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Optimizing Tenant Improvement Projects

As office vacancies continue to increase, developers are challenged to keep their existing tenants happy and to recruit new ones. If building owners aren’t offering well designed offices with a mix of workspaces and amenities, and/or a tenant improvement (TI) package, potential renters will look elsewhere.

To better understand the trends driving office worker preferences in this unique post-pandemic time, Gensler’s latest Workplace Survey research reveals some interesting insights.

“The data illustrates that employees are looking for offices that are both effective in supporting their ability to focus on their work and offer a more desirable mix of experiences,” stated Janet Pogue McLaurin, Global Director Workplace Research, Principal, Gensler.

This means workplaces should consider strategies such as quiet zones, focus rooms and rest spaces for individual quiet work combined with strategies like innovation hubs, dedicated team rooms and casual gathering areas for creative group work. In addition, a variety of amenities are key. This includes strategies like café-like break rooms, pool tables, fitness equipment and outdoor gardens and pergolas.

To bring office buildings up to par, tenant improvement (TI) renovations are an important strategy. TI projects should be aimed at making a space better suited to meet tenants’ customized business needs.

Case in Point

Take Luxor Workspaces’ recent 24,789 square foot TI project in a northern Chicago suburb, for example. Formerly a warehouse with a small office space, Summit helped transform the office furnishing and equipment manufacturer’s headquarters into a space with a hip industrial-style vibe and a mix of open, collaborative areas, workstations and amenities.

Showcasing a selection of the company’s office and furniture solutions, the design features a custom platform with wooden bleachers, glass-fronted offices, collaborative zones and a coffee nook with comfortable bar seating.

Turning things up a notch, Summit helped Golub & Company create a new Front Room tenant amenity lounge inside its 36-floor tower office building on the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago.

A great tenant recruiting tool, the hospitality-like lounge features a beverage bar, comfy couches, gaming tables and a conference center. Essentially serving as another place for tenants to work, socialize or just take a break. The ceiling design helps distinguish the room’s multiple zones and incorporates a variety of trendy luminaires.

In another recent project, Summit worked directly with the lessee to build out a space for a corporate headquarters and customer experience center.

Building a presence in the U.S., the Australian-based digital merchandising/immersive brand solutions provider Coates sought to create a hospitality-like environment for its visiting customers and a creative, comfortable space for its employees.

The building entrance features a living green wall with Coates’ logo, leading customers into an open area where digital branding technology is on display. An open staircase with a wood screen leads employees to workspaces with exposed timber beams and ceilings, custom millwork, creative whiteboards, conference rooms, open workstations, a full kitchen and even private showers.

Choosing the Right Partner

While owners often fund these projects as a tenant improvement allowance for current and incoming renters, sometimes tenants bear a certain level of responsibility for the cost and execution of the project.

In either case, it’s essential to choose the right partners for optimized results. Your contractor should be experienced and have the resources to fast-track projects, which is often a requirement for TI ventures. The GC should have expertise in office renovations and build outs and be able to tap its network of connections to source the materials, systems and products required. This is particularly important at the present time as all industries struggle with supply chain challenges.

Your GC can also leverage their experience in navigating any regulatory issues to keep the project moving forward. As the project proceeds, the contractor should regularly communicate with the client and project team, particularly if any issues arise with the delivery of materials, coordination and the construction timeline.

Ultimately, the custom renovated office space will be worth the expense and effort as tenants enjoy the employee satisfaction and enhanced productivity of their up-to-date, modern corporate office.

About the author

Barbara Horwitz-Bennett is a seasoned architectural journalist, covering the design and construction industry for the past 20+ years. She writes for numerous industry magazines and creates content for AEC firms and product manufacturers.