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In Center City, A Renovated Landmark Building Keeps Its Focus On What Makes Philadelphia Unique

1600 Market St.

The return to the office stirs up mixed emotions. For some, there is reluctance. For others, there’s joy. Regardless of which camp employees are in, creating an office environment focused on providing an experience that can’t be duplicated at home and celebrating the city they love is critical to encouraging employees to be excited about returning to the office.   

1600 Market St., located in the heart of Center City in Philadelphia, has implemented a design centered around creating this type of experience. 

Started in early spring 2019 and completed in late fall 2020, American Real Estate Partners’ $15M renovation stayed true to its mission of thinking beyond physical amenities to deliver a new workplace that prioritized tenant experience, well-being and connection.

Crafting Value-Rich Workplaces 

"This 39-story iconic landmark has been repositioned and transformed from a button-downed office tower into a unique workplace with an electric energy where productivity is elevated and where people feel comfortable and connected — in short, a unique place where Philadelphians want to be," said Paul Schulman, principal and chief operating officer at AREP, which owns and operates 1600 Market St.

Spa-inspired fitness amenities and second-level gym at 1600 Market St. featuring artwork of Kobe Bryant.

Meeting The Needs Of Today And Tomorrow 

With help from design partner Collective Architecture, AREP reimagined 1600 Market St. to be an office environment that meets not only the needs of today's tenants but those of the future. 1600's amenity and collaboration spaces are designed for easy virtual and in-person connection. The spacious lobby features open seating areas and a local favorite, Elixr Roasters coffee bar. The signature pop art carries through to the outside event patio, where Curbside Kitchen's food vendors offer a rotation of curated options from 1600's customized food buggy.

“Every element of this building’s reposition is designed to put our tenants first, and reflects the pulse and fabric of Philadelphia,” said Kerri Thomas, senior vice president of leasing at AREP. “Everything we’ve done, from the bold Philly-centric pop art throughout and flexible office design, to providing best-in-class amenities, is part of our holistic approach to creating a value-rich workplace focused on the well-being and comfort of our tenants.” 

The lobby of 1600 Market St. featuring Willy the Fox and Elixr Roasters.

Tech-Infused Flexibility 

1600 places a premium on tech-infused flexibility and performance. It has a Wired Score Gold rating that ensures uninterrupted connectivity wherever employees or visitors are in the building. The amenity spaces are designed to make virtual and in-person connections easy, with a conference center and private huddle rooms to maximize productivity. There are also several spaces that can be easily transformed into collaboration areas, while the hospitality lounge provides a luxe common area to relax. 

AREP also placed a premium on tenant health and wellness, Thomas said, from areas to relax and unwind to the 5K SF fitness center with spa-inspired locker rooms. Tenants can seamlessly review amenity programming, curated events and experiences — as well as reserve spaces through AREPx, the building's tenant engagement app.

An amenity space at 1600 Market St. featuring artwork of Questlove.

Connecting People To Place

While conference rooms and even fitness centers have become common sights in offices across the country, what people will find at 1600 Market St. that they won’t see anywhere else is unique pop art that celebrates Philadelphia. 

AREP has blended history and pop culture into the lobby design and throughout the amenity spaces to recognize well-known Philadelphians in an unexpected and engaging way.  When visitors enter the lobby, they are greeted with a specially commissioned bright yellow statue of “Willy” the fox holding a red balloon above the reception desk, created as a nod to the fact that the building is located where the old Fox Theatre once stood. As they move throughout the building, they will find more examples of pop culture and history blending.

A flexible workspace area at 1600 Market St. featuring artwork of Benjamin Franklin.

“From a mural of Benjamin Franklin posing for a graffiti-like selfie to a portrait of Grammy and Oscar award-winning Questlove over a collage of old Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper covers, we wanted to celebrate people who represent the diverse and inimitable fabric of Philly  — important cultural icons who have brought joy to people,” said Louise Boulton-Lear, AREP vice president of brand marketing.

Built-In Wellness 

Although the redesign began prior to the pandemic, AREP continued its industry-leading focus on tenant wellness. 1600 Market has not only met, but exceeded the guidelines set out by health authorities, including doubling the outside air settings from 20% to 40% to maximize fresh air exchange. 

“Our entire portfolio, including this building, is WELL Health-Safety Rated and we are also the first commercial real estate company in the U.S. to achieve UL Industries Healthy Buildings Verification mark for indoor air and water portfoliowide," Schulman said.

The hospitality lounge entrance and Philadelphia mural at 1600 Market St.

Mitch Marcus, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle, which is handling leasing for the building, added that another key aspect of employee wellness is offering them the flexibility and freedom to work in the environment that best suits their style. 1600 Market St. features 115K SF of contiguous office space, spec suites and outdoor space for employees.

Thanks to the building’s Wired Score Gold rating, they will stay connected wherever they go. 

“Throughout the entire renovation, our focus remained firmly on what people wanted once they came back to the office, what is going to keep them engaged and how can we serve their needs so they can be and perform at their best,” Schulman said. “We have created a building and amenity package that encapsulates that.” 

1600 Market is one block from Philadelphia City Hall, the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines, and several shops and restaurants. 

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and 1600 Market st. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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