Contract - Interior Design Trends: Renew, Reinvent, Revitalize

design - process



Interior Design Trends: Renew, Reinvent, Revitalize

09 September, 2010

-By Lewis Goetz, Group Goetz Architects


The building stock of the 1970s to the 1990s, a 30-year span of enormous development in the United States, has now reached maturity in the life span of its building systems and tenant appeal. Depending in which decade a building was built, building improvement is either now a necessity or important to the future financial viability of the asset. Alas, building repositioning is about transforming and renewing the building asset to achieve a higher value in the marketplace.

During the last decade, there have been enormous improvements in building systems technology, including more efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and system controls. Lighting alone has gone from efficient fluorescent fixtures to even more efficient LED fixtures, changing the paradigm for low to no maintenance in lighting systems. New glazing systems allow glass buildings to be highly energy efficient and provide an abundance of natural light in others. New Class A and trophy buildings are able to capture these new technologies, including important sustainable strategies, making them even more competitive to older buildings in an already difficult real estate market. With pressure on owners of older buildings to retain tenancy, maintain or increase rents, and improve operating efficiencies, reinventing older buildings with well  planned and executed repositioning strategy is more important than ever.

Repositioning can take on many forms, from a simple cosmetic approach to major modernizations and renovations, including new facades, new building systems, added floors, and completely new building cores and lobbies. Multiple factors will play into what strategy makes the most sense and works best for the project, but ultimately the owner’s decision will be made on which smart choices for improvements will provide the maximum return on the investment.

Making those smart choices includes early planning and an understanding of the building’s location, competition, and tenant target market. Planning for a repositioning requires early consultation and collaboration among owners, asset managers, leasing/facility managers, brokers, architects, engineers, and contractors. To maximize the value of your building, the objective is to analyze the market and your competition, identify key demographics, develop concept choices, estimate improvement costs, and plan a quality return on investment. With the right balance of improvements your building can greatly increase its ROI and yield excellent investor results.

From the outset in repositioning a building, it is critical to understand its current condition and constraints. As architects and designers we look at the challenges and opportunities related to and including zoning, code and ADA compliance, building systems condition, roof and exterior wall, energy efficiency, amenities and, of course, curb appeal. Each of these areas offers many opportunities for improvements and positioning the building more competitively in the marketplace, but without curb appeal, no one may even want to look at that building.  

Today’s tenants are smarter than ever. They understand real estate issues and it is important to focus on their needs to create a successful strategy that adds value for the tenant as well as a long term strategy for the owner. Ultimately, the decisions must make economic sense for the developer and investors. Opportunities reveal themselves as one begins to understand the market issues and solve the building challenges.

Zoning
Zoning changes over the years may provide opportunities to increase the floor area ratio of the building, thus adding a valuable asset to a building in the form of rentable space. The decision to add the space has to be weighed with its cost. In some cases, infilling areas of the building such as street arcades or recessed window areas can add valuable footage at a very reasonable cost. While adding floors on top of the building can maximize additional square footage, it may be too costly and logistically difficult. Each opportunity needs to be evaluated. In general adding square footage is an extremely compelling opportunity and most developers will take it.

Improved Building Systems and Controls / Higher Energy Efficiency

With energy costs rising and new buildings providing extreme energy efficiency to be competitive, it is imperative to replace old, worn out building systems with new, updated systems that will provide greater efficiency and lower operation costs. Energy efficient systems for heating and cooling, water-saving plumbing, lighting, electrical systems, and elevators all have an impact on reducing operations costs.

ADA and Code Compliance

Codes change and ADA was not even around 30 years ago so, in most cases, older buildings, at a minimum, need to be made code and ADA compliant. These changes are mandatory in almost all jurisdictions. The biggest areas of code compliance tend to be in fire, life safety, and egress issues along with fresh air requirements for the mechanical system and ADA accessibility at entrances and bathrooms. In many cases these items tie to other opportunities such as improved building systems, general aesthetic appeal, or sustainability in the case of bathrooms. In some cases, the building may be so outdated that entirely new building cores need to be replaced, including stairs, bathrooms, electrical and mechanical spaces, and elevators.

