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The Workplace Makeover: From Office to Destination

Posted July 8, 2019

By Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen

To lure top talent, employers must integrate technology and unique experiences into their spaces.

The future of cities is predicated on people. As engines of economic growth, urban areas are the life source of the built environment, with 80 percent of global GDP resulting from their output. The most vibrant cities are those that attract diverse talent with varied skills, perspectives and backgrounds. All of this is driving change and transformation in how people live, work and play.

Looking at the built environment, there is no place that is being more profoundly impacted than the workplace. To retain and inspire the best talent, the most successful organizations will be the ones that adapt their workplace strategies to focus on creating a destination with visceral experiences, an “always in beta approach” and purpose through space.

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Designing Spaces to Create Great Experiences

Posted on December 12, 2018

By Andy Cohen

A Gensler study quantifies that the right design can result in great experiences, which in turn are great for business.

Today, the goal of every project that forward-thinking architects design is to give people positive experiences. Clients in every sector, including commercial real estate, are struggling to keep up with the dramatidec evolution of how people work, live and shop today – and those who aren’t are sacrificing business performance. To better understand – and to quantify – the link between design and delivery of a great experience, Gensler developed the Gensler Experience Index, a first-of-its-kind mixed-methods research approach to create a holistic Experience Framework for understanding experience and quantifying the effect of design on that experience.

The Gensler Experience Index is the result of a rigorous investigation that combined qualitative ethnographic research with quantitative research to identify the design factors that are most important in creating exceptionally great spaces and places. After several years, five roundtables, 60+ hours of one-on-one ethnographic observations and a survey of more than 4,000 consumers, the Gensler Experience Index  quantifies and brings greater depth to what many in the design industry already knew instinctively – that great design is an important component of great experiences.

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Elevating Workplace Architecture and Design

Posted on June 7, 2018

By Marie Ruff

Office architecture and design have incorporated various popular influences in recent years: smart office tools, the open-ceiling industrial-chic aesthetic, and the “experiential office” trend, to name a few. The field has been slower, however, to adopt findings from positive psychology into office form and function.

Positive psychology, the scientific study of the condition and strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive, provides tools that can be used to enhance worker’s well-being, said architect Charles First, AIA, CCM, CFM. In his recently published book, “A Place to be Happy: Linking Architecture & Positive Psychology,” First drew from his more than 30 years as a registered architect with experience in architecture, project management and owner-side office culture.  The book incorporates results from his own workplace studies, and along with findings from researchers across the U.S., establishes criteria for shaping spaces for the benefit of the people who work there.

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Best Practices in Developing Skilled Nursing Facilities

Posted on April 16, 2018

By: Greg Lazaroff

Photos courtesy of Michael Adkins, PHCM Construction Inc.An Ohio-based developer of these specialized properties describes how it is capitalizing on growing opportunities as well as evolving market trends.

AN AGING POPULATION and medical advances that are extending the average person’s life expectancy are increasing the need for skilled nursing facilities. Developers are responding by gearing up to build more of these projects to meet the expected need. One such company, Premier Health Care Management, a Cincinnati-based nursing home developer and operator, plans to double in size in the next three years by expanding its total number of beds from 700 to 1,200 through building renovation, expansion and ground-up construction.

Premier’s in-house architectural team, PHCM Construction Inc., is currently working on five nursing home development projects with a combined construction value near $100 million. All are geared toward capitalizing on market trends that include residents’ desire for private rooms and more amenities. These trends, along with variables such as site conditions, occupancy codes and availability of financing, are among the primary challenges faced by most senior living development projects.

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Does Your Modern Build-out Have a Hearing Problem?

Posted on April 13, 2018

By: Clay Edwards

Open ceilings, exposed concrete floors and glass-walled spaces are the hallmarks of contemporary interiors. These design choices convey a hip and modern mindset for the companies and retailers that inhabit them, but they can come with a drawback that impacts business: noise.

Without the sound-dampening effects of the acoustical tiles used in drop ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting and other soft surfaces, ambient noises such as conversations, whirring heating and cooling systems, and shifting furniture are amplified. And plans to mitigate this heightened noise can add extra materials, labor costs and time to your build-out.

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The Rise of Smart Buildings As-a-Service

Posted on February 28, 2018

A recent Memoori report, Occupancy Analytics & In-Building Location Based Services 2017 to 2022, finds “value-added services such as space utilization, indoor positioning, connected lighting and asset tracking are helping to drive the adoption of As-a-Service business models.”

