As mentioned in last week’s post, I spent most of it in Toronto. I was there for an “offsite” meeting for our research area, although admittedly as most of the attendees were local – Toronto is a major research hub for us, hence the choice for it to host this meeting – we could probably have called it an “onsite”.
I won’t go into the specifics of the discussions here, of course, but suffice it to say that there were lots of sticky notes and design thinking tools (we use a methodology called LUMA at Autodesk) being used.
We also had a couple of fun ice-breaker activities. One involved crowdsourced drawings, where we drew a different feature for caricatures of each of our colleagues. Some of them came out really well!
Aside from some fun drawings, we came away with some really valuable data that a smaller group of us will be sifting through to map our bottom-up explorations to the top-down research strategy. I’m looking forward to seeing where things meet in the middle!
On the Tuesday evening – after an intense first day of the offsite – a group of us attended an open house session about The Bentway project, a fascinating re-development of space under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway.
On the Wednesday the snow came.
Luckily, so did the Autodesk-branded hats that we bought for the attendees. (It was touch and go on this, as I’d managed to omit the office’s suite number from the shipping address I’d specified… but after a number of phone and chat discussions with DHL Express, everything worked out. Phew!)
At the end of our second day, we had the chance to tour the Toronto office, learning about its history, from its generative design (as members of our group were involved in the project) to its use as a “living lab” for studying occupant comfort and behaviour.
I love this particular room, as it has the results of the daylight analysis captured during the GD process embodied in colours on the wall and floor. Mapping between paint and carpet colours isn’t easy, either!
After this a group of us met with some former colleagues who had worked on Dasher – something I mentioned in the last post – to catch up and reminisce.
Walking back to the hotel was interesting, to say the least. There had been a large snowfall, and as the lower part of University Avenue was closed off for roadworks, there was even quite a bit of snow on the street itself.
For the four days we worked from the office, Tomas Lay Herrera and I walked from our hotel for the 25 or so minutes it took to walk the length of University Avenue. It was a refreshing walk, but we also stopped a block away from MaRS at the nearby Jimmy’s to fill up on coffee and complete the wake-up process. I took this snap after ordering our last Jimmy’s coffees for this trip.
On the last day of the offsite we had a few hours of wrap-up before we hit the Leaside Curling Club for some team-building.
Very few of us had curled before. Did you know that all curling stones are extracted from the same quarry in Scotland? (Although actually it seems there may now be a secondary source in Wales.)
Much fun was had as we learned the ropes.
While many of the group were surprisingly agile, I was most definitely not one of them. I wasn’t unhappy with a couple of my efforts, although I was definitely lucky no-one was assigning style points.
Sweeping was also very fun and a good way to keep warm.
Here’s a group shot of those who curled.
Some have even talked about doing it again. Jacky was quick to note the amount of space on the club’s Wall of Fame, in case!
It was a really great week. Just getting together was hugely valuable, even before you consider the very actionable results coming out of the workshop.
A huge thanks to those involved in organising and running the event. To Dagmara Szkurlat for managing the overall agenda, to Ellen Hlozan for running the strategic visioning, to Dianne Gault and Sebastian Herrera for organising and running the more tactical part of the visioning exercise. Thanks also to Lorenzo Villaggi and Ray Wang for the fascinating insights into the GD process used for the Toronto office, as well as to Alex Tessier for the history lesson about its Living Lab.
And to all the other attendees for your active participation: Rhys, Jacky, Jamie, Pan, Tomas, Liviu, Warren, Bo, Frederik, Nastaran, Jeremy, Brian and Mike. You all made it worth the effort!