Categories Architecture, Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative, Open Offices

Exposed Ceilings Are Cool But Not Cheap

Exposed ceilings are all the rage, but users pay a price for this look. Most of our clients think it’s less expensive to just demo the ceiling and have a cool open space.  Not so fast.
 
Here are some of the additional costs that come with an exposed ceiling:

– Re-running electrical cabling and HVAC ductwork with the added pressure of making it look cool (“cool” is another word for additional expense).
– Painting the now-exposed components.
– Sound proofing/noise mitigation.  If not designed AND negotiated properly, this could be an after-relocation expense to the tenant. 
 
These are costs to actually construct the open ceiling.  Many times the open ceiling will come with increased utility bills because you have more space to heat and, in Phoenix, to cool.  While this is usually negotiated into the Base year, if the building has more tenants moving in and opening up the ceilings, expenses will continue to rise. 
 
This is something to put in the back of your mind as you contemplate your next office.  OR you can just call us.  We live these issues daily.

 

Craig

602.954.3762


HEADS UP: THE 5 HIDDEN EXPENSES OF OPEN CEILINGS
By Clay Edwards

March 4, 2018
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.

Great news! Or was it? It appeared this popular feature that conveys a sense of spaciousness and casual charm also saved money. Unfortunately, the news was premature.

Our years of experience have shown that open plenum ceilings have many benefits, but being cheaper isn’t one of them. It’s important to consider the hidden costs of open ceilings, which almost always make them more expensive, particularly over a building’s life cycle.

Hidden expense #1: Open does not mean unfinished
At first glance, it might seem contradictory to think that an open ceiling would cost more than installing a suspended ceiling system and infrastructure. The catch: there’s work required in both cases. Even when ductwork is exposed, it’s anything but unfinished. Hidden ductwork is typically blocky, dirty, oily and generally not aesthetically pleasing. Round or oval ducts deliver a more “finished” look but are significantly more expensive.

Hidden expense #2: Higher labor costs
As commercial construction has ramped up in recent years, developers are seeing a shortage of skilled labor in many trades, driving up construction costs. Open ceilings may involve lower material costs than suspended ceilings, but any savings is more than offset by the cost of labor-intensive tasks required for open plenum. For instance, this may include running all electrical distribution conduit tight to the deck above with the associated additional bends in the runs, rather than running all of the conduit that crosses paths at different elevations.

Hidden expense #3: Making it pretty
At a minimum, space users want everything painted, from the exposed ceiling to the ductwork and plumbing — a job that’s more complicated than simply painting walls. More significantly, existing infrastructure that’s been hiding behind suspended ceilings is often unsightly, requiring major work to make it attractive to employees or customers. In other words, the casual look of an open plenum is actually the result of substantial work.

Hidden expense #4: Sound considerations
In addition to visual considerations, open plenum plans come with a need for acoustical treatments. The panels in suspended ceilings are called acoustical tiles for a reason: they absorb sound to keep ambient noise levels from being disruptive. The hard surfaces of an exposed ceiling can create an echo effect that gets amplified as people talk louder to be heard over ambient noise.

Avoiding noise problems in open plenum plans comes at a cost. Office and retail users may install acoustical panels directly onto the deck, or suspend baffles to absorb sound in critical areas. Another solution: spray-on acoustical material on the ceiling’s hard, reflective surfaces. These products soften the surfaces to absorb some of the noise, and typically have other benefits such as thermal insulation and fire protection.

Hidden expense #5: Skyrocketing energy bills
Even if open plenum ceilings can be installed cost-effectively, there are operational cost considerations that can change the equation somewhat. A major trend in construction cost estimation is to look at the entire life-cycle cost of different solutions, including the cost of energy consumption and maintenance over time, as well as the initial materials and labor.

The CISCA study mentioned previously noted that energy costs were found to be lower in suspended ceilings than in open plenum ceilings. The savings ranged from 9 percent to 10.3 percent in offices, and from 12.7 percent to 17 percent in retail spaces studied. In addition, CISCA noted that open ceilings required frequent cleaning and periodic repainting. “Considering both first-time and operating costs, suspended ceilings are extremely cost effective,” the study concluded.

Weighing the pros and cons
The additional cost of open plenum ceilings shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Office and retail space should be designed and built to maximize its appeal to employees or customers and to enable productive use of the space; incurring an incrementally higher cost structure is a secondary concern. But users who are getting ready to build out space should be aware of the true cost of different alternatives to avoid surprises during construction. It’s natural to make the assumption that an informal, exposed ceiling is less expensive than a suspended ceiling — but the reality is often quite different.

Categories Architecture, Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative

The Legacy of Steve Jobs and Office Space

Apple moved into their spaceship this year.  I wrote about it while under construction and now you have probably have seen finished photos all over.  If not, here are some.

But today’s narrative is not about this inspired headquarters.  Today, I want to talk about Pixar’s headquarters built in the late 1990’s.  The standards of creative office (and all the baseline design for the new Apple HQ) came out of Job’s vision for one of his early companies. 

This headquarters had:
·       Open space so that the workers could be more creative.
·       All specialties among workers were split up within the premises.
·       A cafe, foosball, fitness center, two 40-seat viewing rooms, and a large theater—keeping them in the office longer.
·       Open atrium so people will run into each other creating interactions.

So what is my point?  Three things struck me when I read the below article:

–Good design lasts—we know that but in office space, it’s the same.  We can build something that we love that does not need to be torn down every 5 years.
–Committing to what you need is critical.  We know how you work today.  What works, what doesn’t.  Where is technology taking you and your team?  
–Having the right team is paramount. This includes brokers—that’s us—plus design, contractors, furniture, etc. Make sure the team is the right on for you and your business.

We can help.

