When looking for office space, companies remain on the ground


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The skyscraper, the iconic city office tower, still captivates by offering views of the jaws and the excitement hovering in the clouds. But the counterpart of a skyscraper – a building as horizontal as a skyscraper is vertical – attracts attention: Clear the way for an underground ridge.

There is no fixed and quick definition for such buildings, which some loosely describe in a handful of stories as a million or more square feet. These structures embracing the Earth have traditionally been considered less noble than their floating brethren, but in recent years, off-road machines have also become desirable – also known as side and ground machines.

Technology companies in Silicon Valley have long adopted a low-floor approach. But their campuses have also been compared to suburban corporate office parks, which fell into disfavor years ago, and criticized for its contribution to growth in time, when efficient use of resources calls for urbanization.

Some aspects of these buildings – such as the ability to reach offices by stairs rather than elevators – became doubly attractive during a pandemic.

“The interest in garden reflectors reflects our evolving views on how we meet in office spaces,said Sam Chandan, dean of the Schack Institute of Real Estate at the New York University School of Professional Studies.

Take it Old post office in Chicago. The nine-storey limestone monument, built between 1921 and 1932, has three city blocks long and one block wide. If it stood at the end, it would be the equivalent of a 64-story tower. The Art Deco building was the city’s main center for sorting mail until 1997, when it remained empty for two decades.

Real estate company 601W Companies bought a white elephant in 2016 for $ 130 million and spent $ 670 million more on a project called the largest redevelopment in the country. In collaboration with design firm Gensler, the developer has transformed the 2.5 million-square-foot structure into office space, offering the majesty of ceilings up to 19 feet and a restored brass grille.

The large open floor slabs of the building allow tenants to have all employees on one level. This promotes communication across departments and strengthens the corporate culture in a way that is not possible when employees are divided into multiple high-rise floors, said Brian Whiting, president of the Telos Group, a leasing group. Rates range from $ 47 to $ 50 per square foot, and the building was rented at 80 percent when it opened in November, with Uber occupying the entire two floors.

“We are competitive with trophy-class, Class A office space,” Mr. Whiting said, referring to the highest quality office space, usually in a central location.

Another landmark in Chicago, known as Goods Mart, is sometimes called the first ground vacuum cleaner. The building, which opened in 1930, covers two city blocks and covers more than four million square feet.

The Pentagon in Arlington, Va. It is another early example. Built in 1942, the five-sided five-story building covers nearly 29 acres.

But in densely developed urban areas, where land is expensive, it always made sense to build rather than outdoors, especially after the rise of electric elevators.

“An office building of more than a million square feet will traditionally be 40, 60 or 70 floors,” said Phil Ryan, senior manager of the U.S. Research Office at JLL, a real estate services company.

Municipal machinery built in this century took on striking forms. The Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China – designed by Steven Holl’s architects to provide apartments and a hotel in addition to offices – consists of square, interconnected segments on stilts. A slightly curved office building called in Frankfurt am Main Squaire It was built over the railroad tracks at the airport and looks almost like a high-speed train that has just pulled into the station. And Google is planning 11-story pruner in London.

In the United States, the campuses of technology companies such as Facebook and Google can hold large gatherings for collaboration, meetings of all kinds and rec-hall equipment, and interiors often open into landscaped outdoor areas that offer more space to work and hang out. Apple’s Ring-shaped “spaceship” in Cupertino, California, is only four stories high, but more than a mile in circumference and surrounds a 30-acre park.

But these huge campuses are at the center of a debate about suburban growth and affordable housing. They were blamed exacerbation of the housing crisis in California, raising the prices of surrounding houses, causing gentrification and contributing to the increase of homelessness.

Recently, technology companies have focused on urban environments, attracted by the authenticity and liveliness that cities can provide. For example, Google moved to a block of flats in 2006 in Chelsea, New York, where the New York and New Jersey Port Authority was located. Twelve years later, technology giant bought Chelsea market, a former Nabisco factory.

Projects that use old industrial and logistics facilities as office buildings preserve historic structures that are part of the city’s structure, said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic District Council, a conservation group.

“It’s great that new businesses are finding use in existing historic buildings,” he said. “You contribute much less to the waste stream.”

But these projects can have disadvantages. “If there are no regulations on how much of a historic building you reuse, it may end up looking very embarrassing or even degrading the building,” he said.

In New York, the Vornado Realty Trust renovated the James A. Farley Building, a former post office that occupies two double-width blocks. A five-story column landmark in Midtown Manhattan, the Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead & White and was built in 1913. In August, Facebook leased all 730,000 square feet of office space in it – The largest lease signing this year in New York.

However, such adaptive reuse projects do not tend to be in the central business district, but rather on its edge, where old industrial-era buildings can still remain.

South of the Farley Building, two former railroad structures near the Hudson River are being converted into office space. In both cases, several failure stories will be added to the historic buildings.

In Chelsea, the bricks are planned to be transferred to L&L Holding Company and Columbia Property Trust Terminal Warehousewhich was built in 1891 and has a footprint of about 700 times 200 feet. And in Hudson Square, Oxford Properties Group and Canada’s investment plan retirement plan rediscover the three-story St. Louis terminal. John’s Terminal, which was built in 1934 and stretches for more than two blocks. Google has already rented the building.

CookFox Architects is working on both projects, and Richard A. Cook, a founding partner of the New York-based company, said he appreciated the undercuts for connecting them to the street.

“The point is to integrate the workplace into the neighborhood, not the tall and iconic panorama,” he said.

Such buildings can meet the health and wellness issues that were at the forefront of office design before the pandemic. Employees can enter by placing their hooves in front of colleagues on other parts of the huge floor or climbing stairs instead of pressing the elevator button. And large roofs can be adapted for outdoor meetings and recreation.

However, the pandemic showed another advantage.

Because landscaping covers so much territory, they tend to have multiple entrances, unlike a typical skyscraper that gushes all through a single lobby. Experts say that decentralization of arrivals and departures can help with social distancing.

Renovated building Johns will have three main entrances: two for pedestrians and one for cyclists leading to a huge bicycle room.

However, the developers plan to add to St. John’s nine floors, for a total of 12 floors, and the Terminal Warehouse more than doubled to 13 floors. At what height does the building cease to be a half-timbered plot?

“Given the value of the land and the desire to maximize the efficient use of the land and monetize it,” Mr Chandan said, “there is always pressure to build, just a little bit.”


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