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Outdoor WiFi And Electric Cars: How Tech Reshaped A 24-Acre Irvine Office Park

A rendering of the central promenade at the Von Karman Creative Campus, Irvine, Calif.

Through the 1990s, the Von Karman Corporate Center was made up of nine aging office buildings spanning 24 acres in Irvine’s central business district.

Today, tenants of the new Von Karman Creative Campus take calls from WiFi-enabled outdoor meeting spaces, attend fitness classes in a custom fitness center and have an on-site concierge pick up their dry cleaning.

The repositioned and rebranded workplace community hopes to help tenants attract and retain top talent by offering on-site experiences and personal services that enhance employee wellness, innovation and productivity. According to the team that reshaped the center, though, many of its new amenities required one campus-wide improvement: connectivity.

“Developing a well-connected campus for our customers was an essential step in delivering a dynamic, highly amenitized creative workplace community,” said Brendan McCracken, portfolio director at EQ Office, the investment company behind the updates at VKCC. 

There are more than 22,000 businesses operating in the city of Irvine, many of them tech startups. Though these startups are small, they often have outsize technology requirements. McCracken said EQ's goal was to create a home for these smaller outfits that stacks up with the purpose-built campuses boasted by large tech companies.

“Digital connectivity is increasingly important to our tenants, especially as they compete for talent with larger tech firms,” VKCC Senior Property Manager Chris Pearson said. 

Pearson said EQ implemented digital infrastructure to ensure that tenants can remain productive with uninterrupted high-speed WiFi and cellular connectivity across the entire campus. Along with these physical investments, EQ certified all of its buildings with WiredScore, which verifies that a property has the digital capabilities to serve today’s tech-savvy tenants.

“The beauty of Wired Certification is that it distills complicated telecom and connectivity data into an easy-to-understand framework for leasing teams and our customers,” Pearson said. “We can easily communicate to our tenants that the campus has the digital infrastructure to meet their current and future needs.”

A rendering of an office at Von Karman Creative Campus

EQ Office, the U.S. office portfolio company wholly owned by Blackstone, designs and manages activated spaces that stand out in a rapidly shifting office market. VKCC was the first development in Irvine to pursue Wired Certification, but certifying assets with WiredScore quickly became an integral part of EQ's strategy for repositioning all of its assets. 

“WiredScore helped us achieve our vision not just for VKCC but for our entire portfolio,” McCracken said. “The Wired Certification team provided actionable advice on how to improve our buildings’ technology offerings and how those improvements will benefit our customers.”

When designing VKCC, EQ worked to create a flexible environment offering employees more choice in how to structure their workday. Tenants can charge electric vehicles at dozens of parking spots, pick up lunch from local food trucks and work outdoors at WiFi-powered green spaces.

The tech-enabled, flexible campus helps companies not only attract top talent now, but retain them in the future, Pearson said. Employees who have the option to work away from their desks report a more positive experience than those who are limited to a traditional office environment, and tenants with happy employees tend to renew their leases.

As EQ continues to reposition its holdings, it is aiming to create tenant-focused experiences, McCracken said. EQ was an early adopter of Wired Certification in Southern California, and two of its properties, MacArthur Place and Griffin Towers, were the first Wired Certified offices in Santa Ana. The investment company has committed nearly 10M SF of office space across the country to Wired Certification.

“Many CRE firms have only a transactional relationship with their tenants,” McCracken said. “We are working to bring more emotional intelligence into our offices, and that means focusing on our customers, the tenants themselves.”

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and WiredScore. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.