In a two-part session at CRE.Converge 2018, experts shared the requirements they’re seeing from users in the industrial and office spaces, and how buildings can stay flexible as tenant needs and market demands change.
Gensler’s Global Design Synergy Leader and Regional Managing Principal Jordan Goldstein, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, set the scene by sharing the statistic that 31 billion devices and 4.8 billion people will be connected to the internet by 2020. This tech-activated culture has and will continue to drive the design of not only office buildings and workspaces, but eventually the infrastructure of entire smart cities.
In New York, New York, the DELOS headquarters uses sensors throughout the property that provide real-time data on wellness, including daylight, air comfort, decibel level and even the number of flights of stairs employees have walked. Specialized lighting systems are designed to increase alertness, enhance occupant experience and promote sleep.
Where once a company could integrate one or two of these components as standalone features, now Goldstein said they’re starting to see more connectivity and collaboration between these tools. So if you ask an AI voice assistant to increase the air conditioning in your workspace, that AI could communicate with building sensors and HVAC, which could then feed that data into a building control dashboard. And the next time your smart wearable device, like a watch, triggers a notification that you’re on the elevator on the way to your workspace, the temperature is automatically adjusted to your personal optimal temperature.
As voice AI continues to spread (16 percent of Americans own a smart speaker, or around 39 million people), imagine how usage will change the work environment, Goldstein pointed out. How do you interact with a voice AI while in a room full of other coworkers who are also working with AIs? What if having access to voice AI allows you to ditch a computer workstation? And then, Goldstein asked the audience, “What does your work desk look like when you don’t ever need to type at a computer?”
“The rapid integration of emerging tech means the workplace must always be in beta,” said Goldstein. “Our workplaces have to have a flexibility woven into them so they can change with new technologies. Build flexibility into your strategy so your projects can thrive and adapt over time.”
Next, Powers Brown Architecture Principal Nazir Khalfe, AIA, RIBA, RID, shared some of the tenant trends he’s seen inside and outside the box for industrial projects.
Khalfe has seen an increase in the size of average industrial buildings increase rapidly – from 250,000 square feet a few years ago to 500,000 square feet today. According to Amazon, the company now operates more than 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers across North America, most at one million square feet, he said. “It’s truly the era of the big industrial building.”
These industrial projects have varying requirements, but Khalfe shared the ones he sees most often, in both spec and build-to-suit:
- Bay spacing (52’-56’) and racking.
- HVLS circulation/LED lighting.
- Natural light.
- An iconic entryway.
- Trailer storage on-site.
- 32’ Clear height/6-8″ slab thickness.
- Major road or interstate access.
- A faster delivery date.
Even in warehouse buildings, Khalfe is seeing a demand for traditionally office-like amenities, including gyms, game rooms, upscale cafes and walking paths. Employers are looking to provide a work/life balance to attract and retain talent, especially after investing in workers’ often expensive training and specialization.
These trends in office and industrial properties are similar in many ways – an emphasis on connectivity, work/life balance, employee retention and technology – and tie into the greater picture of a future where the lines are blurred between work, socialization, exercising and more, and experience is everything.
Photo courtesy Gensler
Brielle Scott is Senior Communications Manager at NAIOP.