In an effort to breath new life into a suburban five building corporate campus with a 120K SF development site the developer started with the least occupied and most dated asset, 25 Corporate Drive. The exterior is pink granite with iridescent glazing and forrest green mullions. The lobby was large and light filled, felt unwelcoming, stuck in time and constrained by strict octagonal geometry.
On a positive note, it was a double height volume with an uneccumbered view of dense forrest in the back of the building. There was an under performing cafe, and adjacent vacant office space that was proving difficult to lease. The Davis Companies decided to refresh the lobby and convert the undesireable space into fresh new campus amenities including dining a multi-purpose space, locker rooms and fitness center. Financially this meant transferring rentable square footage into loss factor. It may sound counterintuitive, but there is proven value in the improved campus perception and a need to keep up with the market. Newer office parks are offering a wide range of shared spaces and services to attract startups and tech companies, as well as to retain existing tenants. We see the generational shift in the workforce demographic pushing the real estate market to provide the flexible and collaborative spaces that students were afforded by top universities. Trends move from academic into workplace and multifamily residential as people graduate. Work, Live, Play is now ingrained in suburban life. It is actually blurring the lines between urban and metro. Large campuses and developments, whether corporate or retail, are feeling more like “little cities.”
One anticipated challenge was visibility and access. In order to draw tenants from the other buildings to the new hub they commissioned major landscape improvements to the central Town Green. A seemingly forgotten outcropping of rocks and scrubby trees. Although home to several squirrels, this unsightly mound blocked the view across campus from building to building. The owner wanted to encourage lounge, play and activity in a central outdoor location. We changed the vehicular patterns to allow for food trucks to park during the summer months and added colorful umbrellas, cafe tables and adirondack chairs. The landscape design provided pathways and connections to guide tenants to Building 25. We designed feature trellis elements at both the main entry door as well as a new front patio with direct access to the expanded indoor dining. The folly structures incorporate rhythmic slats of wood (Ipe) to draw your eye away from the pink building and weave a common thread of nature through the building. The idea is that similar canopies and screens could be added to the other buildings, all of which have different colors and cladding materials, to bring more continuity and belonging to each address.
In designing public space it is critical to have your finger on the pulse of the users. Amenities can purely “check the box” on the leasing brokers tour or they can really enhance the experience of a property. Branding is also key to a polished PR campaign to unveiling improvements to the real estate market. Tenants want convenience and they want alternate places to work with the new found mobility of wireless and remote technology. Employers want large gathering spaces that would be too expensive to maintain within their privately leased spaces. They may only need a space for 200 employees to gather quarterly, but where can they go to do that? Planning for the flexibility to move furniture, project and close off the dining area is key. We installed moveable glass partitions that pocket into
Dining and Multi-Purpose Conference Area
Fitness and Yoga Studio
Locker and Shower rooms
Location: Burlington, MA
Design Firm: CBT
Design Team: Robin Abraham, Shonali Rajani, Tiffany Sengillo, Zoe Benson, Shawn Malloy, Stefan Vogelmann, Jennifer Raicheck, Andrew Chipman, Haril Pandya and Maren Reepmeyer
Completion Date: December 2015
Concept: A Campus Thread
Story: Building 25 was the most under performing asset in the client’s suburban campus. With high vacancies the owner/developer was able to capitalize on this and make the building the center of the campus by renovating the main lobby and existing cafeteria (newly branded Graze) and adding a 200 seat dining / conference area and adjacent outdoor patio seating (Gather), coffee bar (Grind), a fitness center (Grit) with yoga studio and locker rooms. Davis also improved landscaping and connectivity between the new central hub and the other three buildings on campus with a newly landscaped Town Greene.
Contractor: J Cole & Associates, LLC (Jim Cole)
Furniture: Creative Office Pavilion (Chris Blackburn)
Custom Rugs: Niba Rugs (Rebecca Scott)
Fitness Equipment: Gym Source (David Eaton)