Smart Building As-a-Service refers to third-party companies working with building owners to deploy technology to maximize efficiency and use data-driven analytics to understand better how people operate within the building. For example, if building owners and managers subscribed to a sensing-as-a-service firm, the firm would be responsible for not only installing the equipment but also managing, analyzing and reporting the data the sensors collect.

Artful Landscape Design for Stormwater Management

Posted on February 23, 2018

By: Brian L. Reetz, and Emilie C. Carter, PLA, ASLA

Jennifer Hughes PhotographyTHE METROPOLITAN Downtown Columbia, one element in the master plan for Downtown Columbia, Maryland, is the first new mixed-use, multifamily project to be developed in the area, which eventually will incorporate a vibrant, walkable downtown that will complement what was formerly an inward-focused mall. Developed by Kettler, the six-story, 375-unit apartment building features ground-floor retail space that faces a 0.82-acre promenade.

While the primary goal for the landscape architects designing this promenade was to create an appealing open space, they faced several additional requirements and challenges, including the need to integrate a public art component, fulfill county requirements for a playground area and comply with state stormwater regulations. The design for the promenade, which was completed in summer 2015, incorporated an integrated micro-bioretention system, educational and interpretive signage, and abstract play sculptures. The result is an iconic open space lined by shops and restaurants that connects Downtown Columbia, the mall and the surrounding community. The roughly $1 million promenade also offers some valuable lessons for landscape architects and developers.

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The Hidden Costs of Open Ceilings

Posted on February 22, 2018

By: Clay Edwards

Open ceilings, with their exposed ductwork and industrial vibe have become popular – but trendy rarely equals inexpensive. For many years, omitting the traditional drop ceiling was assumed to be not just cooler but also to cost less. Common sense seemed to be that by choosing open ceilings, the cost of the drop ceiling was simply avoided, saving on labor, materials and time.

2008 study of retail and office interior construction in five cities seemed to back up that assumption. Sponsored by the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA), the study found that initial construction costs for suspended ceilings were 15-22 percent higher than for open plenums in offices, and 4-11 percent higher in retail spaces.

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Designers Predict Trends that Will Shape 2018

Posted on January 3, 2018

For the article, “9 Big Trends That Will Shape 2018,” Fast Company interviewed systems thinkers, industrial designers and artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and asked them to name the technology trends and forces they see ahead in the next year. Three of the ideas the designers predicted are:

  • User-Friendly Government: A rise in tools dedicated to informing people of local elections, decision-making processes and regulations.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Design: AI Designers “will lead multidisciplinary teams in the creation and design of the era of artificial intelligence.” Much the way design humanized technology, design will play a critical role in the advancement of AI.
  • Disaggregation of Core Technology: Digital and physical design will become indistinguishable as the core technology found in smartphones (e.g., cameras, microphones and screens) is disaggregated and embedded into different environments (e.g., clothing, homes). No longer will people be staring at their smartphone screens but instead generating and gathering data fluidly in their wider environment.

Denver: Green Roofs Now Required

Posted on November 27, 2017

According to an article in the Denver Post, downtown Denver is about 5 degrees hotter than surrounding areas in the summer due to the heat radiating from concrete rooftops and pavement. Denver ranks third in the country for the severity of the “urban heat island” effect — described as a phenomenon that increases air conditioning use and worsens air quality.

Citing a solution, the Denver Green Roof Initiative placed an initiative on the November 7 ballot, which recently passed, that will require buildings 25,000 square feet and over, constructed after January 1, 2018, to cover at least 20 percent of their roofs with gardens or solar panels. Denver joins San Francisco, New York, London, and Paris in cities around the world with similar requirements.

Realtors, contractors, and builders opposed the initiative, citing a rise in construction and housing costs as their primary concern. The Green Roof Initiative estimates a green roof will cost about $15 more per square foot than a traditional roof but will pay for itself in six years.

Bringing the Outside In

Posted on November 22, 2017

By Roger Heerema

A fresh-air, 28th-floor amenity lounge has transformed a Chicago office tower.

EXPANSIVE CITY views might be the greatest advantage offered by an upper floor of a downtown high-rise. But once you turn your back to the windows, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the center of a bustling city. You could be on any floor of any office building, anywhere.

That’s not the case at 200 West Jackson, a recently redeveloped building in downtown Chicago. On the 28th floor of this office tower, windows open during warm weather months to bring in fresh air and the sounds of the city below. This full sensory experience creates an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for a hospitality lounge, where building tenants socialize, collaborate and recharge.