Craig

602.954.3762


Pixar Headquarters and the Legacy of Steve Jobs

Source: Office Snapshots
Date: 8/30/18

The first office ever posted on Office Snapshots was Pixar’s Emeryville headquarters – and is naturally one of the most popular. It is a place where, just by looking at it, one can tell that creativity abounds. After 5+ years of studying, posting pictures of, and writing about office design – it seems like a good idea to take an in depth look into just what makes their office space so special.

A New Campus VisionThe story behind Pixar’s headquarters starts in 1999 with Steve Jobs. As Pixar’s CEO, Jobs brought in Bohlin Cywinski Jackson – famously known for designing Bill Gates’ Washington residential compound – to flesh out his vision for the campus, which was planned to hold up to 1000 employees.

According to Jobs’ recent biography, the headquarters was to be a place that “promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations.”  Given that collaboration has recently been one of the major topics in office design, and that the late 90’s were filled with cubicle farms, his ideas were clearly ahead of the curve.

Jobs also strived for a campus that stood the test of time. Tom Carlisle, Pixar’s facilities director adds that, “He didn’t want a standard office-park building—one with corrugated-metal siding or ribbon windows. The building had to look good 100 years from now. That was his main criterion.”

The Atrium and Unplanned CollaborationsPixar’s campus design originally separated different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But because Jobs was fanatic about these unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place, and his design included a great atrium space that acts as a central hub for the campus.

The biography adds that Jobs believed that, “If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”

The atrium houses a reception, employee mailboxes, cafe, foosball, fitness center, two 40-seat viewing rooms, and a large theater – and was planned by Jobs to house the campus’ only restrooms. The idea was that people who naturally isolate themselves would be forced to have great conversations, even if that took place while washing their hands. Today, they do have more than one restroom, of course. But it was the idea behind it that was important.

Brad Bird, director of The Incredible and Ratatouille, said of the space, “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space…But Steve realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.”

And did it work? “Steve’s theory worked from day one,” said John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer “…I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”

Jobs’ Meticulous Eye for… Steel Beams?

Steve Jobs is well-known for his meticulous eye for elegance and design when it comes to Apple’s products. But another area where this fanaticism for detail came out was with regard to the steel beams used in the construction of the Atrium.

“The architects used cold-rolled, bead-blasted steel, and all connections are custom-bolted, not welded, purely for aesthetics’ sake.”

His biography adds more, “Because the building’s steel beams were going to be visible, Jobs pored over samples from manufacturers across the country to see which had the best color and texture. He chose a mill in Arkansas, told it to blast the steel to a pure color, and made sure the truckers used caution not to nick any of it.”

And some additional investigation found that, “A field painter cleaned it again and applied a “clear coat” of paint to it. All of the bolts that were visible had round heads in lieu of hex heads to give the illusion riveted connections. Rivets have not been used since the 1950′s.

At one point in time Pixar asked that the round head of the bolt have the Pixar “ant” stamped into the head. They abandoned this idea due to cost.”

A Clean Interior Slate to Allow Organic Creativity

Moving beyond the atrium itself, the entire building plan was meant to provide a clean slate that gave Pixar the ability to creatively fill the space as it saw fit – in a very organic way.

One fun way in which this organic creativity manifested itself was in the creation of a hidden speakeasy known as the Lucky 7 Lounge – which has been visited by many special visitors like Randy Newman, Michael Eisner, Michael Cera, and even Steve Jobs himself. Though the lounge was not in the original plan, allowing for fun and spontaneous elements was.

Office Spaces That Live and Breathe

Having tried a much more open, cubicle-based plan at their previous headquarters and noting the difficulty in getting work done, Pixar opted to go with a much more closed environment this time around. Many offices are arranged in U-shaped units of 5-6 individual offices – with a central gathering area in the middle that brings the idea of the creating unplanned collaboration down to a smaller, workspace-sized concept.

In terms of decoration and style, employee office spaces are a sight to be seen. Some work in small house huts, other share space, some stand up. John Lasseter’s office (image right, click to zoom) is filled to the brim with toys – clearly not your average executive office.

Brad Bird notes, “If you walk around downstairs in the animation area, you’ll see that it is unhinged. People are allowed to create whatever front to their office they want. One guy might build a front that’s like a Western town. Someone else might do something that looks like Hawaii…John [Lasseter – Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer] believes that if you have a loose, free kind of atmosphere, it helps creativity.”

Many employees, especially animators, are given setups with 2-3 very large monitors, some 3d enabled with Pixar specific animation software that was developed in-house.

Steve Jobs’ office was described as being the cleanest office at Pixar – which from the looks of it houses a very minimally spaced set of Eames Plywood chairs, a Noguchi Table, a Razor scooter, and not much else.

Elsewhere in the campus lie office chairs that originally were owned by Walt Disney Studios from the 30’s. Though the original plan called for a very mid-century modern aesthetic, utilizing classic design as well as rugs that were handwoven by Tibetans in Nepal.

The campus itself also houses modeling workshops, storyboard rooms, a massive render farm, and of course orchestra and sound recording facilities.

An Epic Campus Landscaping Plan

Though most companies do not have the ability to develop a major campus landscaping plan, Pixar wished to use their 20-acre campus as a special, unified place carved out of the surrounding urban context. “The landscape, designed by Peter Walker Partners, is agrarian than manicured in character, with many seemingly undiscovered places to walk, sit and talk, or eat lunch.”

The exterior campus includes a 600-seat outdoor amphitheater, a soccer field, and an organic vegetable garden used by Pixar’s chefs, flower cutting gardens and a wildflower meadow. And for both fun and fitness, they also have an olympic-sized swimming pool, volleyball court, jogging trail, and basketball court.

As Jobs put it – these amenities were meant “to keep his young animation staff happy – and animated.”

