July 22, 2016
McCormick Construction’s president and CEO, Michael McCormick, shared insights into the changing nature of today’s workplaces with Connect Media’s Daniella Soloway. Technology rapidly innovates and continues to shape the world around us, while construction costs rise. Michael answered the industry’s biggest questions regarding development of successful office space.
Q. What are the latest trends driving workplace design and construction?
A. Across the board, creative office space is a major trend, and the biggest driver is technology. Whether it is ground-up construction or adaptive reuse, the end result is the same – the latest buildings are automatically designed to meet the newest technology demands. The amount of power and data that companies require has changed and workplaces now need to accommodate more advanced technology systems like power lines, sophisticated fiber optics and conventionalized speed data lines. In addition, another major trend is building sustainability, especially within the Los Angeles market. Today, prospective tenants desire buildings which are much more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than they were five or ten years ago.
Q. How does adaptive reuse differ from ground-up construction as it relates to creative office?
A. At the end of the day, adaptive reuse projects still have the same requirements as ground-up construction. Adapting an existing building to meet the needs of the end user doesn’t change the way we build offices, it changes the design of the interior. Many older buildings need to be upgraded to accommodate and support new systems; with that comes a new set of challenges. The infrastructure itself may not be up to code; seismic retrofits may need to take place; and the historical significance of a building must be taken into consideration. Additional concerns might include access to transit, traffic and project parking.
One such project that had many of these challenges was the redevelopment of Element LA, a post-WWII era manufacturing facility that was one of our recent projects. Originally built in 1949, it was to be transformed into an innovative creative office campus. Located in West Los Angeles, there were a number of infrastructure and logistical challenges. These included upgrading the vintage structure, renovating the interior from a manufacturing facility to a flexible multi-unit space and minimizing the impact of construction to the surrounding neighborhood. Today, Element LA includes five buildings, occupying roughly 12 acres, totaling more than 300,000 square feet and is LEED Gold certified.
Q. What do today’s tenants expect in terms of amenities, flexibility, and more? What considerations do owners/investors/developers need to take into account in order to create successful developments that reach their financial goals?
Today, tenants are looking for up-to-date creative office spaces that are completely Wi-Fi-accessible so they can plug in ‘whenever, wherever.’ Flexible indoor and outdoor work spaces are key – employees want the ability to go outside and work in the shade, under a tree, or be able to push walls or desks together inside the office to collaborate with others. However, employees want options. This means working in a private space, or choosing a collaborative space, depending on their current tasks and projects. Because of this, acoustics play a major role in creating these new spaces. White noise machines and acoustic panels allow employees to collaborate in an open floor plan, while controlling the noise and minimizing distractions for those who may need to do focused, uninterrupted work nearby. Creating a sustainable and “healthy” work environment is also a ‘must’ in today’s workplace. In fact, many office developments are striving for LEED Certification and are designed to meet WELL Building Standards. Additionally, security is extremely important. An example is the work we did for Neurobrands.
Ensuring a strong return on investment means providing a workspace that is a great place to be, but it needs to be responsive to the market, meaning it must have a broad appeal to a wide range of tenants. Building in flexibility in the layout is a valuable and highly desirable option for tenants, and the landlord. That way, the space works for a variety of companies, making it much more marketable and more profitable.