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The Evolution of the Skyscraper

The 47-story Texas Tower is under construction in downtown Houston. Image by Steelblue

(REALTY NEWS REPORT) – With greenscaped terrace roof decks, public gardens on level 12, multiple food and beverage offerings and abundant spaces for networking, Texas Tower – now under construction in downtown Houston by Hines and Canada’s Ivanhoé Cambridge — is designed to attract and retain talent.

Created by Pelli Clarke Pelli and scheduled to open in late 2021, Texas Tower boasts flexible physical spaces, tenant-centric amenities, and innovative health features. “Every building we build is not only a product but a laboratory,” said John Mooz, a senior managing director and Houston/Austin/San Antonio market at the four-day National Association of Real Estate Editor’s (NAREE) Annual Real Estate Journalism Conference at the Hyatt Regency Austin. “When we built 609 Main at Texas, we learned that people wanted more access to natural light and more green space. Texas Tower has both.”

Mooz said Hines will soon announce a global workforce platform, with two of the best in class operating partners, to deliver space that clients seek. “There will be more to come on that,” he added.

Mooz was a member of the “The Future of Work: Evolving Office Towers” NAREE panel that included Kristopher Harman, vice president of Woodbine Development; Austin Studio Director Jennifer Mejia of global design firm Gensler; and, Brian Harrington, Chief Experience Officer for CBRE’s Hana, a unit that assists institutional property owners meet the growing demand for flexible office space solutions.

Moderated by Candace Carlisle of CoStar News, the panel agreed that most workers today don’t like working in a building without a coworking component and real estate owners whose products don’t have a coworking element are a disadvantage.

In today’s marketplace, added Mejia,  there is no one size fits all office space design, demand is increasing for more open work spaces.  “It’s part of getting employees to work and to collaborate with each other,” she said. “One of hurdles we’re seeing is a lack of flexibility designed into original spaces of many buildings. Clients are looking for flexibility, not just folks sitting in a work space.”

She adds that Gensler crafted the global headquarters of Yeti, an Austin-based producer of premium outdoor gear that featured plain honest materials and outdoor hues, and included a fire pit, an outdoor band stage/workplace, a brew house – and nothing that feels “corporate.”

Harrington said the creation of flexible space is here to stay, “something that will be over 10% of CRE over the next few years,” he added. “We think we’ve delivered a solution set for high growth companies.”

The first Hana unit he said is PwC Tower at Park District in Dallas, Texas, a new development project by MetLife Investment Management and Trammell Crow Company that is expected to open this year.

Developers today are bringing different parts of employees life to office with offerings such as chefs and health clubs among others, added Kristopher Harman of Woodbine.  “Our DNA is hospitality and we are now looking at how to bring elements of a hotel into an office buildings,” he said.

In the Los Angeles area — where companies are interested in creating  content –- Woodbine is renovating a Doubletree hotel and constructing office space next door for the creative content  clients. ‘We took the hotel parking lot and entitled it for creative office space,” he explained.  “We have the Doubletree hotel under renovation and when it is finished and the new building is completed, we will have agreements for employees to use fitness center,  media space, book conference space in hotel. It will be a seamless process.”

While a continued drive for flexible office space is expected to continue, it won’t engulf the market.  “I think about 10 % of the office space will be flexible,” said Harrington.  “I don’t think it’s ever going to tip over. There will always be traditional, 10 year leases.”

June 28, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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