In order to create the desired agrarian atmosphere, the exterior is filled with both native and exotic plants and trees – including European beech, live oak, palms, redwoods, Japanese maple, and cottonwood trees. The visitor entrance also boasts a series of beautiful rose gardens.

To Fence or Not to Fence?

An interesting point of contention in the development of the campus came, oddly enough, over Pixar’s desire to fence in the property during the second phase of the campus. Why fence in the property?

The company’s Director of Facilities explained, “We are a movie studio, and this is what movie studios do, now that we are a more successful company, people want to get into Pixar. We get fans and tourists; we call them ‘looky-loos. But we also get people who want to steal our intellectual property, our ideas, It’s no laughing matter that the world is a much different place than in 1998.”

Emeryville’s city council initially denied the expansion plans over the fence, but it seems after pressure from Pixar – and a threat or two to leave Emeryville – the plan (fence included) was approved.

Connecting with the Workplace

Creating a work environment that people enjoy working in can be one of the most challenging aspects of modern office design. And surely one of the most memorable features of Pixar’s are the many characters, both big and small, that find their way around the campus. Outside you’ll find a huge version of Luxo Jr., while the cast of The Incredibles and Monsters Inc. can be found within the atrium.

Why do they do this? Sure it adds some brand value to a campus that otherwise might seem plain, but for a company like Pixar who slaves for many years bringing their films to life, I think it represents a connection to and love of their work.
There can be no greater feeling that walking around the workplace and being reminded of the great work you helped to produce – as well as seeing the smiles of the many visitors as they recollect the ways each movie touched their lives.

Coming Back to Reality

If you’ve been reading and thinking about how much your work environment need improvement in order to match up with Pixar, you aren’t alone. The company currently employs around 1200 people – has since built several more phases which have added room for more employees in additional buildings which include a rooftop garden, central hearth, as well as bringing much of the campus to LEED Silver certification.

Much of the latest work has been completed by Huntsman Architectural Group, and Gensler.

Now while the campus has expanded significantly past its original bounds, the plan designed around creating an atmosphere where creativity thrives is still very much intact.

But while we can sit around and mope about how our offices are stiflingly terrible, we should actually be considering what things we can learn from this design and how we can implement them into our own workplaces.

Here are a few things to help create that ‘Pixar feeling’ in your office:
1.    Be intentional about designing for collisions and unplanned collaboration – rather than using managerial force.
2.    Use the office space to remind employees why they work for the company.
3.    Make the office fun and a place employees want to work, rather than have to work.
4.    Allow employees to express themselves through their workspaces.

Additional Photography

While my original post on Pixar included some shots, I have since come across a number of additional campus views that I hope you will enjoy. Much of the following photography – specifically the beautiful architectural photography – was completed by Sharon Risedorph Photography. The photo of Luxo JR was taken by Jason Pratt.

Categories Architecture, Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative, Tech Industry

How Tech Office Space Sets the Bar for Everyone Else

What would you do if you had an unlimited budget to improve your company’s next office renovation?  Below is a great article detailing what some tech giants are doing to their interior design to keep their employees happy, productive and in the office. 
 
One simple takeaway is that these companies are doing THE most innovative and comprehensive buildout you can possibly build.  AND they are applying everything in the real world.  We find that our clients, regardless of industry, are watching and observing all these changes and then incorporating as many of their favorite features as they can afford into their own space.
 
Contact me if you would like to see some examples in Phoenix or across the US.

Andrew
602.954.3769
acheney@leearizona.com


 

Technology firms and the office of the future
Their eccentric buildings offer clues about how people will work


April 29th 2017
 

FROM the 62nd floor of Salesforce Tower, 920 feet above the ground, San Francisco’s monuments look piddling. The Bay Bridge, Coit Tower and Palace of Fine Arts are dwarfed by the steel-and-glass headquarters that will house the software company when it is completed later this year. Subtle it is not. Salesforce plans to put on a light show every night; its new building will be visible from up to 30 miles away.

It is not the only technology company erecting a shrine to itself. Apple’s employees have just begun moving into their new headquarters in Cupertino, some 70 kilometres away, which was conceived by the firm’s late founder, Steve Jobs. The four-story, circular building looks like the dial of an iPod (or a doughnut) and is the same size as the Pentagon. At a price tag of around $5bn, it will be the most expensive corporate headquarters ever constructed. Apple applied all its product perfectionism to it: the guidelines for the wood used inside it reportedly ran to 30 pages.

Throughout San Francisco and Silicon Valley, cash-rich technology firms have built or are erecting bold, futuristic headquarters that convey their brands to employees and customers. Another example is Uber, a ride-hailing company, which is hoping to recast its reputation for secrecy and rugged competitiveness by designing an entirely see-through head office. It is expected to have some interior areas, as well as a park, that will be open to the public.

The exteriors of the new buildings will attract most attention, but it is their interiors that should be watched more closely. The very newest buildings, such as Apple’s, are mostly still under wraps, but they are expected to be highly innovative in their internal layout. Some of that is because of fierce competition within the tech industry for the best engineering and other talent: firms are particularly keen to come up with attractive, productive environments. But these new office spaces will also signal how work is likely to evolve. Technology companies have already changed the way people behave in offices beyond their own industry, as a result of e-mail, online search and collaboration tools such as Slack. They are doing the same for physical spaces.

The big idea championed by the industry is the concept of working in various spaces around an office rather than at a fixed workstation. Other industries have experimented with “activity-based working”, but tech is ahead. Employees may still have an assigned desk but they are not expected to be there, and they routinely go to different places to do various tasks. There are “libraries” where they can work quietly, as well as coffee shops, cafés and outdoor spaces for meetings and phone calls. The top two floors of Salesforce Tower, for example, will be used not as corner offices for executives but as an airy lounge for employees, where they can work communally and gaze out at the views over a latté.

