Biophilic Design in the Workplace

A new corporate trend has been changing the landscape of traditional office space even prior to the onset of coronavirus.  Workplace designers have begun including biophilic elements to improve both wellness and productivity.  When L.L.Bean created the first outdoor coworking space in June 2018 to showcase its “Be An Outsider at Work” Project, it featured individual workspaces, conference rooms and cycling desks right in NYC’s Madison Square Park.   Fast forward to 2020 and the coronavirus, and the desire as well as need for outdoor working spaces is more prevalent than ever.

L.L.Bean's "Be An Outsider at Work" campaign

LL Bean "Be An Outsider Campaign"

Designers are now bringing the indoors out rather than bringing the outdoors in.  WELL certified neighborhood projects are integrating wellness into everyday life and prioritizing well-being in the workplace.  USGBC describes the WELL Building Standard® as a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.  Managed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), WELL is rooted in a body of medical research that studies the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90% of our time, and the health and wellness of its occupants. 

In an interview by AllWork.Space, Allison Zofan, Co-Founder of ootBox explains A healthy workplace used to be perceived as a benefit, now it is a necessity.  Access to fresh air, nature, light and any other option to give employees the confidence that their work environment is as safe as it can be for their health will be the primary driver in a return to work strategy.  We see more and more companies pursuing WELL certification – one school of thought is that WELL is the “new” LEED – of which access to natural light and green space is a significant factor.”

WaterStreet Tampa Project designed by Gensler
Designed by Gensler, 400 Channelside Drive features a 30,000 square foot landscaped sky garden.
Water Street Tampa is the world’s first neighborhood design to earn a WELL Design & Operations certification.  With the goal of being the “healthiest city in the world,” Water Street Tampa is a $3 billion plus, 56-acre neighborhood project located in downtown Tampa dedicated to a sustainable neighborhood comprised of residential, office, retail and hotel spaces.  While the project is currently under phase construction, it unveiled the opening of the District Cooling Plant in January 2020.  The building’s innovative system frees up rooftop space and is estimated to be 30%-40% more efficient than individual chillers.  The District Cooling Plant produces and distributes cold water to provide sustainable air conditioning to most of the buildings that make up Water Street Tampa.

The most recent development at Water Street Tampa was the September 21, 2020 announcement of the “topping out” for a 23-story residential building.  The building located at 1011 East Cumberland Avenue is “inspired by the unique architectural history of Florida and the art deco and modernist influences of its waterfront cities.”

Over at 1001 Water Street, a 20-story mixed-use building with approximately 380,000 sq. feet of office space and retail has been under construction since June 2019.  The sustainably designed building will be both WELL Core and Shell certified as well as LEED Certified (a first for the region) and is slated to be completed late summer 2021. 

“The start of construction at 1001 Water Street signifies the beginning of a new chapter for workplaces. It is not just the first new trophy office tower in Tampa in decades, but the first office of its kind,” said James Nozar, CEO of Strategic Property Partners. “We are seeking to reimagine the workplace, where employees, their experiences, and overall wellbeing are at the heart of the design and functionality of the space.”

According to the Water Street Tampa press release, “the building, designed by COOKFOX Architect will feature their signature “biophilic design philosophy—which has been shown to reduce stress, enhance creativity, improve well-being and expedite healing.”

Stay tuned for more developments in outdoor office design and continued progress on Water Street Tampa.



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