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How Shifting Trends Will Influence Future Office Design

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The Samsung America headquarters in San Jose
The Samsung America headquarters in San Jose designed by NBBJ with landscape architecture design by SWA

Office design has been changing in recent years, and many of those changes — from open office to a slew of amenities — are here to stay. But more change is on the horizon, including the continued move away from dedicated office development to more mixed-use applications, which is already being seen in campus development projects planned in Silicon Valley.

Bisnow caught up with NBBJ principals Scott Dunlap and Jonathan Wall to talk trends and find out what would shape office design in the years to come. The workplace campus and mixed-use design experts will discuss the future of corporate campus planning at Bisnow's Silicon Valley Office Investment & Development Series April 17.

The firm has been involved in design for projects such as Samsung's North American headquarters in San Jose, Amazon's offices in Seattle (complete with plant-filled spheres) and an office campus of two connected towers in China.

Here are their thoughts on current trends:

Bisnow: What are a few trends that you expect will shape office design in the coming decade?

Dunlap and Wall: Many of the trends that have defined office design recently — open floor plates, increased density and amenities — will continue to drive the future. At the same time, we’re exploring new tools and technologies that allow for greater choice and flexibility in the workplace. In addition, we’re increasingly focused on last-mile transportation, which will impact the ground floor of all developments. For example, the increase of ride-shares and soon autonomous vehicles means we need to rethink the spaces outside and around buildings, create more dedicated urban pathways and study the future of parking.

Bisnow: Which of these trends are we already seeing in new office design and what is on the horizon that isn't being done yet, but could quickly become the norm?

Dunlap and Wall: Sustainability has always been important to clients, but given the state of our environment, it will soon drive many of the decisions about how, why and where we work. One market-driven sustainability indicator worth investigating further is Environmental Social Governance, or ESG. Companies looking for investment will need to be hyper-sustainable, because if they don’t have the important ESG rating, funding will go elsewhere. Meantime, the physical result of ESG is already impacting buildings, with an increased focus of net zero and net positive buildings to dial back the impact of humans on the planet.

NBBJ principals Scott Dunlap and Jonathan Wall
NBBJ principals Scott Dunlap and Jonathan Wall

Bisnow: How will campuses transform (vertical campuses, demand to create community within the space, creation of flexible space, etc.)?

Dunlap and Wall: The campus as we know it today will be no more. Gone are the days of autonomous one-use buildings surrounded by parking lots. Instead, we design mixed-use urban spaces focused on human interaction. And with sustainability as a major driver, look for more living buildings with less CO2 use.

Bisnow: Will demand for sustainability increase? How will that play into office design?

Dunlap and Wall: As mentioned previously, sustainability is a major driver in workplace design. But many of these tools used to spur greater conservation will also benefit employees, such as spaces that are shared, open, light-filled, connected and focused on wellness.

Bisnow: What about demand for technology?

Dunlap and Wall: Because technology is always changing and it’s hard to predict how it will evolve, it’s important that buildings be designed to [be] flexible. At the same time, no technological innovation will ever replace the human need for interaction in physical space. The high technology used within buildings (like holographic droid meetings) or used to build the building itself (printed … by droids) will afford people opportunities to “get out and about” and not be as tied to a single place. Technology should free us.

Hear more from Wall, Dunlap and other experts at Bisnow's Silicon Valley Office Investment & Development Series April 17 at the Hilton Santa Clara.

Related Topics: NBBJ, Scott Dunlap, Jonathan Wall