A fluid working environment is meant to allow for more chance encounters, which could spur new ideas and spark unexpected collaborations. Facebook’s central building is the world’s largest open-plan office, designed to encourage employees to bump into one another in its common spaces and in a nine-acre rooftop garden. Communal areas are meant to be casual and alluring. John Schoettler, head of real estate at Amazon, says he aims to make them into “living-room-like spaces”. For offices to feel like home, it helps to hire a designer with expertise in residential real-estate, says Elizabeth Pinkham of Salesforce. In common areas at the firm’s offices, there are TVs, couches and bookshelves. Framed photos of a few employees add to the effect.

The new “working at home”

For those who scoff at the creative benefits of being surrounded by pictures of Colin from accounts, there are more tangible payoffs. The lack of fixed workstations shrinks the amount of expensive real estate given to employees without leaving them feeling too squeezed. Tech firms devote around 14 square metres to each employee, around a quarter less than other industries, according to Randy Howder at Gensler, a design firm. Young workers are thought to be more productive in these varied environments, which are reminiscent of the way people study and live at university. One drawback, however, is that finding colleagues can be difficult. Employees need to locate each other through text messages and messaging apps.

Collaborative spaces can also expose generational tensions, says Louise Mozingo, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Tech firms’ elderly employees (otherwise known as the over-40s) can struggle to adjust to moving around during the day and to the frequent disruptions that come from large, open-plan offices. Many of Facebook’s employees do not like their office because it is noisy, and some Apple employees are hesitant to move into their new building for the same reason. Plenty also balk at the massive distances they will need to walk.

That may not be the only thing to cause employees concern. Tech firms are increasingly keen to use their own products in their headquarters. Jensen Huang, the chief executive of Nvidia, a chipmaking firm whose graphics processing units are widely used in artificial-intelligence programmes, says his firm plans to introduce facial recognition for entry into its new headquarters, due to open later this year.

Nvidia will also install cameras to recognise what food people are taking from the cafeteria and charge them accordingly, eliminating the need for a queue and cashier. A self-driving shuttle will eventually zip between its various buildings. And Nvidia’s own AI will monitor when employees arrive and leave, with the ostensible aim of adjusting the building’s heating and cooling systems.

The data that firms can collect on their employees’ whereabouts and activities are bound to become ever more detailed. Another way of keeping tabs on people is through company-issued mobile phones. “Every employee has their own tracking device,” observes Mr Howder at Gensler. “Technology firms will sooner or later take advantage of that.”

Few of them are willing to share details of their future plans because of concerns about employees’ privacy. However, some of their contractors signal what sort of innovations may be in the pipeline. Office-furniture makers, for example, are experimenting with putting sensors in desks and chairs, so that firms will be better able to monitor when workers are there.

Such data could be anonymised to allay privacy concerns. They could also save electricity or help people find an empty room to hold a meeting. But it is not hard to imagine how such data could create a culture of surveillance, where employees feel constantly monitored. “Technology firms could be an indicator of what will happen with privacy in offices more generally,” says David Benjamin of Autodesk, a company that sells software to architects, among other clients.

Silent discos and Bedouin tents

A less controversial trend is for unusual office interiors. These can distinguish companies in the minds of their employees, act as a recruiting tool and also give staff a reason to come into the office rather than work from home. For companies that do not ship a physical product, such offices can serve as important daily reminders of culture and purpose.

Last year LinkedIn, a professional social network, for example, opened a new building in San Francisco that is full of space set aside for networking, and that includes a “silent disco”, where people can dance to music with headphones on. Instead of offering generic meeting rooms with portentous names, Airbnb, a tech firm that lets people rent out their homes, has designed each of its meeting spaces after one of its rental listings, such as a Bedouin tent from Morocco. It also has a meeting room (pictured above) that is an exact replica of the rental apartment where the founders lived when they came up with the idea for Airbnb. Every detail, including the statue of Jesus in red velvet on top of the fireplace, is accurate, says Joe Gebbia, one of the company’s founders.

Nvidia is obsessed with triangles, the basic element of computer graphics used to create lifelike scenes in video games and movies. Its new headquarters, which cost $370m, is shaped like one (see picture), and its interior is full of them. Everything, from the skylights to the benches in the lobby, is triangular. “At this point I’m kind of over the triangle shape, because we took that theme and beat it to death,” admits John O’Brien, the company’s head of real estate, who pointedly vetoed a colleague’s recent suggestion to offer triangle-shaped water bottles in the cafeteria.

Such workspaces remind staff that they are choosing not just an employer but a way of life. In the tech bubble of the late 1990s companies disrupted the workplace by offering foosball tables, nap pods, blow-up castles and free lunches. Now the emphasis is on amenities that help employees save time. Larger firms, including Facebook, Alphabet and LinkedIn, offer their staff something akin to the services used by the extremely wealthy, helping employees to find places to live, adopt pets and the like. Some large tech groups offer on-site health care.

The effect of all this is that the typical office at a technology firm is becoming a prosperous, self-contained village. Employees have fewer reasons than ever to leave. With the spare cash they can throw at their employees, tech giants have vastly raised the bar for other kinds of company, which also want to recruit clever engineers and techies for their projects.

Other industries would be wise to take time to watch how tech firms are structuring their work environments. There is certainly a chance of a backlash against those that use their products to watch employees too closely. Workers may like free lunches and other perks associated with the tech business, but probably not enough to surrender their privacy entirely.

 

Categories Architecture, Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative, Open Offices

World’s Coolest Offices 2017

Every year, we share the most innovative offices from around the world (and a few from our own clients).  Below is our list from 2017. 

