is anchored at the main corporate entrance with a unique bent canopy that celebrates the notions of arrival and serves as a beacon for wayfinding.

Following their ‘Pure Design’ environmentally responsible standards, Bennett Design followed the client’s goals and took inspiration for the interior space not only from the exterior design intent of the building, but also from the green space and views surrounding the building. The finishes and furniture choices were all made with LEED practises in mind — the right to light and views — working to maximize the light flow through the whole office space, maximizing indoor air quality through the specification of finishes and materials with low or no VOC off-gassing, and through the specification of environmentally responsible furnishings.

The introduction of Brigholme Interiors Group and Haworth product for this project was a simple decision. Through the use of their modular, movable wall products, their systems furniture as well as their raised access floor system, Bennett was able to create an open, comfortable interior space that carried the playful exterior entrance right through the entire office. 

Haworth’s UniGroup Too system and LifeSPACE movable walls met all of the design criteria. These adaptable workspace solutions not only allow for flexibility as teams change, but they allow HD Supply Utilities to readily reconfigure workspaces as needs evolve. The look is contemporary and clean, and finishes are fully integrated for a cohesive interior environment.

Since LifeSPACE movable walls are shipped to site CSA Approved, unlike traditional drywall construction, there is no requirement for an inspection process that may cause delays. Full glass fronts were used to maximize light flow throughout the general office.

To meet the cabling requirements Brigholme’s Structured Cabling division supplied and installed 80 Cat 5E cables and 12 port Zone boxes throughout this RAF environment. Brigholme also supplied and installed remote access to their previous building via a rooftop wireless connection allowing for their existing data to be accessed during their transitional period.

HD Supply Utilities chose Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for their communications. As a result of unforeseen delays in data circuits from local carriers an additional cabling drop was required to be retrofitted throughout the office. This potentially time consuming and costly process was solved with relative ease given the flexibility of Haworth’s TecCrete raised access flooring with Zone distribution. 

“Before we even moved into our new office, we experienced the benefits of raised access floors. The data circuit snag could have caused quite a disruption to the project and have increased our costs by tens of thousands of dollars,” said Douglas Sinclair, VP Finance & Operations, HD Supply Utilities. “It’s evident that Brigholme’s experience in RAF cabling environments allowed them to react quickly, with minimal cost and without compromising the project schedule”,

The company’s focus on employee satisfaction stems from wanting to attract only the best and the brightest.  “We want them to walk around their new office and think, ‘This is where I want to work,'” says Sinclair.

HD Supply Utilities employees and management are very happy with the results. “We made every effort to include employees through the design process,” says Sinclair. “The space lets us work so differently now. It enables us to collaborate. People immediately embraced it. Our culture hasn’t changed – we’re still focused on being one team, driving customer success and value creation.  Now our Canadian headquarters is much more in line with our culture.”


Project Scope:

Design-build 65,000 sq. ft. (19,812 sq. m) facility

15,000 sq. ft (4,572 sq. m) office, 50,000 sq. ft. (15,240 sq. m) warehouse

Architect: Barry Bryan Associates Limited

General Contractor: Peak Construction

Design Firm: Bennett Design Associates

Furniture Dealership: Brigholme Interiors Group

Structured Cabling contractor/install: Brigholme Interiors Group

RAF installer: Camino Modular Systems

Furniture Systems: Haworth UniGroup Too

Furniture Seating: Haworth Zody in open office, X99 Seminar in Boardroom

Boardroom Tables: Haworth Planes

Movable Walls: Haworth LifeSPACE

Raised Access Flooring: Haworth TecCrete

Zone Distribution System: Haworth

Structured Cabling: Tyco/AMP Cat 5E

Carpet: Interface

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