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January 8, 2009  

For those of you who follow the tech scene, we invite you to our Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze:  "Federal IT Trends in the Obama Era: What's Hot and What's Not." All-star panel of top government contractor CEOs and agency CIOs, Tower Club, breakfast, Thursday, January 22.  Sign up! 


Planning the base building for 2000 Tower Oaks Blvd to LEED Platinum set a high bar for Lerner Enterprises' interior design, since Lerner chose to located its own HQ in the new Rockville building it co-developed. But they've built baseball stadiums, so not much fazes them. On the other hand, we're easily fazed, so gladly accepted their invitation to see how they handled it.


Once you get past the bouncer—aka Mark Lerner—you see green incorporated into every nook. The pearwood used throughout is FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council, if you're new to this). Unfortunately, pearwood does not mean scratch and sniff, and we apologize to Mark for any confusion. LEED Gold is the interior design goal, and they've already aced 30 points with eight more anticipated thanks to features like recycled drywall, carpet fiber and backing, and Energy Star appliances. Plus, the base building helped the cause by providing low flow toilets, bike racks, and parking spaces for carpool and hybrid cars.


Lerner's Director of Tenant Services Bonnie Pulise, left, worked closely with Gensler architects Jessica Williamson, Mariela Buendia-Corrochano, and Antonello Musumeci (not pictured) to reduce artificial lighting. Daylight harvesting sensors adjust lights based on available sunlight, and Gensler used "indirect lighting" (smoke and mirrors, if you will) to give the perception of higher outputs. Combined, this lowered the lighting power density without sacrificing design. In back of the women, notice that workspace walls are low to ensure daylight pervades. And when you need more privacy (like for secretive finance folk), higher walls have transparent glass. Bonnie summed up the design: "A lot of glass, a lot of light."


Daylight influenced the design of the caf? as well; it's built on the perimeter to ensure meals with a view. Gensler's Brand Design studio also integrated pieces of Lerner "cultural identity" by adding Nationals baseball references. (We suggested they uphold the theme by serving Denny's Grand Slam breakfast, and Mark's silence probably means he's taking it under advisement.) Branding loops on flat screens are found throughout the office to echo the company's motto of Integrity and Community.


From the "war room" Bonnie told us about their unique floor plan. They ditched the old-fashioned method of head honchos on the perimeter and instead based office location on the type of work performed, to enhance collaboration. The feedback? Employees say they're more relaxed, and sick days are down. A ban on smoking within 25 feet of the building may have something to do with that—plus it garners LEED points. Or it could be the frequency of air circulation (refreshed and cleaned every 50 minutes). HVAC within the space operates by measuring actual C02 (what we breathe out), rather than using estimated occupancy; this saves energy by running the VAV boxes when necessary.


Tenant Coordinator Kelly Burnette (2nd from right) joined us for some parting thoughts. The Lerners spent 26 years at their North Bethesda location (and 10 logged at their Dulles and Tysons offices). Now consolidated, they plan for at least that many here. Thus, Gensler gave them a "timeless, elegant design." The walls are a clean, white background for lots of art to brighten the space, rather than a variety of colors that becomes dated. And furniture will be flexible for the future as well. We assume that's a fancy way of saying there's room for a World Series trophy.

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