First, you get a few of the best clients we were fortunate enough to work with this past year. We can hold our own here in the Valley of the Sun.  Below our clients are the international companies from Inc. Magazine. It’s amazing to see the creativity that goes into building out all of these spaces.  
 
Pick your favorite. I love Kudelski (our client—but I’ve been in the space), and the Airbnb space in Dublin.  Scroll down, it’s worth your time. 
 
Enjoy,

Craig

PS — In addition to the coolest offices of 2017, we had a client (Oaktree Capital and Cypress Properties) turn loose 4 architects to build out 4 spaces without direction or budget.  We called it Project Future (check out this background video). These 4 spaces turned out fabulous and the 600 people who toured them on opening night loved the show. Click here to see the spaces and the party.


MindBody

 image032

SkySong 4

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Greater Phoenix Economic Council

image034

Booker Software

image035

Kudelski Security

image036

And of course, our home, Lee & Associates

image037


15 OFFICES THAT WILL MAKE YOU INSANELY JEALOUS

By JEREMY BITTERMANN
Inc._logo
December 29th, 2017

 

Crazy indoor plant life. Castles and opium factories converted into headquarters. Inc. has been keeping tabs on the very coolest offices throughout the year. Here are the best of the best. 

1.    One with nature

If you can’t work outdoors, bring the outdoors inside. Swedish gaming company King used real lichen and trees built out of plywood to create a hideaway that feels like a Scandinavian forest. 

IMAGE: KING; DESIGN: ADOLFSSON & PARTNERS; PHOTOGRAPHY: JOACHIM BELAIEFF

2. Nod to yesteryear

Airy and filled with natural light, WeWork’s flagship China office is built into what used to be an opium factory. The space uses the building’s original staircase and steel beams, painted green for a more natural feel. 

IMAGE: DESIGN: WEWORK & LINEHOUSE; PHOTO: WEWORK

3. Color by number

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV designed a wing of its headquarters to resemble a doll house. The rooms are color-coded by purpose, from the red TV lounge to the dark blue meeting room.

IMAGE: PHOTOGRAPHY: OSSIP VAN DUIVENBODE

4. Through the years

The offices of genealogy company Ancestry pay tribute to the firm’s employees–and their roots. Portraits of long-tenured workers are hung next to photos of family members from generations ago.

IMAGE: DESIGN: RAPT STUDIO; PHOTO: JEREMY BITTERMANN

5. Over the rainbow

Media agency Canvas outfitted its office with dichroic glass, which reflects light at different angles. The glass changes color depending on the time of day and the angle at which you view it. 


IMAGE: CANVAS WORLDWIDE; DESIGN: A+I; PHOTO: MICHAEL WELLS

6. Get nutty

Vice’s Toronto office has a bar designed to feel like a throwback saloon. Made of walnut, it’s stocked with coffee and tea, plus bourbon and whiskey for after hours.


IMAGE: ADRIEN WILLIAMS

7. A colorful history

British startup Money.co.uk converted a Victorian castle into its new home. The new digs combine old-fashioned decor with kitschy elements and pops of color for a truly unique feel. 


IMAGE: DESIGN: INTERACTION; PHOTO: CHRIS TERRY

8. Stepping up

Airbnb’s Dublin office is the first one the company has designed from scratch. It’s broken into 29 distinct “neighborhoods,” and the staircase at the center serves as a lounge and meeting area.


IMAGE: DESIGN: HENEGHAN PENG ARCHITECTS; PHOTO: DONAL MURPHY

9. Recharge

PwC’s new Switzerland office gives employees the chance to catch up on rest in the nap room. The natural color palette gives the space a calming, outdoorsy feel.


IMAGE: DESIGN: EVOLUTION DESIGN; PHOTO: PETER WUERMLI

10. Keep it green

Instead of dividers or walls, co-working space Second Home separates its cubicles with greenery. The Lisbon, Portugal-based office is home to more than 1,000 plants, which also helps improve the office’s air quality.


IMAGE: DESIGN: SELGASCANO; PHOTO: IWAN BAAN

11. Grayscale

Squarespace went with a sleek, minimalist scheme for its 98,000 sq. ft. New York office. It’s almost entirely black, white, and gray, with the only splashes of color coming from the plant life. 


IMAGE: DESIGN: A+I; PHOTO: SQUARESPACE

12. The ring

Apple’s new spaceship-like headquarters give life to a vision initially laid out by Steve Jobs. The campus is home to 12,000 employees and 9,000 trees, and it relies entirely on renewable energy.


IMAGE: COURTESY APPLE

13. It’s alive

That’s not a painting: LinkedIn’s 26-story San Francisco headquarters feature a living wall next to the 17th story juice bar. It’s made of various types of moss and has both depth and texture.

IMAGE: DESIGN: IA INTERIOR ARCHITECTS; PHOTOGRAPHY: ERIC LAIGNEL

14. Dual purpose

Boston-based Pillpack outfitted its lounge with a refurbished Prohibition-era bar. It serves espresso during the day and turns into a DJ booth during nighttime events.


IMAGE: DESIGN: HALEY MCLANE, PHOTOGRAPHY: JARED KUZIA

15. Looking forward

Google broke ground on its new London headquarters in late 2017. The 1,066-foot “landscraper” will contain offices, swimming pools, and basketball courts, and will be almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall.


IMAGE: COURTESY GOOGLE

 

 

Categories Design, Narrative, Tech Industry

Finally! A Possible Solution to Thermostat Wars

Finally. Maybe? No shot!!  Those were my immediate thoughts when I read the below article.  The war over office temperatures has been fought for decades. The ability to heat and cool their space for themselves, is one of the biggest issues our tenants have. In Arizona, this is compounded by the heat and sunlight beating on the windows during the summer.  

