Case Study: Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre

About This Project

In downtown Vancouver, on the top two floors of 725 Granville Street, lives the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre (MCEC). With a variety of open and semi-enclosed workspaces, amenity rooms, lounges, and meeting rooms, MCEC accommodates three working groups and up to 750 employees.


Once home to Eaton’s and Sears, the building was reskinned with a new glass curtain on the upper floors. Behind that glass facade, the office interior, designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects, makes use of the natural light and incredible views. Wood features heavily—from paneled walls to slatted ceilings—connecting the spaces to the forests of BC and the Pacific Northwest. To contrast, some areas carry a more industrial look or include colourful upholstery and carpet. Moreover, the contemporary open-plan design features pathways that flow among various work and amenity areas; it’s a flexible space that encourages collaboration and creativity, as well as productivity.


Scope of services

Consulting on architectural acoustics for the office fit-out, BKL joined the project in the design phase, and developed acoustical criteria based on industry best practice and Microsoft’s own design guidelines. For example, the Microsoft Design Guidelines (MDG) didn’t include acoustical criteria for audio rooms, where sound designers create and mix video game sound effects, so BKL identified a comparable spec in the MDG, adapted it for the audio rooms, and provided detailed recommendations to meet the specifications.


As the acoustical designer, BKL reviewed design documents and provided recommendations to

  • meet sound isolation and reverberation specifications for rooms and partitions;
  • strategically locate acoustical panels and other treatments;
  • provide speech privacy where needed by optimizing background noise levels;
  • control noise from HVAC and mechanical systems, including ductwork, VAV boxes, fans, AHUs, heat pumps, etc.; and
  • specify construction details for acoustical partitions.


Once construction was underway, BKL carried out site visits to ensure the acoustical detailing was carried out as designed.


Project benefits

By working with the designers early in the project, BKL united the client’s own design specifications with project requirements to optimize the acoustical environment. As the project progressed, BKL communicated with the design team to consult on changes and highlight areas where the acoustical requirements would deviate from the client’s design guidelines.


Open-plan offices can sometimes create acoustical havoc, especially those with flexible, multi-use spaces. For this project, BKL applied its experience working on other open-plan offices and expertise in architectural acoustics to ensure the MCEC would sound as good as it looks.




Project Name:

Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre

Year Completed:


Capital Cost:

$23.23 million

Total Area:

142,000 square feet

Case Studies, Commercial
Open Office Acoustics, Room Acoustics, Sound Isolation, Speech Privacy