August 20, 2019

The Next Frontier in Office Space? The Outdoors

The Next Frontier in Office Space? The Outdoors


Companies that hire SWA want to know what the competition is doing, in part because they are all angling for the same work force, said Gerdo P. Aquino, the firm’s chief executive.

“Every time I start a program, they say, ‘Check out what Apple did, what Facebook did, what Google did,’” he said.

Companies are also asking workers what they want in outdoor spaces.

A survey commissioned by L. L. Bean found that 86 percent of indoor workers would like to spend more time outdoors during the workday. The retailer, based in Freeport, Me., teamed up with the co-working firm Industrious to create a pop-up outdoor office with individual and group work areas — and then took the show on the road. Started in New York’s Madison Square Park last summer, the “Be an Outsider at Work” demonstration project traveled to Boston, Philadelphia and Madison, Wis.

LinkedIn has a workplace design lab at the main campus of its headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., for tinkering with ideas for outfitting its 32 offices around the globe. Shade is essential for outdoor work spaces, the lab has found, in part to prevent glare on phone and laptop screens. The lab created a mobile meeting room that can be rolled out onto a terrace, and is designing an in-place roofed space with desks and indoor-outdoor computer monitors, according to Brett Hautop, LinkedIn’s senior director for global design and build.

Of course, it’s one thing to introduce an outdoor work space at a sprawling, low-rise campus; it’s another to squeeze it into a project in a built-up urban environment where every square foot, if not square inch, matters. And some parts of the country have to contend with inclement weather.

In New York, developers are incorporating outdoor spaces in new projects.

When Tavros Holdings, Charney Construction & Development and 1 Oak Contracting began a mixed-use complex centered on the historic Dime Savings Bank building in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, outdoor space was “a must,” said Nicholas Silvers, a founding partner of Tavros Holdings.

Their architect, Fogarty Finger in New York, added terraces to a five-story structure for retailing and offices; office tenants will furnish the terraces as they see fit. Grain Collective will landscape the roof, which tenants will share with renters in the complex’s residential tower, with flower beds, a boardwalk and a lawn.



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