After walking through thousands of corporate and medical office spaces, based upon the building’s construction, we certainly believe that the efficiency of architect’s plan is of greater importance than the developer’s goal for a tract of land.
We continue to work with developers, most of which are beginning to see signs of life for their projects, whereby we provide formal studies for any specific submarket, comparable market analysis, tenant expansion or relocation, demographic studies and leading economic indicators. But, to be quite honest, the developer is often in too strong of a position and can influence how, what and who will build on the tract. This is why we feel securing a developer or architect who uses multiple, not individual, armies (w/ proven strategies) to construct a building will provide the best opportunities in this new commercial real estate marketplace.
When planning to construct an office building, it is important to ensure that the architect that is chosen has performed a tremendous amount of office interior space planning work as there are many variables that can affect the amount of space that a prospective tenant will require in a given building.
We have added some special guidance below to assist in the consideration of an office development. An inside out approach to office design and construction; a few items to analyze in greater detail when assembling your team for an office project:
1. Window mullion spacing: Most office buildings that we usually comb maintain a 5′-0″ o.c. mullion spacing. Every now and again we come across a project where the mullion spacing is as little as 4′-0″ o.c. or as large as 6′-0″ o.c. The problem is that, with companies now having fewer tiers of management structures, most of the staff will either be assigned an open office work station of some size (either 6′x6′, 6′x8′ or 8′x8′ in size) or a private office (roughly 10′ w. x 12′-15′ d.). When one has to plan office space in a building with larger mullion spacing, such as 6′-0″ o.c., the company has to provide 20% more window perimeter for each (10′ w.) office thus getting fewer people on the outside window wall.
2. Column size & spacing: Office buildings are typically framed in one of two ways: either steel frame and steel columns (which are relatively small – generally 1 to 2.5 square feet in area) or concrete frame and concrete columns. Poured concrete buildings are great for fireproofing and soundproofing. They also provide for superb impact sound resistance characteristics, but in concrete buildings that have a minimum floor plate size of 25,000 – 30,000 square feet, these columns will generally be12-15 square feet in size, thus effectively blowing out a full work station.
3. Column spacing: It is fair to assume that a building with a larger column spacing makes it easier to plan reliable office space. An example of this is the former World Trade Center Towers in New York City. While their floor plate size was exactly 40,000 square feet (quite large for any office building), the entire floor plate was column free, from the central core to the outer wall.
4. Building shape: Quite simply, if a tenant wants to get a maximum number of employees in the least amount of space, then a building planned on an orthogonal grid, or composed of right angles, is the most efficient one.
5. Floor plate size and shape: It is generally more appealing for a tenant to be in a space that has greater window perimeter and shallow floor depth to get more of their employees to enjoy daylight and view. For example, if a tenant is looking to rent only10,000 square feet, he will generally end up in a better space if he moved into a building having a floor plate size of 20,000 square feet than into a building having a floor plate size of 40,000 square feet.
6. Core factor: What a tenant can actually only use is the net (usable) area of his space. So if he needs 10,000 usable square feet, he will pay less rent overall, if he can get that amount of space in a building only having a 15% core factor than one maintaining a 25% core factor.
7. Another issue that impacts the utility of a given floor plate is the location of the building core (where are the elevators, stairwells and bathrooms located). If it is unique (off-center) or if the fire stairs aren’t placed far enough apart, it will have a serious impact on the size of the tenant that can fit on a given floor. This typically means that only larger sized tenants can fit (fire code regulations) because of the issue of providing two means of egress.
Efficiency in today’s building environment is absolutely essential and we certainly feel our partnership with multiple developers, architects and construction companies will protect your project from wasted space — and money.