Contact Us
News

"Funkified"

That's the new word we learned at Bisnow's Future of Office and The Creative Workplace event Tuesday morning. 

It's what you call turning a boring DC building into a cool, funky space, says MRP Realty principal Zach Wade. With creative office inventory being only 2% of the market in DC, it’s what has to be done to woo today’s workforce. One example of a boring DC building getting funkified is 1620 L St, a mid-block building that reflected a strange green hue from its across-the-street neighbor. LaSalle bought the building last September, added some amenities, and now tenants are clamoring to get in, Zach says.

So why should we bring back the funk? Because most American workers are disengaged, says Lend Lease workplace strategies director Kay Sargent, who delivered one of our morning's keynotes. And much of that can be blamed on technology, which is distracting and frustrating, and sucking valuable and meaningful time from workers. Kay says companies need to go back to basics when designing space. Her advice: Know who you are and design to that (one solution does not fit all); consider your industry, regional influences, work styles and demographics. The space should also mirror a company’s organizational structure. Offices also need to be flexible and designed in sync with the way people naturally move.

But how do funky buildings jive with BOMA? Cooper Carry principal Steve Smith says it’s time to stop being a slave to those standards (used since 1915 for measuring rentable area in office buildings). His firm is working on transforming buildings into schools, offices and hotels. One under construction now has an “obscene” core factor with a small footprint, but it’s appealing to tenants because of surrounding amenities.

How are others defining funkify? Giving workers an experience inside and outside of their buildings. Meridian Group managing director Gary Block says 60% of tenants leave their space because they're lacking that "experience." His firm has several transit-oriented projects that focus on fun and active lifestyles. Having flexible space is also key. The firm was able to get Cvent to its new space on Greensboro Station Place in Tysons (a stone's throw from its old location) two years ago because it could offer 60k SF flexible floor plates.

Uber Offices CEO Raymond Rahbar says he’s been starting to cater more of the amenities in his 300 co-working offices toward office workers who are biking and walking to work. That means looking for nearby bike shops and accessible doorways for people lugging in a bike. Even though most people obsess over what Millennials want in their office space, Raymond says he’s more focused on the needs of individual entrepreneurs, no matter their age. He also doesn’t charge for space by square footage but by number of people working in the space. It’s the best way to keep it simple and not have to constantly remeasure space.

JBG VP Quinn Rounsaville says it’s really about how a specific tenant can fit into a specific space. His firm recently did a lease for a large tech corporation in Georgetown that was able to squeeze a lot of people into the space because of that tenant and that particular market. It doesn’t work as well with an accounting firm. Concessions can be offered by landlords to overcome a space’s large core factor.  

Office design is going through a major swing between wide, open spaces to some groups still wanting space for heads-down workers, says DFS Construction principal Grant Stephens (right). Companies are putting in cool, edgy lounge areas despite their offices being conservative around the perimeter, but then some CEOs are choosing to sit amongst the worker bees. Cushman & Wakefield director Mark Wooters says we’re only in the second inning of a fundamental shift in business. (That’s code for all predictions will be out the window next year.)