Trend setters set trends, and the new corporate headquarters of Facebook, Google and Apple will certainly inspire design elements that will find expression in other office sites. Of course, no one scouting for a new space for their company expects to find a circular building that looks like a spaceship, but those looking for office space will value these other features.
Real Estate Plans
Open floor plans is perhaps the easiest element for an existing office space to incorporate. The concept has been growing over the past few years already, but the corporate headquarters take the idea to a new level. An open floor plan is intended to foster more collaboration between those working in the space. It is also intended to promote an egalitarian spirit that encourages everyone to appropriately value the contribution others make to the success of the organization. At the new Apple headquarters the amount of glazing is estimated to include more than 3 ½ miles of curved glass. The new Google building has so much glass that the upper floors will not need artificial lighting to supplement the sun. Of course, glass-skinned office buildings have been standard designs for years already, but the combination of glass with an open floor plan allows the light to penetrate to the interior of the building.
The Apple headquarters address the problem of passive heat gain through the use of hollow concrete that does not retain as much heat while providing the same structural support. It is also said to be the largest naturally ventilated building in the world. Building engineers may be able to reconfigure a building’s HVAC system to allow at least some natural ventilation parts of the year.
These first two elements create a problem for most modern buildings because they significantly increase the heat load during the summer months. Other glass buildings such as the State of Illinois building in downtown Chicago are notorious for sweltering interior temperatures. The energy required to cool the building runs completely counter to the low-carbon footprint of the corporate headquarters.
Smart Office Roofing and Amenities
While it is not possible to replicate the graceful, sloping roof of Google’s headquarters, the roof of any building is a great place for a little showmanship. Adding either solar panels or greenery to help cool the interior is a step in the right direction. Either addition may qualify for local property tax credits. Either will also increase the perception that a building has a smaller carbon footprint.
Before these new buildings, it was rare to find a corporate headquarters that captured, stored, and reused rainwater. While green roofs that featured plants made use of rainwater and reduced runoff, the idea of reusing rainwater is a unique development. Fortunately, many modern office buildings already capture rainwater in retention ponds for flood control. Finding a creative use for this water is the next step.
Many office buildings already include a workout space or gym with exercise machines. Of course, the headquarters of these three companies take this to a higher level, as is the case with cafeterias and other creature comforts. These include quiet spaces and meditation rooms. Many of these can be added to existing buildings with little cost or effort.
Landscaping has always been important, but the new corporate headquarters are located in a veritable forest, or, in the case of Apple, an orchard. The number of trees on each of the three campuses is astonishing. While the expense of transplanting mature trees may be prohibitive, any planting will capture the ethos of nature. Running or walking paths through native plantings touch on the exercise and meditative aspects of the building as well.