Corus Quay: a 21st century showcase

Which media company has the best work environment in North America? One to beat would have to be the stunning new headquarters of Corus Entertainment. Had a tour of their multi-million dollar Toronto edifice at the foot of Jarvis right on Lake Ontario and it is impressive inside and out.
I was at the 500,000 sq. foot office and broadcast centre known as “Corus Quay” to meet Jason Priestley for lunch at the ground floor, lakeside bistro, Against the Grain. Priestley is in town to promote the second season of Call Me Fitz on Corus’ Movie Central as well as The Movie Network. He’s also a presenter at next week’s Gemini Awards, where Fitz is nominated for 16 of the Canadian TV industry statues. That’s still impressive even though everybody starts out with at least five nominations.

When I remarked to Priestley that sitting lakeside on the Grain patio seemed like an LA experience on this perfect summer day in Toronto he quickly said, “there’s nothing like this in Los Angeles.”
True, especially as a work environment. A quick tour of the digs from publicist Netta Rondinelli was an eye opener. At first the place reminded me a little of the North Hollywood headquarters of The Hub, home of Hasbro as well as the production offices for The Simpsons. Critics were treated to a tour of that place in July at the start of the last press tour. But The Hub has nothing on Corus.
For one thing, there is a crazy-ass, three-storey slide at Corus. Anybody over six can twirl down it. The dudes from Foo Fighters, apparently, tried it out.
It starts up on the third floor off a work lounge where Foosball tables and loopy lounge chairs are provided for the 1100 employees to enjoy. You’ll find Foosball tables tucked all over the joint, down in the offices of The Edge radio station or in the halls close to YTV. Nice to see Corus gets it is in the fun business.
Art from the employees is featured in the white-walled hallways and there are some gallery worthy pieces.
You won’t find a private corner office up on the fifth floor for Corus CEO John Cassaday. The man has a nice work space, but it is as open as the work stations found in the publicity department down the hall. Art rests on easels instead of on the wall.

Cassaday does enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Ontario and the islands but so does everyone else. You can watch planes take off from the island airport and see sailboats navigate the harbourfront.
On the 8th floor there is Toronto’s next great party space with a lavish outdoor patio just waiting to be rented out for a wedding; the first one takes place this weekend. Off that and past a trophy window filled with Geminis and other junk is a 100-seat projection room that would make Robert Evans envious. Floor-to-ceiling, two-story windows offering a spectacular view of the CN Tower and downtown office towers are hidden with the flick of a switch. Down comes a screen and pass the popcorn.
Overhead in the open atrium that faces the lake centre-front are chrome and glass bridges that look like something out of a science fiction movie. Peppered throughout the inner offices are little work stations where any manner of mobile device can connect. Some are like giant glass phone booths decorated by lively mosaics. A large, white boardroom featured microphones with colourful little stems. Bright primary colours drawn from Corus’ logo are echoed in various nooks and crannies.
Directly to the west of the building is tidy little Sugar Beach, quickly becoming Toronto’s latest outdoor hot spot. You can catch rays down there and gaze back at the Guvernment, think of what was and shake your head in the sun.

Corus Quay was designed by Diamond and Schmitt architects (Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Pierre Berton Library in Vaughan) with interiors by Quadrangle Architects Limited (no strangers to TV factories, with 299 Queen West and Rogers’ Dundas Square showcase among their clients).  Hats off to them both. The energy efficient project, which opened nearly a year ago, will soon have a new tenant–the staff running the pan-american games.
The office complex is seen as the first major domino in the Toronto harbour redevelopment plan. George Brown College’s new waterfront campus is going up right next door.  Will all this largess lead to great TV? Too early to tell. One of the new tenants is Good Dog, Ken Finkleman’s latest homage to Ken Finkleman. Why let Good Dog in this pristine new edifice just to stain the carpets? Seems Finkleman took one look at the Corus corporate digs and declared it the shiny new set for season two of his Movie Central/The Movie Network Curb Your Enthusiasm clone. Can’t blame the man for having good taste in buildings.

The view west from Corus’s 100-seat, 8th floor screening room

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