A celebration of partnership, collaboration, and inter-connection

Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund

Year Completed



Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund


Edmonton, AB


260,000 SF


Get in Touch



Creating a unified and collaborative space for employees and members alike

The Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund (ATRF) serves as the trustee, administrator, and custodian of the assets of the Teachers’ Pension Plan. The ATRF has a long history with Alberta teachers since first being established in Alberta Legislature in 1939. At the time they serviced 5,844 teacher members; today they secure and oversee pensions for more than 80,000 teachers.

This project involved merging a new addition together with their existing space in Edmonton’s Barnett House (incidentally the building was named after John Barnett, the first Executive Director of the ATRF). Barnett House is located in Edmonton’s Queen Alexandra neighbourhood, which is a mix of residential and commercial.



Fostering a welcoming space that supports transparency as well as privacy

The ATRF is unique in that it has two very distinct employee roles – each one serving an important, albeit a very different, function. There are the financial and investment-focused team members who are dedicated to ensuring that the retirement fund performs as well as possible. And there are the customer-service staff who work with current and retired teacher members day-in and day-out helping them to navigate and manage their retirement funds.

While the ATRF’s vision involved creating a space that is conducive to collaboration and team interactions, it was also important to accommodate for the necessary security and privacy requirements that are inherent when discussions over members’ financial situations are paramount.

As part of our discovery phase with ATRF we sought to understand what mattered to them as a business and as a team.  These conversations inspired us to design an environment that helped to connect the two teams working at ATRF and to connect teachers to the staff at ATRF. This solution of “interconnectivity” was inherent throughout the workplace, helping to strengthen relationships within the organization and with the teachers they served.”



Understanding the ATRF’s vision and priorities through an inclusive design process

Creating an environment to support employees in excelling at their jobs was top of mind during this project. There was a true balancing act at play as our Workplace Team incorporated meeting and collaboration spaces that would facilitate relationship-building and cohesion while also addressing the needs of those employees and visitors who may need privacy or the ability to carry out heads-down, uninterrupted work at times.

The discovery process also shone a light on the importance of equality and fairness to the ATRF. Not only amongst the staff, but also with their teacher members and the general public. While it was instrumental to have a space that was inviting and warm, functionality and practicality were also key requirements.



Interwovenness and connection, front and centre

The architecture of the space creates an echo of elements relating to one another and merging together. The design gestures built on this concept of ‘interconnectedness’ through flooring and carpet elements, ceiling planes, light fixtures, and dimensional feature walls, elevating a sense of partnership and connection through the space.

The colour palette used throughout is an homage to Alberta with earth tones that invoke light, openness, and inclusivity – intended to make the staff, teachers, and the general public feel at home and feel comfortable and at ease within the space.

In the interest of fostering connection and camaraderie among the two employee groups, we sought opportunities to bring them together thoughtfully. An inviting staff lunchroom space was one such area, and we set the tone for making it a go-to assembly place by incorporating huge galleries conducive to gatherings, fireplaces, and quiet areas.

The client-facing area provides easy access to the staff, while also providing space for privacy as needed.



A more cohesive and collaborative working environment

The new ATRF space provides a unified environment for its staff through thoughtful design that balances open areas for collaboration with workspaces that support privacy aligned with work tasks.

In meeting the needs of these two diverse employee groups, there has been an increased sense of connection and unity, which enables them to better serve their teacher stakeholders.

We’d love to get to know you

Get in touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By clicking the above button you agree to our Terms of Service and have read and understood our Privacy Policy.