Workspace of the Month: Inside Google Canada’s Seven-Storey Headquarters

The downtown Toronto office pays homage to Canadian artists and neighbourhoods
Google Canada's workspace is fitted with kitchens on every floor and game areas for staff (photography: Ebti Nabag)

In our Workspace series, CB is featuring interesting, smart-designed and one-of-a-kind spaces across Canada. From innovative home offices to out-of-the-box co-working spaces to unconventional setups—like this beauty company run out of a rural farmhouse and this carbon-bike company located in a former auto body shop—we are looking to showcase the most unique and beautiful spaces from all industries. This month we are profiling the Toronto office of Google Canada.

Google is big on collaborative workplace culture. Employees—who call themselves Googlers—occupy seven floors of an office building in Toronto’s financial district. The 7,538-square-metre space is fitted with game areas, a large cafeteria where free hot breakfast and lunch are served daily, a gym, a theatre for special events such as presentations and socials, an outdoor patio, and communal kitchens on every floor stocked with all the essentials: snacks like hummus and cheese, and drinks including soda, juice, sparkling water and, of course, coffee.

The tech giant opened this space in 2012 to accommodate its growing presence in the Canadian market. Jennifer Wang, Google Canada’s site program manager, says before the team moved into the building, the company asked what they wanted the office to look like. “We had a focus group of Googlers who helped decide what kind of games would go into our spaces and what kind of special features we should have,” she says. “This office is particularly focused on Canadian music and themes.” This translates into conference rooms named after Canada’s waterways, phone booths named after homegrown musicians and locally sourced materials, like wood, used throughout the space. The office also features furniture in Google’s official colours—red, blue, green and yellow.

The architect is global firm HOK and the interior design is by Toronto-based iN STUDIO. The space can accommodate 420 employees across teams like AI research, marketing, engineering and sales. Right now, the company has a hybrid work model in place. Staff come into the office three days a week.

In 2015, Google took over another floor in the building to create a “client experience centre” where it hosts external events and showcases the latest tech, like smart devices. The company expanded again in 2017 when it opened up an additional floor for workers with a theme inspired by Toronto’s cultural diversity. “All conference and phone rooms are named after neighbourhoods in the city, like Little Italy and Chinatown,” Wang says. In addition to this HQ, Google has two other office spaces in the city, and is moving into a new space on King Street when construction is complete in the near future.

Here’s a look inside.

Look closely and you’ll see that this Google sign is actually a fish tank—one with colourful live fish. This seated area is a common space for employees to meet or relax, or work from if they need a change of scenery.
This is one of the large conference rooms used for meetings. The rooms are fitted with screens and cameras—a feature that isn’t a result of the pandemic. “This is the typical setup in our office,” says Wang. “Our conference rooms allow the person who is working from home, or from a different office, to join through Google Meet.”
A photo of a cold brew coffee bar at Google Canada's office
Food is a very important part of Google’s culture. In mini kitchens, found on each floor, workers can grab drinks like kombucha and cold brew coffee. “We typically like to source from local vendors, so a lot of the coffee we use is from small businesses, like Pilot Coffee Roasters,” says Wang.
A phone booth inside Google Canada's office named after Shania Twain
The office is fitted with small, private phone rooms used for calls or video meetings. The spaces are named after Canadian singers, like Shania Twain, and the walls are covered in lyrics of the artist’s songs in Morse code.
A staircase inside Google Canada's Toronto office
Keeping on theme with all things Canadiana, a CN Tower graphic lines the floor on top of Google’s colours in one stairway. On the wall at the bottom of the stairs is an art installation made out of Rubik’s cubes in the shape of an Android logo.
A photo of the cafe inside Google Canada's office
Every day, staff can enjoy free breakfast and lunch. The menu regularly changes and will draw inspiration from special events and holidays, like Lunar New Year. Every Thursday, Google hosts a large social gathering for all teams in the cafeteria where staff can mingle.
A video game inside Google Canada's Toronto office
In this mini kitchen are two racing arcade games and a seated area for staff to relax in. All mini kitchens are stocked with endless snacks and drinks. The walls in this one are covered in Toronto neighbourhood names.