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JPMorgan Taking On Lessons From Pandemic Year In New HQ Design

JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase will go with a flexible design for its new, enormous headquarters on Manhattan's Park Avenue as the world's largest bank looks to adapt to the workplace of the future.

The company is building a $3B office skyscraper in Midtown East for its global headquarters, and will be using a “universal design” for the 70-story-tall property, meaning the plans are flexible and able to be shifted into different setups, according to a construction document JPMorgan Chase released to find a construction manager, Business Insider reported.

“We are learning from this year, and always design our spaces to be flexible to adapt to any business or market changes,” a spokesperson for the bank told Business Insider. The spokesperson added the approach at the workplace is in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as working habits that were already happening before the crisis.  

The company announced back in 2018 it planned to replace its existing 52-story building at 270 Park Ave., making use of the Midtown East rezoning. Demolition work began in 2019, and the city council approved plans that would involve 10K SF of public space at the base of the building. The 2.5M SF tower is expected to be complete in 2024 and will house some 14,000 employees. 

Reports began emerging in 2019 that the bank was considering shrinking its New York City presence and moving thousands of employees elsewhere. A potential plan to possibly sell its Madison Avenue skyscraper was also reportedly in the mix, but Business Insider reports the foundation work for the new tower at 270 Park Ave. is about to start.

Office landlords, brokers and employers alike are watching how the bank approaches the return to the office and what kind of long-term plans it makes. Any adaptation the financial companies make has an impact on the overall ecosystem of the leasing market, which has been weak since the onset of the pandemic.

While other banking leaders, like Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon, have described the work from home push as an “aberration,” JPMorgan has indicated the switch to remote work in the last year will have a lasting impact.

Earlier this month, CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders that the bank plans to "significantly reduce" its office footprint in the coming years as it overhauls the design and usage of its workplaces. He said he acknowledged some limitations of remote work, but expects up to 10% of the bank's employees "in very specific roles" will work from home permanently.

Earlier this year, Citigroup told its employees it is planning for a hybrid workplace going forward. Meanwhile, JPMorgan earlier this year listed 700K SF of its office space in Lower Manhattan on the sublease market. Yelp and PwC have also marketed office space on the New York sublease market.