On November 6, Teknion’s NY showroom hosted a recent CoreNet Strategy and Portfolio Planning (SPP) Committee’s review.
Who Wins CoreNet NYC Chapter Awards and Why?
SPP Chair Larry Charlip welcomed everyone to the event and introduced Awards Committee Chair Sarah Brown, who noted that this year’s winners reflect the Committee’s focus on innovative projects that have a positive impact on employees. Proposed projects included
Project of the Year Nominee: Milbank LLP (Over 100,000 Square Feet Category)
Milbank LLP – 55 Hudson Yards
As recounted by the client’s broker Dale Schlather of Cushman & Wakefield, 1 Chase Plaza was Milbank’s home for many years. A classic law firm building, it was short on natural light, but it felt like home. So, when the firm’s lease was up for renewal in 2010, it was no surprise that Milbank chose to stay for five more years.
However, in those five years, this 153-year-old Wall Street firm changed leadership, expanded its base of business and modernized the brand. When the lease was up again in 2020, Milbank went back to the market seeking a space and location that more outwardly represented its new developments. After an exhaustive search, Milbank signed a lease at 55 Hudson for nearly 300,000 square feet across 10 floors.
Not only did 55 Hudson meet Milbank’s specific search criteria but it supported workplace structures that are becoming increasingly popular, from bright, modern interior design, a strategic combination of private and collaborative spaces and intra-office staircases and terraces. The space represents and promotes the company’s culture of transparency and less-rigid hierarchies.
Additionally, focus groups were conducted to socialize new standards, including a limit of two office sizes with glass fronts. First-, second- and third year-associates now share offices in this new energy-efficient space, which appeals to recruits and associates alike. Milbank has even seen more than a 50-percent increase in client events being held at the new office.
Project of the Year Winner: WPP Campus (Over 100,000 Square Feet Category)
3 World Trade Center
WPP’s Senior Vice President and Head of Group Real Estate, Americas, Bruce MacAffer shared the journey of WPP’s Group M, the largest communications company in the United States and parent company of eight separate media companies that actually compete against each other. Previously located in separate buildings, WPP wanted to leverage scale while making a statement to the market. It selected the World Trade Center partly to contribute to the Financial District’s rebirth and help renew economic development in the area.
WPP needed 500,000 to 600,000 square feet and looked extensively at different spaces and ultimately decided that prewar and modernist buildings would not reflect the openness of WPP’s brands.
The World Trade Center had a lot to offer, from discounted power, large column-free spaces and full-height glass to a wellness center, terraces and a central transit hub, important to the company’s youth-oriented talent commuting from Brooklyn and Hoboken. The World Trade Center elevated Group M’s image and enhanced its ability to attract and retain talent. Since the move, the impressive space has also been highly conducive to client events and fostered increased client retention figures.
In the end, Group M took 700,000 square feet, with the 70-percent agile work environment and were able to increase strategic density. Even the CEO and HR sit in shared spaces that include three-, four- and five-person workpoints.
Design firm HOK employed an innovative planning process that accounted for the different needs of Group M’s eight different brands. HOK used a speed-dating strategy that paired each unit’s lead with different design studios that best enabled the unites to create their own identities. Each company has its own front door while also sharing a town hall space that enables these units to share resources and leverage the power of the group.
The success of the project has prompted a global shift in how WPP selects real estate: “From now on, we’ll only have single buildings housing multiple companies in each location.”
Project of the Year Winner: IEX Group (25,000 – 100,000 Square Feet Category)
3 World Trade Center
Founded in 2012, IEX is a technology company committed to raising the bar for performance, fairness and transparency. In 2016, IEX launched the Investors Exchange, a stock exchange working to protect investors, and in just three years, the Investors Exchange has grown to be one of the ten largest exchange operators globally by notional value traded.
IEX was previously located in a space at 4 WTC and had grown from 85 people to 160 and a needed new space to support its growth trajectory. An employee survey and zip code analysis showed that there was a need for better pantries, areas for private conversation, improved desk space, HVAC and lighting and more men’s room space. Additionally, there was a desire for a gym, showers, more event space and proximity to transportation for a workforce that commutes largely from Brooklyn.
In addition to the employee experience needs, the site search had two critical elements:
1) A regulatory requirement to have a backup generator on site (not as common as one might think)
2) A space that would provide an outstanding and memorable experience for visitors, which would compete or exceed with that of ringing the bell at the NYSE and Nasdaq.
After a range of test fits at other locations, 3 WTC offered the best solution when considering a wide range of factors, such as economics, downtown incentives, technical requirements and employee experience.
The IEX team is now located in a beautiful space offering daylight and exceptional views. The entrance features an impressive variable LED light display around the elevator core. The server room is also viewable through glass wall near the lobby visitors to see as a visual symbol of IEX’s complex operations. Amenities include a flexible pantry, event space, gym and shower areas for all employees.
Project of the Year Winner: M Moser Associates (Under 25,000 Square Feet Category)
The Woolworth Building
When architecture firm M Moser Associates’ lease was expiring, the firm used the opportunity to look for a new home that was more cost-effective while also being architecturally significant. The search culminated in their move from Union Square to the Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway.
The new location has become a true design studio. It is an agile environment that showcases the type of space that many of the firm’s clients are interested in creating for themselves. Employees now have the opportunity to provide factual data based on their own personal journeys. The space has quiet areas, living walls, a pantry and lounge area, along with desks that can move. A unique aspect of the space is a grid mapped out on the floor that ties to a visualization system, that enables the team to illustrate spaces to their clients.
There is also a MILQ Studio, a combination mother’s room and podcast studio, making it one of the most unique mother’s rooms in New York.
The space was designed to comply with the WELL building certification standards and as part of the process, an air purification system is in use. With this system the team can understand or smell instantaneously the impact of off-gassing. Absenteeism has been reduced by 60 percent and one employee with chronic migraines noted that they no longer experience them with the air purification system in the new space.