4 Ways Class A Space is Evolving to Fit Tenant Needs
The variation and nature of Class A office is changing, including the type of building, specific design characteristics and location. Developers are striving to further enhance each design element and incorporate as many of them as possible. The Class A evolution is evident in markets experiencing an uptick in office development, and it's expected to filter into other markets as the U.S. economy continues to recover.
- Developers are incorporating more access to natural light.
Having an abundance of natural light is good, but the ultimate design going forward includes floor-to-ceiling glass and nine-and-a-half-foot or greater finished ceiling heights wherever possible to allow for the maximum amount of daylight.
- Daylight is reaching deeper into the space.
In some cases, developers are trimming distance from the exterior wall to the core of the building, or bay depth, from 45 feet to 38 or 40 feet. Studies have shown that access to daylight improves employee productivity. Many developers are incorporating open plans filled with workstations featuring short walls and outer offices with glass fronts to further disperse the natural light.
- Sustainability standards are consistently increasing.
Previously, it was a target to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), then LEED Silver, and now LEED Gold. Although top certification levels have become easier to achieve over the past few years with advancements in mechanical and electrical systems, the bar continues to be raised. The USGBC increased its certification standards with the implementation of the new LEED v4 rating systems, which hold buildings to more stringent requirements.
- Uptick in midrise projects using tiltwall structural systems.
Tiltwall construction has traditionally been viewed as a less expensive way to develop an office building focused on value-driven, high-density users. However, features and finishes in the latest generation of tiltwall buildings match those in high-rise Class A product.
Developers and owners that incorporate elevated standards in office projects will outperform buildings completed as little as five years ago. Upgraded Class A buildings will be the most successful in attracting savvy tenants.
Carleton Riser serves as managing director of development at Transwestern. His team helped design Westgate, an office complex in Houston that serves as an example of a tiltwall building utilizing features and structural components often seen in traditional Class A projects. More details on this project and the evolution of Class A space can be found in Transwestern's Insights + Trends + Opportunities.