Rx for the New Office

As the office development pipeline picks up steam, some recently completed projects exemplify what tenants will be looking for in the next generation of offices.

As the office development pipeline picks up steam, some recently completed projects exemplify what tenants will be looking for in the next generation of offices. In April, Liberty Property Trust formally unveiled the 208,000-square-foot headquarters it developed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for GlaxoSmithKline.

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Associates, GlaxoSmithKline's headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard employs light and open spaces to create an inviting, collaborative environment. Photo by Francis Dzikowski

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, GlaxoSmithKline’s new headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard employs light and open space to create an inviting, collaborative environment. Photo by Francis Dzikowski

The headquarters has any number of distinctive aspects—a signature design by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LEED Platinum rating—all of which contribute to the mix.

To begin with, GlaxoSmithKline’s headquarters reflects the principle that a company can occupy significantly smaller space with no loss of productivity. Before moving to its new location, the pharmaceutical giant was spread out in 800,000 square feet at two locations in Center City, Philadelphia’s central business district.

In an effort to promote the collaborative, creative environment that the pharmaceutical giant demands, the Stern architectural firm designed the building without a single private office. The GlaxoSmithKline headquarters illustrates the trend of providing only about 100 square feet per employee, yet uses multiple tools to create an inviting workplace: invitingly large open spaces, common areas that promote collaboration and abundant natural light. The building has also earned the uncommon Platinum-level LEED certification. “They’ve created an environment where people want to go to work,” explained John Gattuso,  senior vice president & regional director of Liberty’s national and urban development business.

However, he acknowledges that the creation of a signature property is not necessarily for all situations. “It takes a client who takes the time to think about (these issues),” Gattuso noted. “Not everyone is willing to start with a fresh sheet of paper.” Nor are the benefits of today’s new approaches to office space restricted to signature, build-to-suit projects. A well-thought-out tenant improvement program in an existing property can yield many of the same benefits, he added.For details on what tenants are looking for, according to some recent surveys, be sure to read “What Tenants Want” in the September 2013 issue of CPE.