Inspired By Biophilic Design, An Updated Maryland Office Building Puts Employee Wellness First
A lush green space filled with plants chosen for their ability to nurture the surrounding ecosystem, an outpost offering fast access to healthy meals featuring fresh, locally sourced vegetables, and a piazza-style terrace with a yoga lawn for exercise, meditation and relaxation. While these may sound like the makings of a wellness retreat, they can all be found in a Maryland office building.
WAYLINE, located at 6721 Columbia Gateway Drive in the Columbia Gateway Innovation District, was built in 2010 and is currently undergoing a substantial renovation that is set to be completed in February. The building has been transformed by Corporate Office Properties Trust from a traditional office building to a modern collaborative space focused on boosting tenant productivity, health and wellness.
“This is a fairly modern building, so it already offered a lot of what today’s tenants are looking for like generous floor plates, large windows and abundant parking,” COPT Vice President of Asset Management and Leasing John Hermann said. “What we did at COPT was try to push the envelope and find new ways to incorporate features to enhance employee wellness into the amenities."
The expectations surrounding the modern office are changing. As employees slowly return to the office following an unprecedented amount of time at home, they are looking for ways to feel supported — both physically and mentally — and connected to the world around them as they work. This means creating spaces that not only encourage productivity and employee wellness, but that can also mimic the feeling of being part of the outside world even as employees are sitting at their desks.
COPT Design Manager Mark Wendell said that the main driver behind the design of these new amenities was the concept of "biophilic design," which is focused on bringing elements of nature into an indoor space. To accomplish this, the COPT team brought in plant gardens, created custom wall coverings and light fixtures that mimic natural elements, and chose natural building materials whenever possible.
“Coming out of the COVID-19 era, one of the design goals was to help people feel more comfortable re-entering the office environment,” Wendell said. “Biophilic design has a great track record of reducing stress, increasing productivity and self-reported rates of well-being.”
To expand on this focus on natural elements, the team spent close to $1M to craft new landscape architecture outside of the building. Hermann said that originally, the team had just planned to create green spaces in the back of the building, but in response to the pandemic, it expanded green space to the front of the building and the terrace by the parking area so tenants could have the option to spread out, relax and take the opportunity to recharge while they get some air. COPT also included a yoga lawn and a basketball court to offer outdoor exercise options.
WAYLINE also features a sweetgreen Outpost that allows tenants to order cult-favorite sweetgreen salads and grain bowls in the morning that will be delivered by lunchtime to a kiosk inside the building, enabling tenants to order and pick up lunch in a completely contact-free way. There will also be a food truck court in the front of the building featuring a rotating selection of food and beverage trucks.
All of these options are designed to be a welcome change for people who have been used to working from home for the past several months and are eager to switch up their routine, but who are still looking for limited-contact and comfortable outdoor dining options.
WAYLINE is part of a three-building complex, and its tenants have access to the neighboring buildings’ amenities, including a spa-quality fitness center, which will feature a spin room with Peloton bikes and other new exercise equipment, all designed to help boost employee wellness without having to roam far from the office.
Along with these wellness-based amenities, COPT added a contemporary conference center that can fit up to 42 people, a new kitchen offering on-tap cold brew coffee, scalable private meeting rooms and a hospitality-oriented lobby with lots of welcoming spaces for tenants to greet clients or collaborate away from their desks.
COPT also offers unique tenant programming aimed at activating this space including sushi-making classes, yoga classes and whiskey tasting events.
“We’re focused on creating spaces and experiences that give renewed purpose to coming to the office,” COPT Director of Asset Management and Leasing Krysta Herring said. "WAYLINE will be an engaging retreat that inspires culture-building and collaboration for companies that recognize limitations of remote work."
There are more than 70 restaurants and retail options within a 1.5-mile radius of WAYLINE including Wegmans, Cava, Nalley Fresh, Starbucks, Orangetheory and Trader Joe’s.
WAYLINE is a part of the Columbia Gateway Innovation District, which is home to several institutions focused on innovation, including the DreamPort cyber innovation hub and the Maryland Innovation Center.
COPT has recently completed four new leases in the building, with a significant percentage of the tenants poised to contribute to Columbia Gateway’s technology and innovation footprint.
“We wanted WAYLINE to be completely aligned with the spirit of innovation that fuels this region,” Herring said. “Approximately 55% of our current tenant base in Columbia is in the cyber/defense and IT sectors. They’re here, in part, because they recognize what an incredible location this is to attract and retain skilled talent from the Baltimore and D.C. metro regions. Our goal is to create an environment to help our tenants accomplish that.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Corporate Office Properties Trust and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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