Homes & Design Photo Credit: Jamie Hyatt

Cool Workspace: McKinley Burkart’s West Coast-Inspired Studio

Calgary architecture firm McKinley Burkart embraces the West Coast in their new Vancouver office space.

When architecture firm McKinley Burkart set up their Vancouver office this past fall, it would have been easy to just copy and paste their downtown Calgary concept. After all, that sleek, urban space had been a perfect workspace for their team for many years.

But truly great design is a reflection of place. So when principals Walker McKinley and Mark Burkart leased a unit in Railtown, they looked to their West Coast locale for inspiration. The result is an abundance of greys, blues and natural finishes, “an abstraction of coast and seaside,” says McKinley, that plays beautifully off the industrial space.

Natural light pours in through the oversized windows at the back of the room, where a long table hosts workstations; nearby, in front of built-in shelves packed with design books, a long, tall table was installed for design charrettes (and conveniently doubles as a bar when the team hosts parties). The palette features grey throughout, from the wood panelling on the walls to the herringbone-patterned floorboards, and custom lights in the front—a collaboration with Vancouver firm AndLight—are inspired by sea glass.

The art skews local, with Vancouver artists like Graham Gillmore and Anthony Redpath represented on the walls, but the showstopper is actually a piece by McKinley and Burkart themselves: a 12-foot-tall kewpie doll. “The sculpture is actually also a nod to the ocean,” explains Burkhart. “It represents the detritus that washes ashore.”

Most of the furniture is from Paramount in Gastown. “In the front area, there’s an almost domestic vibe,” says McKinley. “It feels like a loft rather than an office.”

AndLight did the big bell lights, but Burkhart’s dad did the gold leaf (there’s a similar version in the Calgary office).
Mismatched boardroom chairs from Inform Contract line a long wooden table.

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