New technology in HVAC data collection and implementation is bringing hope to tenants.  Here are a few highlights:

1.     Agnelli Foundation Headquarters –This building is being equipped with thousands of sensors to track temperature, light, density, etc. in order to provide a climate bubble for each employee.  As the price of sensors drops precipitously, this will change how energy management systems can analyze data.

2.     Comfy – An app designed to give employees the ability to instantly cool or heat their environment.

3.     The Edge – The most high-tech office building in the world provides its tenant with an app that connects them to the building’s lighting and heating systems.  As each individual uses the app, the system becomes smarter, optimizing the environment.

There is no end all be all solution…..Yet.  But there is hope.  Email me if you want us to give you hope in your office space negotiations.

Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com


At Last, a Possible Solution to Office Thermostat Wars
New technologies are giving individual office workers more control over the climate around them

By Rachel Emma
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March 3rd, 2017

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Wars over office temperature may be coming to a thaw.

Thanks to advances in workplace architecture and new sensor and app technologies, individual workers are getting more control over the climate around them, which has long been a battleground for office workers.

Some of the new technologies seem straight out of science fiction. One building under renovation in Italy is going to provide workers with their own “thermal bubbles” that can follow them around the building, so workers will each have their own climate-controlled zone. Elsewhere, smartphone apps such as Comfy let workers order a 10-minute blast of hot or cold air. Users click on either “cool my space” or “warm my space” functions on the app, which connects to a building’s ventilation system, says Erica Eaton, Comfy’s director of strategy.
 
The headquarters for the Agnelli Foundation in Turin, Italy, is being equipped with thousands of sensors that measure things like temperature, light levels and occupancy levels, and can make adjustments to temperature and lighting throughout the building in real time, says Carlo Ratti, who heads the eponymous architecture firm that designed the renovation of the more than 100-year-old building. Employees can set their preferred workplace temperatures on an app. Then, heating and cooling units located in the ceilings can be activated by their phones, allowing a “thermal bubble” to follow them around the building. When an occupant leaves a particular space, it will return to an energy-saving “standby mode,” like a computer, says Mr. Ratti, also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 
If two employees in proximity have conflicting preferences, the system will average them out, “without any thermostat wars,” he says. “Our aim is to shift the focus from heating or cooling spaces, to heating or cooling people and the space they are occupying.”
 
At the Edge, the Amsterdam office of professional-services firm Deloitte that opened in December 2014, workers can provide their heating, cooling and lighting preferences and make subtle adjustments to temperature via their smartphones, after downloading a special building app, says Dave Sie, a strategy and operations executive at Deloitte Real Estate Consulting.
 
The 14-story building’s 28,000 sensors collect anonymized data about workers’ temperature and lighting adjustments, eventually learning aggregated users’ preferences.

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Architecture firm NBBJ, which has designed headquarters for firms such as Amazon.com Inc., is experimenting with new temperature, lighting, movement and sound-tracking sensors it calls Goldilocks, says Ryan Mullenix, an NBBJ design partner in Seattle.

Last year NBBJ placed about 50 of the sensors in its New York office. The sensors generate heat maps that workers can track on their phones, helping them to choose workspaces in the office based on their heating, light and sound preferences, which might change throughout the day, Mr. Mullenix says.
 
NBBJ hopes that the data collected by Goldilocks about its employees’ climate preferences can help the firm design more thoughtful solutions to office climate battles.

“When six people are in one room and they all want six different things regarding climate and light, how do you come to the right consensus? That is the next challenge,” Mr. Mullenix says.

Categories Design, Narrative

Driving Change In Your Office

We spend a large amount of time with our tenants talking about the changing workforce, and how to drive change within the company. Below is a great infographic from Forward Tilt and Allsteel on how to do exactly that — drive change. To drive change, you should know some of the myths that are perpetuated, including:

How much time people spend at their desk. Your people say 80%, but it’s actually 40%. 

Full occupancy and the belief that we need to grow. However, it is estimated that 50% of all office space is underutilized. We spend time making sure built-in growth is real. 

Lots of initiatives — lots of failures. 70% of all change initiatives fail. Designing to the latest initiative is naïve. How you and your team work is way more important. 

Spending time thinking about these issues up front, before you tour, before you renew, before you hire any design group, is paramount. If you’re looking for ways to change your office to better fit your company’s culture, meet your financial goals, and drive change, we can help. Call or email me. 

 

RCC signature                                                                        

602.954.3762

ccoppola@leearizona.com


Click Here to EnlargeWorkplaceChange_Infographic

 

Categories Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative

World’s Coolest Office Spaces 2016

We love office space. It’s our job. And every now and then we find some really cool spaces that we just have to share. Every year, we take a look back on some of the coolest office spaces built over the past 12 months. For 2016, we saw some really cool, some classic, and a few crazy, out-of-a-huge-box office spaces. Click here to see 10 incredible spaces from the Inc. September 12th issue. 
 
My top 3:
1. AKQA—Tokyo, Japan
2. Make—Carlsbad, CA USA
3. Gensler—Oakland, CA USA
 
One cool local office is our new space for Lee & Associates. What do you think?
 

lee office lobby

Lee Office aisle

 
 
Pick your favorites from the Inc article, and if you have any other cool office spaces to share, email me. 
 

Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com

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Categories Design, Narrative

Innovators and Office Space

Each year I read tons of reports, market studies, and research.  One of the best in the business is Gensler’s workplace survey. This year, Gensler takes a deep dive into innovators–how they work, how design drives innovation, and what is happening for the individual worker.

At the end of this email is a link to the entire report (well worth your time, if you are an office space trends geek like me), or you can read a few of the high points from my perspective below:
 

Workplace design needs to prioritize both the individual and group work. Below is a graphic showing there is still a long way to go in this area.  When this happens, a number of good metrics come out (job satisfaction and level of meaning go up).

