Developer Brookfield Property Partners has commissioned four architecture firms — Gensler along with Houston-based Inventure Design, Ziegler Cooper and Rottet Studio — to design a total of four "next-generation" office suites in a Houston tower that it plans to lease under its DesignHive brand, according to Building Design and Construction.
Given a budget but no client, the architects were tasked with designing a workspace that considered contemporary work styles and technology — with the building's core and shell last updated in 1984.
- DesignHive launched in 2015 in Los Angeles using a similar format and included designs for a law firm, an investment company, a technology consultant and a cloud-computing company. The Houston iteration will open next month, but design details haven’t been disclosed.
Technology is driving 21st-century office design, both in the modes of communication workers rely on and the capabilities of contemporary building systems to track elements such as occupancy, thermal comfort and daylighting.
Office construction nationwide is on the rise, with Dodge Data & Analytics forecasting that starts would end 2016 up 9% from a year earlier, according to its 2017 Construction Outlook. In some areas, the trend is being driven by the return of employers to downtown areas where housing and transit are more accessible to employees.
Meanwhile, tenant fit-outs are likely to turn cubicle bays into collaborative workspaces reminiscent of the communal library, café and classroom setups that incoming millennials are used to from college and university settings, according to a Ted Moudis Associates report last year. Designs that promoted mobility — such as needing to travel across the office to access the coffee machine — were valued, as were ones that offered daylighting, quiet rooms and active-noise reduction.
A recent white paper from design and planning firm Perkins Eastman makes the case for a mix of task-oriented workstations and collaborative spaces to accommodate the needs of different jobs and worker personalities. Those include: bar-style counters, modular wall systems to segment spaces and enclosed offices.