The goal of “The Office Building of the Future” organized by NAIOP – the Commercial Real Estate Development Association – was to create a design that would allow the highest and best use for office users, meet space utilization trends, inform urban planning approaches, and building technologies in 2020.
We selected a challenging site near the beltway in Tysons Corner, Virginia. This area is outside of a traditional downtown or central business district, so it lacks a strong pedestrian realm, but is developing very quickly due to its proximity to the Capital Beltway and lies within the Washington Metropolitan Area.
We expected that technology would advance to a level where people would telecommute leading to a lack of need for office space. This led us to suggest that office building would have to transform itself to a multifamily residential or hotel building or be rendered obsolete. We split the traditional 120 feet office floor plate with 40 feet lease spans, to two floorplates that are 65 feet wide and can be converted to multifamily or hotel use.
The sculptural form of the building was derived from optimizing the surface of the skin exposed to solar energy using parametric modelling. The façade consisted of shading fins that also were solar energy collectors. Urban farms and healing gardens were designed every few floors, allowing the building to attract occupants with these amenities. The street levels have retail and conference areas, the roof of these lower levels is designed as parkland thus creating urgently needed green space and a public realm in Tysons. The proffer mechanism would fund these spaces in exchange for extra height, as was already happening in Tysons in 2012.
Our hypothesis that advances in technology would reduce the need for office space is borne out. Everyone is working from home due to stay at home policies. The thin floor plates allow deeper natural light penetration increasing the wellness of occupants. The urban farming trend is in its infancy but expected to continue. Design of healing gardens along with urban farming is expected to enhance the human experience. A detailed cost model was developed for the project. We forecasted a trend for off-site manufacturing which would allow speedier construction. Architects can lead through anticipating change and building resiliency in buildings, thereby increasing the value of design professionals in society.