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Steele and Cotaras take ‘People Driven Design’ Message to National Conferences

Two of FBM’s Partners, interior designer Nikki Steele and president and architect George Cotaras, delivered engaging presentations at two different national architecture and design-focused conferences during the month of May.

Currently leading one of the largest Government of Canada fit-ups to date on Bedford Row in Halifax, Nikki was asked by the Workplace Solutions Team with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to co-present with Melayna Simister, an interior designer with PSPC, at the 2019 ROPIC Forum on the Workplace, a bi-annual event held in Ottawa on May 14th.

Their talk focused on The GC Workplace Experience: User-Centred Design Principles, providing an overview of “activity based working” that demonstrates the importance of design to the workplace experience.

The Government of Canada has developed a vision for a modern workplace for the new public service: GCworkplace. In partnership with private industry, GCworkplace is promoting a user-centered design approach to drive culture, nurture community, enable choice and promote health and wellness. 

The “activity based working” design concept recognizes employees engage in a number of different activities on any given day, and choosing the right setting to accommodate those activities is a fundamental part of their success. It provides autonomy to the employee which drastically increases engagement and in turn supports the return on investment.

Nikki and Melayna noted in their presentation that while some types of activities are increasingly being done remotely (focused, individual knowledge work), other types of activities need a platform more than ever – which means that workplaces must therefore cultivate spaces to support these initiatives.

“With remote working and virtual presence on the rise, the role of the workplace is evolving,” says Nikki. “Through careful consideration of the user experience, workplace real estate can be leveraged as a tool to promote organizational values, attract talent, enable innovation, tap into the power of a diverse workforce, and foster a culture of equity.”


George in Vancouver

On May 7th, George was invited by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) to speak at their annual conference.

The theme of this year’s conference was “The Art of Conversation” and was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. 

As the principal-in-charge of the Halifax Central Library project, George approached the conference’s theme by demonstrating how a distinct and accommodating collaborative design process inspired a hugely successful work of architecture, and ultimately connected a diverse community of social and cultural groups.

George outlined the Halifax Central Library’s most important attribute; being its contribution to social sustainability through multiple types of community spaces that facilitate community focus and interaction.

“In the case of the Library, the ‘Art of Conversation’ we carried out in Halifax was a variety of engagements and conversations with the diverse groups within the community of Halifax to generate a better understanding and an increased depth of insight, for both the designers and the residents,” said George. “As such, everyone felt they had a place in the new facility, well before it opened its doors.”