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Inside The Midsize Office Development With Big Ideas

The ground floor winter garden at HB Reavis' Bloom office building

It used to be that in-house auditoriums were the preserve of massive office buildings let to huge corporate occupiers: Clifford Chance's 700K SF skyscraper in Canary Wharf for instance, or UBS' 700K SF office in the City.

But HB Reavis’ Bloom building in Farringdon includes a 170-seater auditorium in an office building of just 135K SF — not small by any means, but also not one of the monoliths that used to be the only kind of office where such an amenity could be justified.

Alongside 15K SF of terrace space, a 1,200 SF fitness studio and changing rooms with 19 showers and 242 lockers, it shows how the developers of office schemes of all sizes are increasing the amount of communal and amenity space to attract tenants. The building is looking to innovate in the fields of flexibility for occupiers and sustainability also. Construction started in 2018 and completion is expected in 2020.

“[Including an auditorium] was a decision based on feedback we’ve had from discussions with occupiers, and the changing demands on their businesses. ” HB Reavis Development Manager Joe Williams said. “Occupiers are increasingly looking for space for things like town-hall meetings for staff or product launches. Having that fit for purpose already packs a real punch in a building of this size.”

Williams said that whereas once developers would have looked at facilities like changing rooms, fitness rooms and outside terraces as something that took away the amount of area that could be leased as offices, now it makes buildings more appealing and feeds through into attracting tenants and increased rents.

“Something like cycle facilities and changing rooms would once have been very much ‘back of house’, perhaps even an afterthought, but these parts of the building are a key focus from the design outset across all our projects," he said. "We obsess about the user experience from the moment someone enters the building, thinking about the flow of people, the ergonomics, and how people actually use (and want to) use space.”

There is also 7K SF of ground-floor retail.

The auditorium at Bloom

The increased desire of office occupiers for flexibility has been well documented, and HB Reavis is attempting to increase this flexibility by offering a service where tenants can use the company to design and fit out its space, as well as simply building the building. It is a model that HB Reavis has utilised in its home region of Central and Eastern Europe.

“Traditionally the UK norm is for a developer to fit out a building to Category A, and then the occupier has to spend significant time and money fitting it out,” HB Reavis Leasing Manager Charlie Russell-Jones said. “However, we can offer occupiers a full turnkey solution saving the occupier time and money. Moreover, with our internal workspace advisory team, we can advise prospective occupiers on how they can improve their working environment to increase efficiency and productivity”

HB Reavis will be looking to achieve a WELL Platinum rating for the building, incorporating elements like circadian lighting, healthy cafés and fresh strawberry plants on terrace tables.

And one of its most innovative features will be in the area of sustainability, where it will be looking for an "outstanding" rating. The building will be powered by the Citigen district-wide power generation system run by energy firm E.on. Excess heat is captured from the nearby St. Barts campus and Barbican housing complex and used to create electricity that can power nearby buildings. Bloom will have a backup system, but in the first instance all of its electricity will be provided by energy emitted by other buildings.

“The Citigen connection has significant benefits for our occupiers — being a much more resilient, cost effective and efficient way of powering a building and therefore a much more environmentally friendly solution," Russell-Jones said. "It also supports the environmental focus on occupiers’ agendas."

As office occupiers demand more, innovative amenities will no longer be confined to the biggest buildings.

Bisnow's Creative Office Bash will be held at HB Reavis' 33 Central office scheme Thursday.