Five-storey bio wall, spiral slide for Corus Quay staff

After five years of planning and three years of construction, broadcaster Corus Entertainment Inc. held the official opening of its new office building, named Corus Quay, on Toronto’s lakefront where the concept of collaboration was reflected in not only the design of the facility but in the technology behind it all.

“We felt that we couldn’t really cement in the concept of collaboration and shared unless we made the structural changes,” said Scott Dyer, chief technology officer with Toronto-based Corus Entertainment.

The company, which manages several radio stations and specialty channels, runs its services out of a converged and fully digital infrastructure where IT, radio and broadcast technology are centralized.

“One of the great things about a new building is you can start from scratch and you can build things the way you think they should be built,” said Dyer. He added that Corus’ IT department has between 50 and 60 staff divided into an infrastructure and application delivery groups.

All this runs out of an 8,000-square-foot data centre, which Dyer said made sense during the planning stage but technological advances have since allowed Corus Entertainment to utilize less of that square footage.  

In consolidating 11 locations and 1,100 employees into Corus Quay, virtualization proved useful in centralizing the infrastructure and cutting back on server sprawl. Server virtualization reduced servers from 300 to 30. Desktop virtualization made remote access to employee desktops possible from anywhere across the facility.

“We did that because we have a large number of meeting rooms and a very collaborative staff and wanted people to be able to access their files and access their desktops wherever they were,” said Dyer.

With no fewer than 150 meeting rooms and 250 spaces for gathering, staff are not confined to their desktops. There’s also a spiraling slide stemming from several floors above for those who want a speedier route to the ground floor.

Collaboration is also reflected in the choice of apps. Employees have an intranet on SharePoint, and have broad access and search capabilities of corporate data and documents on Open Text’s ECM suite. Dyer said having a digital asset management strategy for its broadcast and content businesses means all content can be accessed via a Web interface on the any desktop.

The official opening event was not just about showcasing the technology behind Corus Quay. A brief tour of the colourful open-context facility revealed a very environmentally conscious facility including a five-storey bio wall that purifies the internal air.

Jack Diamond, senior partner with Diamond and Schmitt Architects, told the audience during the launch event that Corus Quay succeeds in “bringing knowledge-based work to the waterfront.”

Diamond added that the goal is for Corus Quay to achieve LEED Gold Certification for its environmentally friendly design.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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