Overview Office Design

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In the words of office design consultant and author Francis Duffy, "The office building is one of the great icons of the twentieth century. Office towers dominate the skylines of cities in every continent… [As] the most visible index of economic activity, of social, technological, and financial progress, they have come to symbolize much of what this century has been about." This is true because the office building is the most tangible reflection of a profound change in employment patterns that has occurred over the last one hundred years. In present-day America, northern Europe, and Japan, at least 50 percent of the working population is employed in office settings as compared to 5 percent of the population at the beginning of the 20th century.

Federal Building—Oakland, CA
(Courtesy of Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz )
Interestingly, the life-cycle cost distribution for a typical service organization is about 3 to 4 percent for the facility, 4 percent for operations, 1 percent for furniture, and 90 to 91 percent for salaries. As such, if the office structure can leverage the 3 to 4 percent expenditure on facilities to improve the productivity of the workplace, it can have a very dramatic effect on personnel contributions representing the 90 to 91 percent of the service organization's costs. To accomplish this impact, the buildings must benefit from an integrated design approach that focuses on meeting a list of objectives. Through integrated design, a new generation of high-performance office buildings is beginning to emerge that offers owners and users increased worker satisfaction and productivity, improved health, greater flexibility, and enhanced energy and environmental performance. Typically, these projects apply life-cycle analysis to optimize initial investments in architectural design, systems selection, and building construction. Back to top

Building Attributes
An office building must have flexible and technologically-advanced working environments that are safe, healthy, comfortable, durable, aesthetically-pleasing, and accessible. It must be able to accommodate the specific space and equipment needs of the tenant. Special attention should be made to the selection of interior finishes and art installations, particularly in entry spaces, conference rooms and other areas with public access. A. Types of Spaces

An office building incorporates a number of space types to meet the needs of staff and visitors. These may include: Offices
* Offices: May be private or semi-private acoustically and/or visually. * Conference Rooms
Employee/Visitor Support Spaces
* Convenience Store, Kiosk, or Vending Machines
* Lobby: Central location for building directory, schedules, and general information * Atria or Common Space: Informal, multi-purpose recreation and social gathering space * Cafeteria or Dining Hall

* Private Toilets or Restrooms
* Child Care Centers
* Physical Fitness Area
* Interior or Surface Parking Areas
Administrative Support Spaces
* Administrative Offices: May be private or semi-private acoustically and/or visually. Operation and Maintenance Spaces
* General Storage: For items such as stationery, equipment, and instructional materials. * Food Preparation Area or Kitchen
* Computer/Information Technology (IT) Closets. See WBDG Automated Data Processing Center for PC System related information. * Maintenance Closets
B. Important Design Considerations
Typical features of Office Buildings include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below. Cost-Effective

The high-performance office should be evaluated using life-cycle economic and material evaluation models. In some cases, owners need to appreciate that optimizing building performance will require a willingness to invest more initially to save...
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