For owners and managers of old office buildings, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep occupancy rates and property values high. In the age of creative Google-style offices and cool co-working spaces like WeWork, outdated buildings retain little appeal, dredging up images of an office life from bygone eras.
Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem and is one that doesn’t just help the commercial property but also its tenants; a win-win situation.
The idea is simple: Revitalize the building’s common areas by turning them into modern, amenities-driven spaces that improve the work experience and answer a variety of functional needs. Places that even the most demanding Millennial will approve.
It’s the kind of “space activation through design” that d+k love doing.
Revamping an Old Commercial Property Through Its Common Areas
Jason Simon from Colliers International and Adam Firsel from Core Acquisitions came to d+k facing such a challenge with the Chatham Centre (1901 N Roselle Road in Schaumburg, IL). Their goal was to create value by increasing the building’s occupancy rate from 70% to 90% or more. The Centre, however, was far from the true Class A office building they were envisioning.
The common areas hadn’t been changed since their construction nearly 30 years ago. The lobby, in particular, felt cold and lacked energy. Jason and Adam wanted something appealing and functional that would bring people together to create a sense of community in the building.
Melissa Lockwood, d+k Director and manager of this project, immediately saw there was a lot of potential to create a more experiential space.
From a Static Lobby To a Dynamic, Multi-Functional Space
Taking a cue from their hospitality design experience, the firm developed a concept that included a variety of different seating options and multi-purpose gathering hubs. “Think of inspiring places that function as fun break rooms, meeting pods, and alternative work stations…all within one lively space that you can truly enjoy.” Melissa explains. “You can go to the common area to read a book, have lunch, and even work or meet with clients and coworkers.” It gives people a chance to rejuvenate and re-focus, breaking the monotony of working at their desks.
For employers, this brings many benefits. It makes for happier employees, which translates into increased productivity and higher talent retention rate. An amenities-driven workplace also makes a company more attractive, giving employers a leg up when it comes to hiring top professionals.
d+k were able to create a design that included pre-existing elements, like the finishes for flooring and walls. The old lobby plants, which were too overwhelming, were eliminated and replaced with others that would feel more organic to the space. Melissa’s favorite part of the project was actually figuring out how to preserve the large planter boxes while having them contribute to the flow of the environment, instead of disrupting it. This was done by adding built-in reading nooks and meeting places within the planters.
The design accomplished its goal. It increased the value of the old office building and helped increase its occupancy rate to the targeted 90%.
Adam says he now understands how common areas with amenities can shift the entire dynamic of an office building…and the economic impact that comes with it. “I learned how to take an existing cold space and activate it through design.”