Behind The Deal: Penguin Random House's New HQ At 320 Front St W
Penguin Random House Canada has consolidated three Toronto offices into a three-level, 54k SF HQ at 320 Front St W, and it just opened a shop in the building’s lobby. Devencore NKF VP Jon Pezim tells us more.
We toured the new digs and snapped Jon—who brokered the consolidation deal at the H&R REIT-owned 320 Front—and Penguin Random House rep Jessica Cooney. Designed by figure3, the daylight-infused space has two floors of open-plan office seating, with meeting rooms in the centre. There are private phone and brainstorming rooms, too. The office is connected by an internal staircase, encouraging creative collisions. There are three serveries, and a large lunch room can open into the boardroom, providing event space. “We wanted somewhere we could host things, and interact with authors and fans,” Jessica says.
Devencore got the mandate to consolidate Penguin Random House’s three TO locations shortly after its 2013 merger (Random House leased at 1 Toronto St and 366 Adelaide St E; Penguin was at 90 Eglinton Ave E). “We knew we had to knock it out of the park,” Jon says (wish the Jays had that spirit), and 320 Front ticked all his client’s boxes. It offered a contiguous, efficient block of space in a transit-friendly locale, close to Union Station and PATH. And the 16-storey building was a good fit image-wise for the publishing house, Jon says. It’s 300k SF (not a 1M SF financial core tower) and Penguin Random House is one of four tenants (TD anchors).
Here’s Penguin Random House Canada president/CEO Brad Martin at the Penguin Shop, which just opened in 320 Front's lobby. He tells us the 158 SF pop-up-style store is a company test lab. “We don’t sell directly to the public, so it lets us interact with customers and experiment with ideas.” The shop has floating ledges, immersive displays and mobile bookshelves, enabling the publisher to showcase a curated selection of titles and recommendations. “Size doesn’t matter,” says figure3's retail VP Marjorie Mackenzie. “You can do wonderful things in a very small space.”
H&R faced a big void at 320 Front when anchor RBC moved to Waterpark Place, leaving all but two floors vacant. It made the REIT proactive and motivated to land Penguin Random House, Jon tells us. He notes the 1989 building, situated between the Financial District and Downtown West, is in the heart of a node that’s seeing a huge migration of tech and creative tenants following Penguin Random House's lead. Oracle took 100k SF at 277 Front, across the road, and ad agency Bensimon Byrne leased 50k SF in the CBC HQ next door. “A zone many considered no man’s land is becoming a tech and creative hub.”