Maximize Space and Layout Efficiency

In the case of replacing the building core or even modifying it, the owner has the opportunity to improve the building’s internal layout and efficiency. In a highly competitive market where efficiency can be the difference between selecting one building over another, even a few percentage points of efficiency can make a huge cost difference to a tenant.

Building Envelope
Without a doubt the biggest impact from a visual perspective is changing the building envelope. Commonplace in repositioning, changing a building’s skin will create an enormous impact, improve energy efficiency, and provide more natural light for the occupants. New roofs, although not glamorous, are almost always replaced because of the overall investment being made and because, in most cases, it’s just time for replacement.  

Sustainability (LEED)
Although not yet required in most areas, sustainable practices are the direction most developers take when repositioning their buildings. It is not only the right thing to do in terms of energy efficiency and resources, but it also attracts clients and adds value to the asset when ready to sell. In addition, most knowledgeable consumers want sustainable buildings because they understand that they are healthier and more energy efficient in design. Most government tenants today require LEED certified buildings.

Street and Lobby Presence – First Impression

Any real estate agent will tell you how important the curb appeal is to leasing or selling a property. That first impression starts at the curb, goes into the lobby, up the elevator, and into the tenant space. If these items are not improved, all else may not matter to the tenant leasing the space. When tenants are paying premium rent they expect a certain level of finish in the building lobby, elevator cabs, exterior landscaping, bathrooms, and elevator lobbies. These are simple areas to improve and important to making a good first impression. The level of finish and cost of these improvements will all depend on the market and rent strategy. Generally, the higher the rent the higher the tenant expectations.  

Building Amenities

Amenities in buildings may not seem very new today, but for older stock buildings amenities did not exist, at least not to the level building owners now provide. New fitness centers, conference centers, concierge services, security, and roof decks are just a few of the items tenants now expect to make a repositioned building more competitive.




Interior Design Trends: Renew, Reinvent, Revitalize

09 September, 2010


The building stock of the 1970s to the 1990s, a 30-year span of enormous development in the United States, has now reached maturity in the life span of its building systems and tenant appeal. Depending in which decade a building was built, building improvement is either now a necessity or important to the future financial viability of the asset. Alas, building repositioning is about transforming and renewing the building asset to achieve a higher value in the marketplace.

During the last decade, there have been enormous improvements in building systems technology, including more efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and system controls. Lighting alone has gone from efficient fluorescent fixtures to even more efficient LED fixtures, changing the paradigm for low to no maintenance in lighting systems. New glazing systems allow glass buildings to be highly energy efficient and provide an abundance of natural light in others. New Class A and trophy buildings are able to capture these new technologies, including important sustainable strategies, making them even more competitive to older buildings in an already difficult real estate market. With pressure on owners of older buildings to retain tenancy, maintain or increase rents, and improve operating efficiencies, reinventing older buildings with well  planned and executed repositioning strategy is more important than ever.

Repositioning can take on many forms, from a simple cosmetic approach to major modernizations and renovations, including new facades, new building systems, added floors, and completely new building cores and lobbies. Multiple factors will play into what strategy makes the most sense and works best for the project, but ultimately the owner’s decision will be made on which smart choices for improvements will provide the maximum return on the investment.

Making those smart choices includes early planning and an understanding of the building’s location, competition, and tenant target market. Planning for a repositioning requires early consultation and collaboration among owners, asset managers, leasing/facility managers, brokers, architects, engineers, and contractors. To maximize the value of your building, the objective is to analyze the market and your competition, identify key demographics, develop concept choices, estimate improvement costs, and plan a quality return on investment. With the right balance of improvements your building can greatly increase its ROI and yield excellent investor results.

