SC3–Smith Carter Office

Architect SC3–Smith Carter Architects and Engineers

Location Winnipeg, Manitoba

This office building for multidisciplinary design firm Smith Carter Architects and Engineers Incorporated (SC3) is located in the southwest of Winnipeg. The site for SC3 is wedged in between two main highways, with a light industrial district to the north and a suburban subdivision to the west. The design of this signature office showcases an environmentally stimulating workplace to facilitate creativity.

The building was strategically sited to produce emphatic views from outside-in and inside-out. A horizontal box cantilevers over the prairie grassland acting as a suspended billboard to the highway traffic beyond, as the interior volume frames the spruce forest, expressing a microcosm of the Manitoba landscape.

This new facility represents the physical manifestation of a paradigm shift from traditional service model to intellectual capital model. The design concept for SC3 supports the integration of the disciplines through a spatial model based on the beach: flexible and free for spatial organization, adaptable to different project teams over time, and functioning as a social equalizer that becomes the new workplace.

Exchange and collaboration between project teams is supported by a raised floor system which allows individuals to plug in or out, and to modify the infrastructure. As the core, the beach/studio stands in juxtaposition to the cantilevered skybox and the entrance gallery. The skybox space provides facilities for eating, exercise, reading, leisure, community events, and repose. Replacing the traditional reception lobby, the gallery generates an immediate interactive space for the visitor upon arrival. The gallery and skybox function as collaboration spaces, creating new ties beyond work that include exhibitions, community meetings and shared research with local institutions.

From inside SC3, the skybox creates a view of the highway traffic and beyond. The studio frames the spruce forest, filling the space with natural light and eliminating the need for artificial lighting overhead. The exposed steel structure references the openness of the skies. The decks and walking paths surrounding the building mediate technology and nature–a transition between work and leisure, building and landscape. The integrity of this transition is translated through the material strategy where all exterior materials of stainless steel, glass, and wood panelling wrap and continue on the interior of the building.

The design of SC3 integrates concepts of environmental responsibility and sustainability that range from the use of energy-efficient technologies to earth-friendly building materials, and expects to achieve the Canadian Green Building Council’s LEED Gold standard.

Peter Busby: Simple and refreshing, a straightforward approach to providing a work environment. I like the democratization of the workplace, the spatial quality and amenities for employees. There is a strong environmental sensibility that extends beyond the building, signalling appropriate intentions to the community.

Client Smith Carter Architects and Engineers

Architect Team Al Coppinger, Rick Linley, Jim Orzechowski, Ron Pidwerbesky, Karen Shanski, Scott Stirton, Jim Yamashita

Interiors Esther Patzia

Structural Peter Wertepny, John Zandstra

Mechanical Stan Diachun, Gary Hornby, Jim Mcewan, Dave Mckibbin

Electrical Howard Procyshyn, Steven Smart

Landscape Barry Yanchyshyn

Builder Md Steele Construction Ltd.

Area 50,000 Ft2

Budget $7.5 M

Completion July 2004

Photography Gerry Kopelow