State of Workplace

 

Not surprisingly, innovators spend more time away from their desk.  Below is a cool graphic that shows this trend. All our clients are asking us how to do this while still getting productivity and creating a team.

Innovators Spend time

 

Innovators see their office space in its entirety. They have better designed workspaces throughout the office. See below where they find opportunity to make workspaces better and more innovative.
 

Better Designed workplaces 2
 
There is lots of disruption in the changing office demographic profile, the nature of work, and of course the design to meet the needs of all this change.  We are a steady hand helping more than 100 companies annually find and lease office space.  Over the past 30+ years, our team has done over 3,500 leases.  We can help you navigate the changing world of office space leasing and design. Email or call me. 
Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com

P.S.- Throughout 2016, we endeavored to bring some humor into your day with our video series. At the same time, we hoped you would get to know us and our services as we took you on a tour of our website. How did we do? Any feedback?  If you missed any of the videos, you can find them all by clicking here. Thank you for your thoughts.  

Click here to read the full Gensler report.
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Categories Creative Office Spaces, Design, Narrative, Open Offices

Boosting Productivity in the Office

Workspace design continues to be a hot topic. Last week, I talked about the huge issues that come with open design that we are now discussing with all of our clients. Below my comments is an infographic on a survey that Cort Furniture compiled on workplace trends. I follow it up with a bonus article on how designers are trying to increase productivity as 81% of clients now use their offices as a workplace recruitment tool and 70% of offices now offer some type of flexible work hours for employees.

Here is a quick summary of all of my comments from the past two weeks:

  • The idea of “productivity” is evolving; collaboration techniques between employees and a more cohesive work environment seem to be the key to modern efficiency.
  • The need for privacy is not lost; it is still an integral part of today’s workplace. The idea is to have an alliance between quality group-work and necessary private time. Designers need to continue to work on this and noise disruptions in all environments.
  • In our health-conscious society, office trends now include variations of desks, conference rooms and meeting areas that accommodate both sitting and standing.

If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to navigate you though all the rapid changes occurring in our world. Give us a call.

Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com


P.S. We were proud to represent Ober & Pekas in their recent relocation to CopperPoint Tower at 3030 N. 3rd Street. 

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For our one minute case studies, please click here.

CRTCOR15056_Workplace_Infographic_R22 (1)

WORKSPACE DESIGN TRENDS TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

YOUR OFFICE NEEDS MORE NOOKS, LESS SITTING. GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES A SPACE THEY LOOK FORWARD TO COMING TO.

Jul 9, 2014
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BY VIVIAN GIANG

PRODUCTIVITY TRENDS
[Image: Flickr user 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia]

Creating paths for chance meetings, including nooks, and designing agile, unique workspaces are solutions that designers say promote collaboration, creativity, and productivity in the modern office.

“In the last four to five years, we’ve all been focusing on sustainability and the impact technology has in an office,” says Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategies at infrastructure solutions provider Lend Lease. “During this time, we’ve forgotten that we’re designing for people. Now there’s a real focus on trying to maximize human potential, performance, and productivity.”

But what is productivity? It’s no longer about sitting at your desk with your head down working all day.

“I think of [productivity] as effectively creating ideas and solving problems and a lot of that has to do with being collaborative,” says Miguel McKelvey, cofounder and chief creative officer of coworking office space WeWork.

To help employees come up with their next great idea, McKelvey and Sargent provide the most current trends in workspace designs:

CREATE PATHS FOR CHANCE MEETINGS
In the past, people used to have to sit at their desks if they needed to answer emails, but today, anyone can do that—or any other work—from anywhere. This means that, from a creative perspective, it’s no longer necessary to make sure people are at their desks at all time.

“It’s more crucial to make sure people are connecting and brainstorming with each other,” says McKelvey, who leads design and architecture at WeWork.

“We’re very specific when we’re drawing work plans. We think about the chances of when a person gets off the elevator where they will go,” he says. “We think about how people get to a coffee machine, when they go and get their lunch, when they go to the bathroom.”

The chance encounters are necessary to increase familiarity and to hopefully create conversations that lead to solutions.

Sargent, former vice president of architecture and design at furniture manufacturer Teknion, says there is a popularity now for designs that help people move.

“There’s a huge movement now to design for human potential … for intellectual and emotional intelligence,” she says. “We see staircases are now designed to be in the center of offices and not in the back as exits.” This is because designers have realized that there are several chance encounters that could happen as people pass one another on stairs, simply going to and from their desks.

INCLUDE NOOKS NEAR COMMON AREAS
The best-case scenario when people run into each other is that brilliant conversations spark, resulting in innovative solutions. This is exactly why you should include nooks—areas where people can go and maintain some privacy—around these common areas and paths.

“When you start a conversation when you’re at the coffee machine, you can quickly sit down after and have a 20-minute meeting,” says McKelvey. “If you have to reserve a conference room to finish that conversation, then you lose time. It’s not efficient.”

McKelvey advises to put these nooks adjacent to social places, such as areas for eating, coffee, or printing.

BUILD CONFERENCE ROOMS DIRECTLY IN COMMON AREAS
Instead of the boring walls that usually put people to sleep, glass walls in the middle of a busy area can help keep the mind awake.

YOU CAN’T CONTROL ALL DISTRACTIONS, BUT YOU CAN GET UP AND MOVE.
“Your mind is being spiked by the activity that’s swirling around,” says McKelvey. The downside is that this could be a problem for people who have issues concentrating.

INCLUDE BOOTHS FOR PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS
With the popularity of open floor plans, “it’s certainly important for people to have a sense of privacy,” says McKelvey. “People need a space that they can go to make a conference or Skype call.”