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Building with Resiliency in Mind

Posted on September 26, 2017

After a hurricane, the cost to rebuild and repair can run into the hundreds of millions. Construction firms are taking action, investing in resilient buildings that can withstand flooding and power outages from future natural disasters.

“It’s entirely a builder or a property owner’s choice of whether they want to do extra work to prevent property damage or have the right insurance or not,” Simon Koster, a mechanical engineer and principal at JDS Development Group, told Science Friday. “Those are the choices that people are starting to make voluntarily.” After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, Koster’s group decided to design a building, American Copper, resilient to hurricanes. The lobby is lined with stone that will not weaken with moisture, and the mechanical equipment, typically found in the basement, is located on the second floor above the flood line. Additionally, a park doubles as a bioswale and helps divert water from the building. Koster predicts building resilient architecture will become the “new normal” for cities and that it is no longer a question of if a storm will strike, but when. 

Inspiring Creativity through Innovative Workspaces

Posted on July 27, 2017

Written by Brielle Scott

Incubators, accelerators, start-up spaces – the lines are often blurred on what these buzzed-about terms mean. In a new report from the Brookings Institute, “Innovation Spaces: The New Design of Work,” authors Julie Wagner and Dan Watch shed some light on these spaces and the trends contributing to their proliferation.

The report outlines three key factors influencing the design of innovative workspaces:

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Beyond 72 Degrees and Sunny Inside: Optimizing the Indoor Work Environment

Posted on July 19, 2017

Written by Dan Diehl

The conversation about indoor environments is changing as tenants leverage new technologies to support employee productivity.

OVER THE LAST decade, a slow and steady evolution has been taking place in the commercial built environment. Building owners, architects, engineers and various service providers are moving to incorporate new technology that optimizes worker productivity, space utilization and the operational efficiency of a building over its useful life. They are also seeking to create workplaces that help companies recruit and retain talent.

Many commercial buildings now include features such as operable windows, dynamic glass, smart metering, prefab construction and chilled beam HVAC systems, all of which aim to optimize the indoor working environment for productivity, health and overall well-being. While a number of these technologies and approaches have been available for quite a while, many are now moving from being the exception to the norm.

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Office Amenity One-upmanship

Posted on July 18, 2017

Written by Michael Suriano

As employees increasingly work from a variety of locations and companies lease co-working spaces – or even do away with offices altogether – real estate developers and owners seek the ever-elusive “edge” that will keep their companies and their buildings competitive. To do so, developers are expanding building amenities to entice top talent and facilitate staff engagement. According to Colliers International, traditionally only 3 percent of commercial real estate was devoted to amenity space; today, the recommendation has more than tripled to 10 percent, or up to 12 percent to attract high-value tenants. The value of increasing amenity spaces can be significant: CBRE has reported that in one instance, amenities like gyms, lounges, and restaurants boosted asking rates by 15 percent.

Amenities have typically ranged from providing daily conveniences (dry cleaning, food courts, etc.) to recreation or health (gyms, saunas, clinics, etc.). To appeal to a younger generation, building owners are in a race of amenity one-upmanship, with popular amenities like table tennis and complimentary food becoming less of a differentiator than health complexes, basketball courts and hair salons.

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Bringing the Outdoors in with Living Walls

Posted on July 12, 2017

Written by Alvaro J. Ribeiro

Living wall systems can be simpler to install and maintain than one might expect — and can have meaningful impacts on building owners and occupants.

THE EMERGENCE of biophilic design and living green walls satisfies the human need to connect with nature, offers positive health benefits and provides welcome visual elements. (See “Plantscaping and the Value of Biophilic Design,” Development, Spring 2017.)

There’s no doubt that indoor plants can improve people’s health and mood. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, “interaction with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress through suppression of autonomic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.” Architects have devised various ways of incorporating indoor plants into the design of corporate, commercial, and even industrial work environments, including living green walls.

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Creating Vibrant Office Building Communities

Posted on July 11, 2017

Design firm Gensler says now is a time of “profound change in how design supports work in all its varied forms,” as the industry sees demand for new real estate products that are “a reflection of new and more collaborative ways of working.”

A forthcoming study by the NAIOP Research Foundation, “Activating Office Building Common Areas,” will look deeper at this trend, specifically examining buildings’ common areas and how some owners are “activating” these common spaces to make their buildings more vibrant.

Through surveys and interviews, the study examines the activities, designs, costs and more associated with creating vibrant communities inside office buildings.

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