Houston’s Office Buildings Get Smart With Emerging Technology
Your experience at Park Towers starts with SiriusXM streaming music, signature aroma scents and complimentary WiFi. An iPad lobby tenant directory and touch-screen kiosks guide visitors and guests to their exact location in the Class-A office building in Houston's Uptown/Galleria area. The lobby’s four-panel, 55-inch LED screens bring a sophisticated and modern ambiance to the workplace.
Welcome to the office of the future.
TPMC Realty Corp. had innovation in mind when it began the redevelopment of Park Towers. Noticing a gap between Houston’s office landscape and the growing trend toward smart buildings, the development team wanted to upgrade the asset with technology and luxury finishes to provide a competitive edge against existing inventory and new office developments. This technology provides an office destination that enhances a tenant’s workday.
Elevating The Office With Technology
At Park Towers, this began with changing the tenants' elevator experience. The development team modernized the existing elevators with ThyssenKrupp Destination Dispatch technology. To use these elevators, tenants enter their destination into a touch-screen kiosk in the lobby, which directs them to the elevator that will get them to their destination. Destination dispatch is an optimization technique used for multi-elevator installations. It groups passengers going to the same destination into the same elevators, reducing waiting and travel times compared to a traditional approach where all passengers enter the same lift and then request their destination. This system provides an efficient alternative to the traditional elevator.
“Destination Dispatch elevators are attractive because they do not make unnecessary stops, and they create smoother traffic flow,” Thyssenkrupp Houston North Manager Nicole Sossie Tringali said. “For buildings with heavy traffic at peak hours, this can mean dramatic reductions in lobby crowding and overall trip time. In certain applications, overall trip times can be reduced by as much as 25%.”
This destination dispatch trend has been adopted in several cities across the U.S. In 2015, ThyssenKrupp installed elevators at One World Trade Center that could reach the 102nd floor in 60 seconds. While this technology has gained popularity in New York and other major U.S. cities, it is newer to the Greater Houston area. Park Towers is the first luxury office tower to use Thyssenkrupp’s Destination Dispatch elevator system, and less than 5% of Houston’s elevators currently employ this technology.
The concept of a conference center has evolved from just a meeting room into a dynamic collaborative experience. Tenant requirements in this market command surround sound, hot-wired tables for power and connectivity, large screens to view presentations and flexible furniture layouts to customize to their needs. To ensure tenants can take advantage of this technology, Network Datacom Solutions installed a wall-mounted iPad mini controller which allows users to easily switch from cable TV to WiFi or HDMI presenting modes using VIA Kramer software.
Keeping Tenants Informed
When employees are at the office for eight or more hours a day, it can be difficult to stay informed about what is happening in the outside world. The Park Towers development team wanted to find a way to ensure tenants stay up-to-date on the news. Network Datacom Solutions installed complimentary WiFi throughout the lobby, fitness center and conference center. This allows tenants to receive information as they enter and exit the office and throughout the day. The development team also designed each multi-tenant corridor with a 50-inch LED TV screen that keeps employees informed about news, weather and traffic. In the lobby, the large eight-foot TV wall can transform into building announcements about the next tenant event or welcome guests. Inside the elevator, an Elite PI Display TV features a welcome greeting, customized building announcements and the latest news and sports.
Safety and security is a high priority for many tenants as they search for office space.
To meet this need Park Towers has integrated smart technology into its security initiatives. In addition to providing efficient floor-to-floor access, after-hours use of the elevators requires tenants to swipe their access card inside the elevator after they choose their floor. This ensures only authorized employees can access specific floors in the building. All floors are automatically secured after normal business hours and throughout the weekend, when only tenants with the proper authorization can gain access using their access card.
The technology at the concierge desk in each lobby also provides for a more secure building. Verifying each guest or visitor check-in via the EasyLobby system helps the security courtesy team track guests, while the iPad tenant directory provides tower location, floor and suite number. In addition, 24/7 courtesy officers and a secure access system allow tenants to safely use the building, garage and amenities center during after-hours and weekends.
Bringing Healthy Living Practices To Work
As wellness trends continue to shape the office landscape, Park Towers is using technology to improve work conditions for tenants. In a CBRE survey, 81% of key executives within companies occupying office space listed building amenities as the single most important factor to their workforce. In addition to conference rooms that turn into yoga and meditation studios and outdoor areas with a fitness circuit, picnic area and green space, Park Towers offers a fitness center fully powered by smart technology.
The fitness facility, which is open to all tenants, features a Precor cardio system that allows users to track workout performance, similar to wearable fitness tech. Gym-goers can create customized accounts that log workouts and set goals. By signing into the account each time they use the fitness center, tenants can compare workouts and create a customized fitness experience. They can also download a fitness app on their phone and access their fitness data from several different locations.
As more companies participate in growing trends like group wellness activities and fitness challenges, this sort of tracking system can help employees motivate themselves and each other.
Embracing the Building of The Future
As smart office trends become more common, Park Towers continues to innovate. The team is exploring new technologies such as a tenant engagement platform, food-expediting app and mobile cafeteria catering service that further streamlines the office experience.
“The next generation of tenants are beginning to set expectations for the office of the future,” TPMC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steven Seltzer said. “We need to be one step ahead of the curve, and that means being creative about using technology to redefine the tenant experience.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and TPMC Realty. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.