How Can Developers and Designers Create Better Value for Tenants?

December 31, 1969

Developers and tenants generally work quite separately in the procurement phase of a new workplace. As an architect, what’s your role in all of this? How can developers and designers create better value for tenants? 

The benefit of designing a building based on the tenant’s business and cultural drivers is proven – just look at ANZ in Melbourne or 700 Bourke Street. Both projects are a true reflection of the businesses they house. As designers, we work with tenants and developers. So, how can we bring them closer together to deliver better value for tenants? That’s a question we have to consider. It needs to go beyond collaboration and become a partnership between all parties. 

Obstacles do exist though. A question for big tenants is, how can they maintain commercial competitiveness through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process but still have access to the design so they can drive outcomes to suit their business needs? Currently, an RFP arrives and we busily seek out teams. Tenants are kept at arms-reach during this process and the development teams are working blind, to an extent, on a brief that couldn’t possibly tell the whole story about what the tenant requires. We need to change this process to be more focused on providing design as well as financial value. Talking directly to the tenant – a face-to-face- briefing – to gauge a true understanding of the business would create a much better outcome. Obviously, time constraints are a problem with this scenario but there are surely other solutions. And we need to find them. Consultation with the tenant needs to happen during the procurement process – much earlier than it currently does. 

The idea that ‘integrated fitout’ – where base building contracts and fit-out contracts are combined – achieves true value is, I believe, misguided. It really just means integrated construction and, if analyzed properly, it’s hard to define the value to the tenant. Truly integrated design – where developer and tenant work on the design together – should be the aspiration. And this is still a rare scenario in our industry. 

Where is our industry heading?

I think Andrew Whiteside from Dexus Property Group summed this up perfectly when he shared his views at our conference: “Work is anywhere, anytime – BOUNDARYLESS”. 

A workplace building is defined by the experience it offers. And its success is measured by how it brings people together and how it makes people feel engaged and connected to the business.

Workplace Architecture