Stepping off the elevator into the foyer of HudBay Minerals’ new 26,000-square-foot head offices in Toronto, visitors are met with actual ingots of raw zinc on the wall, branded with the HudBay stamp. The ceiling panels are made of recycled spun aluminum that artistically mimics the ceilings of the mines, and some of the walls are made of split-face stone, inspired by company photos of vertical cliffs.
The new office is visually stunning, but when HudBay, which discovers, produces and markets base metals in Canada, the U.S. and Central America, chose Toronto-based architects Taylor Smyth to create an office that would extend their brand, there was a real purpose to the redesign. “We wanted to portray the next chapter in HudBay’s development, moving away from the turmoil in the company over the last while, and a space that would define our strategic direction,” says David Garofalo, president and CEO of HudBay.
The past few years have certainly been a period of transition for the company. Before Garofalo joined HudBay in 2010, the company had cycled through three CEOs in less than two years. And in August, HudBay Minerals announced that it had sold its Guatemala-based Fenix Project to a Russian company for $170 million. The ferro-nickel project (run through a subsidiary of HudBay) marred the company’s image in 2009 after the death of a school teacher and various sexual assault accounts were blamed on mine security personnel. There are still ongoing lawsuits in Ontario against the company relating to these charges.
The foyer leading into the offices of Hudbay Minerals Inc. Solid zinc ingots provided by HudBay, mounted flush into wall and custom metal ceiling of recycled aluminum, illuminated from above.
But when it comes to making changes, research supports Garofalo’s belief that a new office can make a real difference to the company’s bottom line. Studies show that office design is key when it comes to increasing employees’ productivity. One such piece of research published in the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management says that “comfortable and ergonomic office design motivates the employees and increases their performance substantially.”
Garofalo says part of the reason the new offices were so important was the need to represent visually some of the changes that were happening within the company. “We’ve been building out the team and we wanted to have space that portrayed some of that dynamic,” he says. “The space is bright, and I think it helps with that transition for the employees as well as the analysts and equity sales people who come through.”
Seating area at reception. Chairs by Ligne Roset, lighting fixture by Ross Lovegrove.
He also says that while the space represents new beginnings, it still pays homage to the company’s 83-year history. The office’s design was inspired by images from the company’s photo library where decades of raw materials, smelting and mining processes have been captured.
So far, the strategy seems to be working. HudBay Minerals recently announced plans to invest about $1 billion into the company’s Constancia copper project in Peru and they hope the mines will yield 85,000 tonnes by 2016. Looking forward, the company is also exploring new investment opportunities South American countries like Colombia and Chile.