The pandemic affected construction projects across the globe—but maybe nowhere more significantly than the San Francisco Bay Area. In the US, the Bay Area had some of the most stringent restrictions, which impacted schedules, materials, and even clients’ design decisions.
That was certainly the case for Autodesk’s new downtown San Francisco office, built by BCCI Construction. The 117,000 sf project spans four floors with a three-story staircase that unites the open office spaces, meeting areas, break rooms, and special amenities across the workplace.
Two months into construction, the pandemic put the project on hold for roughly seven weeks. The Autodesk team took the opportunity to survey their employees, make adjustments to the design, and implement COVID-safe features such as plexiglass desk shields, contactless fixtures and devices, anti-bacterial film on high-touch devices, digital “community board” monitors to remind employees of protocols, and more. They also made the decision to lower the overall office capacity by 30 percent to support proper physical distancing in desk and collaboration areas.
“Some of those adjustments were minor, but some, like new furniture layouts, did impact things like electrical configurations,” says BCCI project manager Max Heath. “We had to pull together as a project team to work through decisions virtually while the jobsite was shut down.”
BCCI had conducted full 3D scans of the existing space before demolition, which helped not only remove potential conflicts and challenges in the initial phases of the work but also better manage those very kinds of adjustments. The team also used Autodesk’s best-inbreed, cloud-based project management system, BIM 360, for data management and collaboration, meaning all of the RFIs, submittals, construction documents, schedules, drawings, and other records were available to the project team during the shutdown and after for the full project duration.
“Tenant improvement projects rarely get that level of laser scanning since project schedules tend to be tight. We knew those scans would make the MEP coordination process more efficient, and our overall approach to the project with virtual design and construction tools proved critical to helping us get back and up and running effectively.”Max Heath, Project Manager, BCCI Construction
Pulling together to work through the continued COVID-related challenges—from staggered trade schedules to manufacturing delays—the project team was able to bring Autodesk’s collaborative vision to life. In addition to the pandemic-related adjustments, the new office includes a number of unique amenities for employees, from a music studio and game room to a gym and shower area.
Autodesk was also mindful of sustainability, incorporating electric scooter charging stations, compost options, and an abundance of plants and other natural elements. In the four corners of every floor, custom wooden “trees,” rise up from the floor and parallel the ceiling to provide an element of biophilia while light fixtures, suspended from the ceiling, hang between the tree “limbs.” All of these special features aim to reflect the concepts employees noted they valued most during the survey process.
“The pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on how offices will be designed and operated in the future. Autodesk saw the development of their offices at 300 Mission as an opportunity to explore these new possibilities and rethink its design to support the health and wellbeing of its employees for years to come.”Wendy Peterson, Project Executive, BCCI Construction
Kena David, Sustainability Manager | BCCI Construction
The millennial generation is the first generation to grow up with mobile phones and ready access to the Internet. They’ve had the luxury of answers to virtually any question at their fingertips. Their lives have always been digital and connected.
This generation—now the largest in American history—has proved to be the impetus for many changes in the workplace, including the way buildings and offices are designed, operated, and marketed. The influx of millennials into the workplace and their affinity for technology has also shifted the way in which we think about our work environment. The real estate industry has seen a movement toward open office plans that inspire collaboration and offer flexibility and versatility, as well as work spaces that are in closer proximity to public transportation hubs, and an increase in urban-suburban communities. The classic American suburb with a long commute to the office is less appealing to millennials, and the 9-to-5 workday has shifted, with flexible schedules and remote working options becoming the norm.
The worlds of architecture, construction, and real estate have grown and adapted to meet these challenges put forth by millennials. Known for being civic-minded and environmentally conscious, millennials often make work and lifestyle choices that align with their values. For example, the well-known LEED certification established by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is increasingly a factor when millennials choose a place to live or work. (LEED certification is an indication that a company or building owner is highly attuned to how its physical operations affect the environment.)
Millennial-inspired attention to matters of health in the workplace is reflected in a new certification program dedicated human health and wellness in buildings. The Delos WELL Building Standard has married best practices in the built environment with medical research around what makes people happy, healthy, and productive while spending time indoors. It is the first certification of its kind to holistically integrate specific conditions into architecture, design, and construction to enhance the health and well-being of building occupants. Delos developed this standard to uphold human sustainability and to transform schools, homes, offices, and other indoor facilities into healthy environments.
This post has been adapted from an article originally published for CREW San Francisco’s The VIEW (4th Quarter 2016). Click here to read the full article.
Many Millennials will tell you that there are a number of misconceptions about their generation. Frequently depicted as a technology addicted and entitled group who fear commitment, it might seem that millennials aren’t the hardest working, goal-centric, or disciplined – at least compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
Members of Commercial Real Estate Women San Francisco (CREW-SF), including Alicia Deschamps, RIM Architects; AJ Jacobsen, CBRE; Erica Levine, ARUP; Verushka Doshi, Haworth; and Kena David, BCCI Construction Company, tackle the topic of millennials in the workforce in the article, “Millennial Mythbusters,” and consider both truths and fallacies of generational stereotypes.
Myth #5: Millennials avoid offices so that they can sit at home and be lazy.
BCCI Sustainability Manager, Kena David and Erica Levine, Energy Consultant at Arup address millennials being labeled as “lazy.” While acknowledging the basis for that idea, they also maintain that it is all wrong! “Many millennial-dominated companies (such as the ever hip start-up’s) allow employees to work outside of the office and standard working hours, reducing the amount of time that employees spend at their desks. This can give off the impression that millennials are lazy slackers who can’t drag themselves out of bed.”
“Flexible working arrangements may actually increase employee effectiveness, allowing more work to get done in the same amount of time. Research indicates that working in an office is actually quite inefficient.”Kena David, Sustainability Manager, BCCI Construction and Erica Levine, Energy Consultant, Arup
David goes on to note that the ability to work remotely increases productivity due to fewer distractions and interruptions that often occur in an office environment. Basically, having the latitude to work in or out of the office and during hours that are not “the standard,” gives millennials the opportunity to perform at their most optimal.
While evident that millennials are different than the generations that have come before them – whether it comes to goals, tactics, or work style – as the largest population in the workforce, they carry significant influence in the future of work environments as well as work-life balance policies.