O.CON '16 San Jose Case Study

Modernizing a 10-year-old Office Design

The four-building America Center office campus sits on a 30-acre site perched along the picturesque San Francisco Bay at the north end of Silicon Valley. It’s taken years for the project to reach the finish line: Two building were completed before the economy took a turn, and 10 years later, the last two buildings (America 3 and 4) were finally ready to be revisited. Attendees at O.CON: The Office Conference this week in Los Angeles heard from Steven Dunn, senior managing director of SteelWave, about this unique project and the challenges and opportunities that came with it.

The overarching question: How do you change the design of 10-year-old project into an efficient, millennial- and tech-friendly project without changing the footprint? Dunn outlined the specific difficulties faced: a dated façade and lobbies, lack of softscape and connectivity between buildings, unusable exterior space due to wind coming off of the San Francisco Bay, and virtually zero amenities. The group worked to address these issues and adapt the project to meet the needs of today’s office tenant.

“One of our main goals was encouraging employees to stay on campus,” Dunn said. “We took a completely different look [with a focus on] providing services that ensure employees want to be there.”

They started by bringing the outdoors in. More landscaped areas and outdoor seating areas, Wi-Fi in all indoor and outdoor spaces and a pedestrian path through the campus helped activate the exterior space.

Cutting-edge design features and amenities created a sense of vibrancy and place: a roof deck with putting green, 7,500-square-foot fitness center, 6,500-square-foot full service cafe, outdoor pub, food truck court, year-round turf field for sports activities, dedicated shuttle service, bike racks and more.

Car charging stations are also prevalent – 8 percent of cars in the Bay Area market need charging stations, Dunn pointed out.

The property also makes use of “electrochromatic” glass from View Dynamic Glass. Dunn compared its function to polarized sunglasses; the glass tints automatically in response to weather and user preference, so no blinds are needed and HVAC costs go down significantly.

“Everything we did was to add flow and enrich the environment – creating an almost like a resort-like feel,” Dunn said. Indeed, the completed project shows the potential in leveraging cutting-edge construction technologies and amenities – regardless of footprint or initial speculation.

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