Emily Cunningham, RID
Human-Centered Approach to Capital Improvements for 2022
Burnett Plaza Amenity Center
As we stop to acknowledge the evolution commercial real estate has undergone these last two years, perhaps “evolution” is not the proper term. In nature, one tiny evolutionary change will take millions of years, while what we have experienced is massive transformation in a very short time, more like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. This metamorphosis of the modern workplace has propelled forward-thinking building owners to take a fresh, human-centered, look at the way they invest in their properties. When done well, human-centered spaces create tailored experiences for the users that address our basic needs for social connection, well-being, and relationship with nature.
As employee expectations increase, building amenities are no longer a broad-brush or box to be checked anymore. Tenants are looking for amenities that leave a lasting impression, whether it’s a Conference Center with great acoustics and intuitive technology, or a Fitness Center that offers a spa-like experience. New and different amenities we are designing allow employees to work and collaborate in areas in the building outside of their office. In addition, unique wellness, convenience, and entertainment amenities are in growing demand. Employees now have the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere, and they will not choose dull, sterile, corporate feeling environments. For existing buildings to compete with new modern developments, the environments need to tell a story – evoke an emotion.
Burnett Plaza Amenity Center
Many companies are finding the flexibility of a hybrid workstyle is not only a perk for employees but better for the organization as well. With less time together in the office, it becomes key to design an environment that maximizes collaboration time. The Amenity Center that Interprise designed for Burnett Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas offers tenants a multitude of spaces to gather socially, collaborate, or meet more formally.
The rich lounge spaces empower the users with a variety of posture and privacy options. A high-top table with charging stations is perfect for team collaboration; upholstered private booths offer visual and sound privacy for heads down work; and the large island in the open lounge is ideal for social gatherings.
Technology expectations are higher than ever, so to give tenants a seamless conference experience, Interprise teamed with Electro Acoustics to provide the best audio-visual technology and acoustical excellence. As more and more companies are opting not to provide larger conference and collaboration areas in their leased space, an Amenity Center such as this one is a huge selling point for large prospective tenants with a need for town-hall meetings and training spaces.
KPMG Fitness Center
Fitness Centers are by no means a new concept for commercial real estate owners. What’s new is the attention to design and upgraded level of finish out. Just as corporate lounge spaces are taking a cue from hospitality design, commercial fitness centers are finally starting to up their game to compete with the residential market. For years, fitness centers have been located in basements or non-rentable areas, typically with little natural light or exterior views. Landlords could check the box, but for today’s tenants that dingy room with a couple of outdated treadmills is not a draw. In contrast, modern multifamily, mixed-use projects treat their workout facilities like crown jewels, often allocating prime locations with two story spaces or panoramic downtown views. Much of the workforce has access to fitness centers with dynamic design and state of the art equipment in the convenience of their own dwelling complex.
In addition to the exercise spaces, locker rooms are getting the spa treatment with lux finishes and lighting, country club style restrooms, and private shower rooms that feel more luxury hotel than corporate fitness center. Mental and physical health is more important than ever, and this new design approach to fitness areas addresses both. People aren’t just looking to get fit, but to have an experience, and providing a great backdrop and lighting for those gym selfies is an added bonus.
Interprise Outdoor Amenity Study
Relationship with Nature
Another amenity tenants are demanding is multipurpose outdoor space. Tying into health and wellness, employees are seeking properties that offer them space to spread out, areas to work and eat outside, and after-hours team building. Many employees are transitioning from working at home where they have become accustomed to working or having lunch on their patio, or taking walk breaks in their neighborhoods. Properties that offer these multipurpose outdoor spaces are very attractive for prospective tenants. Interprise designed this covered patio space for a building owner looking to take advantage of the lakeside views and walking trails around this office complex. Outdoor patios and recreation areas serve as extensions of tenant lounges and conference centers, so as tenants are meeting and collaborating, they can naturally transition outside. An additional benefit to adding outdoor amenities is the street level appeal that an exterior upgrade can provide.
There has been rapid change in the commercial real estate industry, particularly when it comes to the features and amenities that draw prospective tenants to a building. The way we work and interact in the workplace has transformed in ways that are here to stay; you can’t put the butterfly back in the cocoon. To stand out in this competitive market, building owners are making very deliberate capital improvements, centered around creating memorable human experiences. These expertly designed spaces give the users rich environments in which to connect with each other and the world outside the home office.