Workspace of the Month: Microsoft Canada’s New Tech-First Headquarters

The design of the four-floor workspace is inspired by Canada's vast geography
(photography: Microsoft Canada)

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 vintage-clothing studio—we are looking to showcase the most unique and beautiful spaces from all industries. This month we are profiling the Canadian headquarters of Microsoft.

Microsoft just opened its new Canadian headquarters in the heart of downtown Toronto. Located in CIBC Square, a new office building near Union Station, the 12,263 square-metre facility takes up four floors and intends to serve as a hub in Canada’s tech ecosystem. The workspace is a meeting spot for Microsoft employees, partners and start-ups to collaborate. Its location was chosen to be easily accessible by train, subway or car.

The new facility features cutting-edge technologies, like large screens fitted for video meetings in every conference room, as well as Microsoft’s first Data Innovation Centre of Excellence—a space where experts, students and community partners can come together and work on research or projects in data, AI and mixed-reality technology solutions.

While Microsoft has a hybrid work model that lets staff work from home and come into the office for things like meetings, the Canadian headquarters is a spot that all 5,000 employees can use whenever they’d like—regardless of where they live in the country.

The architect of the space is Toronto-based Perkins & Will, and the interior was designed by ai3, an architecture and design firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. The interior was inspired by Canadian geography: Meeting rooms are named after different Canadian cities; hash marks on the floor represent points on a compass; and wall decor is sourced from local artists, including Shaheer Zazai, Janna Watson and Rande Cook. The workspace features pops of “Canadian red” in places like staircases and on the second-floor reception desk where external guests are greeted.

Sustainability was top of mind while designing the new headquarters (locally sourced materials like stone from B.C. and wood from Ontario were used as much as possible), as Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030. To help meet this goal, the office is fitted with more than 3,000 sensors that track water use, energy consumption and Microsoft’s carbon emissions.

Here’s a look inside.

A fireplace sits in the middle of Microsoft Canada's headquarters
Microsoft has both the 43rd and 44th floor of CIBC Square open to visitors. In this space on the 43rd floor, guests are welcomed into a cosy seating spot. The area is inspired by the Canadian outdoors and the fire place is meant to evoke people gathering together and connecting—like around a campfire.
A big staircase that leads to the second floor of Microsoft Canada's headquarters
In the centre of the workspace are stairs leading to the 44th floor—the other level of the building that’s open to visitors. The wood used in the interior is largely sourced from Ontario.
Inside Microsoft's Toronto office where guests can sit in a waiting area near the front desk
The second floor has a reception and sitting area with a Microsoft light installation hanging against views of the CN Tower, intended to be a “selfie spot.” The ceiling’s angular design is inspired by the Rocky Mountains.
A seated area inside Microsoft Canada's headquarters featuring big chairs and a coffee table
Seating areas are designed to be comfortable and welcoming. The workspace is fitted with more than 3,000 Azure IoT sensors that collect data on heating, cooling, water and electricity use.
Microsoft technologies are on display, allowing employees and visitors alike to interact with new products like telemedicine software that lets doctors treat patients remotely.
Microsoft Canada's Toronto-based headquarters has a theatre room upstairs on the second floor
The “Envisioning Theatre” room has large screens that allow technology, like the HoloLens 2, to be shown in action. (The mixed-reality device allows people in different physical locations to work collaboratively though holographic experiences.)
Toronto Mayor John Tory at Microsoft Canada's Toronto headquarters wearing a pair of goggles to see the metaverse
Toronto Mayor John Tory (right) joined Microsoft Canada president Kevin Peesker (left) for the office’s opening in May. The mayor tested out Microsoft’s HoloLens2.