“It’s important to create those spaces and create a company culture that supports those spaces.” In other words, you don’t want to have a culture where the boss is always asking why someone isn’t at their desk.

People need to feel like they can go to a private area for a phone call or simply to work uninterrupted if they need to.

CREATE AN AGILE WORKSPACE
“We’re designing spaces today where every employee doesn’t have to sit in a specific spot,” says Sargent. “Rather than going to sit in one desk all day, it could be that I’ll start working at a bench, then I’ll go to a more quiet space for head-down concentration, then I’ll go to the social hub because I want to connect with my co-workers. We’ve moved beyond traditional offices to agile design.”

Sargent says agile designs make more sense because it feels more comfortable for employees. If you have a house, you go to the space designed for the task at hand instead of having to sit in one spot all day. This increases your movement, and creates an agile environment where people have choices, more control, and power.

“We still need to conquer how to control distractions. You can’t control all distractions, but you can get up and move.”

HAVE ADJUSTABLE DESKS AND CONFERENCE TABLES
Research shows that sitting too much is harmful to our health and employers should be concerned about the health of their biggest asset: their employees.

The solution to this problem is the adjustable desk, which is said to be a healthier alternative and can help people feel more alert throughout the day.

“Desks need to be in sync with our natural movements,” says Sargent. “If I want to stand, I should be able to stand and if I want to sit, I should be able to sit.”

Sargent says desks today should be able to adjust to any height and conference tables should do the same since research also shows that standing meetings keep groups more engaged and less territorial than sitting meetings.

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Categories Design, Narrative

Nesting in Office Space Design

OK, so I am not sure if this is pure genius or complete BS. Then again, I know nothing about anthropological research. Below is a short article that discusses the cultural norm of approximately seven people being the ideal group size. Your teams should be seven (plus or minus two), and your office space groups should be the same. Why?
–The team can build trust faster.
–No one team member can hide.
–Positive and negative behaviors stand out.
–Optimum size of groups are 6-8, extended families of 24 and tribes of 150 (See, is this genius?? Or BS?)

One other thought below is that your physical environment is one of five fundamental planks of your culture. Picking a great advocate, like our team of 6, to help you get into the right office space, designed for your culture at the right price is paramount to your team’s success. Give me a call to find out how.
 
Like the article below states, “Culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage.”

Craig
602.954.3762
ccoppola@leearizona.com


Why You Should Adopt Google’s Nested Approach To Office Layouts

Forbes

By: George Bradt
June 17, 2014

Google's Nested Approach to Offices
Español: Oficina del Googleplex español. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s all about trust, cultural norms and territoriality. The average family size around the world is seven people, plus or minus two. The optimal team size is seven people, plus or minus two. Google’s new facilities in Switzerland and Ireland are filled not only with wide-open spaces, but with rooms with eight desks in them. Coincidence? Not likely. The anthropological research across cultures indicates that groups of seven people, plus or minus two, create the strongest trust bonds and best reinforce cultural norms.

Woolsey Studios’ Kristine Woolsey took me through her research. She explained that “Google is not very forthcoming about their workplace research,” but you can look at what they are doing – like she did with their new office plans for Switzerland and Ireland. She explained the importance of considering trust bonds, cultural norms and territoriality in designing office spaces:
 
Trust Bonds
Groups of 6-8 people don’t really need a leader or a manager. Group members can operate on equal footings and guide each other. With a group that size, no one can hide. Positive and negative behaviors stand out. As previously discussed in Why You Must Lead Differently As Your Team Grows, teams of this size function like start-ups – or families. These are bonds you’ll want to strengthen by emphasizing environment and values. Physical proximity helps.
 
Cultural Norms
Culture is a group’s collective behavioral, relationships, attitude, values and environmental preferences and norms. These norms are driven by formal and informal reactions to stimuli like “organization charts, programs and amenities and facilities” and “will stick if groups are nested.” Any one person can hide in an organization of 1000 people. Individuals can’t in a group of 6-8. So nest groups of 6-8 in extended families of 24 in tribes of 150. This matters because culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage.
 
Territoriality
We humans are programmed to defend our territory when under threat. This is true for geography, homes – and offices. Woolsey related how Intel sent half their engineers in Arizona “out into the world.” The logic was that they should be spending so much time with clients and customers that they wouldn’t need permanent offices, but rather just flexible stations that they could use when they were in the office.
 
This works when people are comfortable that their jobs are secure. In Intel’s case, offices became a signal of job safety. Those in offices felt most safe. Those in cubicles felt somewhat safe. Those with flexible stations felt uncomfortable and stopped coming into the office at all.

Enjoyable, Collaborative and Fun
iOffice’s Elizabeth Dukes is adamant that work space should be designed to attract and inspire people. As she told me, “Change is going on. Leaders have to embrace that change whether it’s driven by Millennials and technology or the need to optimize the footprint or the need to drive innovation and collaboration…(Organizations) need to define their space to meet their goals.”
 
Dukes does not think there is one right solution for every organization. Like Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, she knows that office layout impacts corporate culture. Her bias tends towards open offices with no or low cube walls and lots of light. But even in her own open workspace she notes that “people group together in groups of about (6-8).”
 
There are conflicting forces at work here. On the one hand, more closed offices enable more private conversations. On the other hand, more open offices encourage collaboration, let in light and save money through more flexible space utilization. A more open, but nested approach may be the right blend for you.

Capitalize on these insights:

1. Pay attention to your team’s physical environment. It’s one of the five fundamental planks of your culture.

2. Be careful of the unintended consequences of completely open plan, flexible offices. You’ll certainly save money. But at what cost in terms of trust, reinforcement of cultural norms and feelings of security?

3. Physically nest teams of 6-8 in extended families of 24 in tribes of 150.

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