The Afterlife Opportunity of Office Buildings.

Form follows Opportunity…it does not follow function

In a 24/7 world, radical agility has become the Holy Grail for both cities and the buildings that occupy them. New business models around shared space and co-working companies require that a building always be on. But such models create space that also blurs the boundaries between work and play, becoming a microcosm of the mixed-use communities in which they operate. Companies like WeWork and Knotel don’t simply offer shared office space. They also host events, salons, education seminars, summer camps, lectures, exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, concerts, meet-ups, and other public gatherings. The building becomes a living room to the city, showcasing a tenant’s brand while simultaneously embodying its community. In some cases, the landlord is there as a partner who contributes capital and shares in the tenant’s risks. In other situations, the owner shuns the co-working occupant as a parasite who brings hundreds of strangers flowing through the building.

Whether it spurs enthusiasm or not, the diverse and unpredictable patterns of co-working space can often wear a body out. A building that never sleeps can become one that develops problems under pressure. As down time becomes unpredictable, a building must learn to regulate itself. Through sensors that monitor occupancy, the building can tweak its own heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in real time. It can diagnose its own problems, and arrange its own fix, identify friends and scream a warning when there’s a foe.

Such intelligence creates opportunities for new revenue streams and a renewed relevance that goes beyond what even tenants can create. The building stands guard on not just itself but its community, collecting data that can be used to address climate change, create cost efficiencies, monitor security, and work to enhance human happiness. Where you work will increasingly be able to tell you how you work, and identify ways to eliminate stress and improve productivity. As it engages in a dialogue with the surrounding community, the building starts to look like it might even have a soul.

Buildings and Spaces

  • Buildings and spaces do not express predetermined functions but rather express a condition and a context.
  • The radicalization of mixed use layering in new city buildings suggests ambiguity rather than specificity. Buildings that are able to be agile in this way have a better chance of long-term sustainability and relevance.
  • Mixed use facilities and dissimilar functions rubbing up against each other creates innovation opportunities typically seen in contemporary education and research buildings.
  • Agility becomes a measure of efficiency and an essential component of the building feasibility and whole-life analysis.

447 Collins Street

A true merger between city and building (with multiple building typologies), wrapping over, over and into itself. Extrapolation and analysis of five individual typologies that extrude the city grid creates a completely new built form in the city and represents optimal mixed use opportunities.

The commercial podium on the western edge extends to a height of 39 meters with reference to the adjacent heritage buildings and visible through the center of the site. The eastern tower pulls back from Collins Street to allow for a new city park to be framed by the commercial podium. The residential/hotel volume on the south side moves north to open up southeast views for the commercial tenants and create additional terrace amenities for each residence.

Taken as a whole, an emphasis has been placed on how the texture at the ground plane, specifically as it relates to the immediate Streetscape, and is  brought up the building through a vertical reading.


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