From the outset in repositioning a building, it is critical to understand its current condition and constraints. As architects and designers we look at the challenges and opportunities related to and including zoning, code and ADA compliance, building systems condition, roof and exterior wall, energy efficiency, amenities and, of course, curb appeal. Each of these areas offers many opportunities for improvements and positioning the building more competitively in the marketplace, but without curb appeal, no one may even want to look at that building.  

Today’s tenants are smarter than ever. They understand real estate issues and it is important to focus on their needs to create a successful strategy that adds value for the tenant as well as a long term strategy for the owner. Ultimately, the decisions must make economic sense for the developer and investors. Opportunities reveal themselves as one begins to understand the market issues and solve the building challenges.

Zoning
Zoning changes over the years may provide opportunities to increase the floor area ratio of the building, thus adding a valuable asset to a building in the form of rentable space. The decision to add the space has to be weighed with its cost. In some cases, infilling areas of the building such as street arcades or recessed window areas can add valuable footage at a very reasonable cost. While adding floors on top of the building can maximize additional square footage, it may be too costly and logistically difficult. Each opportunity needs to be evaluated. In general adding square footage is an extremely compelling opportunity and most developers will take it.

Improved Building Systems and Controls / Higher Energy Efficiency

With energy costs rising and new buildings providing extreme energy efficiency to be competitive, it is imperative to replace old, worn out building systems with new, updated systems that will provide greater efficiency and lower operation costs. Energy efficient systems for heating and cooling, water-saving plumbing, lighting, electrical systems, and elevators all have an impact on reducing operations costs.

ADA and Code Compliance

Codes change and ADA was not even around 30 years ago so, in most cases, older buildings, at a minimum, need to be made code and ADA compliant. These changes are mandatory in almost all jurisdictions. The biggest areas of code compliance tend to be in fire, life safety, and egress issues along with fresh air requirements for the mechanical system and ADA accessibility at entrances and bathrooms. In many cases these items tie to other opportunities such as improved building systems, general aesthetic appeal, or sustainability in the case of bathrooms. In some cases, the building may be so outdated that entirely new building cores need to be replaced, including stairs, bathrooms, electrical and mechanical spaces, and elevators.

Maximize Space and Layout Efficiency

In the case of replacing the building core or even modifying it, the owner has the opportunity to improve the building’s internal layout and efficiency. In a highly competitive market where efficiency can be the difference between selecting one building over another, even a few percentage points of efficiency can make a huge cost difference to a tenant.

Building Envelope
Without a doubt the biggest impact from a visual perspective is changing the building envelope. Commonplace in repositioning, changing a building’s skin will create an enormous impact, improve energy efficiency, and provide more natural light for the occupants. New roofs, although not glamorous, are almost always replaced because of the overall investment being made and because, in most cases, it’s just time for replacement.  

Sustainability (LEED)
Although not yet required in most areas, sustainable practices are the direction most developers take when repositioning their buildings. It is not only the right thing to do in terms of energy efficiency and resources, but it also attracts clients and adds value to the asset when ready to sell. In addition, most knowledgeable consumers want sustainable buildings because they understand that they are healthier and more energy efficient in design. Most government tenants today require LEED certified buildings.

Street and Lobby Presence – First Impression

Any real estate agent will tell you how important the curb appeal is to leasing or selling a property. That first impression starts at the curb, goes into the lobby, up the elevator, and into the tenant space. If these items are not improved, all else may not matter to the tenant leasing the space. When tenants are paying premium rent they expect a certain level of finish in the building lobby, elevator cabs, exterior landscaping, bathrooms, and elevator lobbies. These are simple areas to improve and important to making a good first impression. The level of finish and cost of these improvements will all depend on the market and rent strategy. Generally, the higher the rent the higher the tenant expectations.  

Building Amenities

Amenities in buildings may not seem very new today, but for older stock buildings amenities did not exist, at least not to the level building owners now provide. New fitness centers, conference centers, concierge services, security, and roof decks are just a few of the items tenants now expect to make a repositioned building more competitive.

 


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