AN OFFICE DESIGN BUILT
ON POSITIVITY & HOPE
In 2018, the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation developed Project Sunrise, an inspiring new vision for
their organization moving forward. Project Sunrise re-envisioned the office space to create an environment
that embodied their passionate mission, motivated their team of cancer fighters, and promoted sustainability,
health and wellness. A new home for the Foundation would be required to deliver their new strategic
plan. These new offices would be designed in a completely new way, enabling the team to collaborate and
innovate to accelerate fundraising, strengthen their commitment to their mission, and serve as a platform to
recruit and retain the best talent in fundraising.
“They were looking for a new beginning that would align with their people, the culture that they created
and future business goals,” says Mireille Metwalli, Senior Team Leader for the project. “They saw this as an
opportunity to reemerge with a much larger presence.”
The design team agreed that the office would be designed as a space to celebrate and bolster the Foundation’s
goals and achievements, while conveying a sense of hope and welcoming through the uplifting range
of spaces, colour and branding.
It was important for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation to create their own identity within the larger
brand of UHN (University Health Network), giving a spotlight to the human aspects in all the great work
“The most inspirational thing for us was the people working in this office,” says Norwood. “Their initiatives are so uplifting, we really wanted to bring that positivity and light into the space.”
“They were looking for a new beginning
that would align with their people, the culture
that they created and future business goals.”
Visual features included interactive donor and history walls in the reception, which incorporate physical and
digital elements to inspire and engage donors with the track record of research breakthroughs that have
happened at the Foundation while also highlighting the most critical funding priorities in need of support
from donors. An additional visual feature included shadow boxes inspired by museum displays created and
placed along a wood-slatted corridor where items of significance are on display, such as the iconic yellow
Ride For Cancer bike.
The colour palette was carefully curated to take staff, partners and guests on a visual journey that explores
wellness, creativity and movement. Referencing Project Sunrise, the colour journey begins with yellow and
orange hues, evoking energy and hope, as well as symbolically marking the beginning of a new day. The
space then transitions to graduated blues and greens conveying calm and confidence. The end of the journey
is punctuated with the vibrant purples and reds of a sunset. The range of colours is beautifully accented
by natural light, with careful placement of built-out spaces, glass offices and meeting rooms throughout the
“We took the hues, tones, and feeling of how the sun would make its journey, starting from sunrise and going
to sunset,” explains Daniel Norwood, Senior Team Leader for the project.
Another important aspect of the visual journey was the materials. The design team wanted the spaces where
people would gather to be a celebration of nature and life. The use of sustainable wood and biophilic design
elements, a type of greenery, combined with polished concrete, which was maintained from the original
finish, reflects the energy and pace of the organization.
“We took the hues, tones and feeling of how
the sun would make its journey, starting from
sunrise and going to sunset.”
The team chose an activity-based office to promote movement and support the workforce for their variety
of tasks suited for individual needs. The office is split into differing sections, or “neighbourhoods”, made up of
flexible workstations with height adjustable surfaces and provide a nice alternative to private rooms and offices.
Defined pathways act as “sidewalks”, which connect the neighborhoods together, all while supporting a natural
flow to the way people move throughout the space.
With the inclusion of a custom moss green wall in the reception area plus other biophilic elements, the team
was able to create a sense of calm and belonging within the space.
“Having live plants in a space does so much for people emotionally,” says Norwood.
Each part of the office was designed with a sense of purpose, multi-use and connection. The main café was
designed to be the central hub for staff to gather and interact throughout the day. The cafes, quiet zones, and
meeting rooms were designed to open up into larger spaces so the foundation can host town halls and staff
celebrations. It was important for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation to ensure that the overall feeling
was positive and inviting for everyone, whether it be a cancer patient, a donor or an employee coming into the
“The design for this project was really about giving their people pride in where they work,” says Metwalli.
Overall, the new workspace aligns with the Foundation’s mission to fight cancer while promoting collaboration,
innovation, and communication – all needed to deliver on their bold new strategic plan.
With enhanced navigation, an appropriate mix of spaces to support different methods of work, and tons of
natural light, the office staff are fully equipped to work and feel their best.