Enhancing Work Environments Through Creative Offices

Strategies that are making a big difference in today's fast-changing business landscape.

Elevar Plano creative office campus

SMU’s 16-acre Plano, Texas, site is being redeveloped and converted into an office and tech hub called Elevar Plano. Rendering courtesy of developer Alvarez & Marsal Capital Real Estate

In the midst of a constantly evolving professional landscape, the traditional paradigm of office campuses is undergoing a profound metamorphosis. The conventional concept of workspaces is giving way to dynamic, versatile and innovation-driven environments that transcend traditional office settings.

According to CommercialEdge, nearly 30 million square feet of office space with creative components was completed in the U.S. between January 2020 and October 2023, with an additional 7.7 million square feet underway as of September.

These modern office campuses are no longer mere static spaces where employees clock in and out. They’ve transformed into versatile ecosystems that stimulate collaboration, creativity and productivity. The shift is from regimented cubicles to flexible, open-plan spaces, and from standard meeting rooms to vibrant communal areas that foster networking and idea exchange.

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Moreover, offices today go beyond the standard nine-to-five routine, providing amenities that cater to a diverse array of employee needs and work preferences. This evolution in office design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about redefining the very essence of the workplace, encouraging innovation, adaptability and a sense of community in the modern work environment.

Crafting the creative office

Creative office spaces are reinventing the workplace. Transformations such as the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC)—initially designed in 1968 by architects Robert Gatje and Marcel Breuer as an IBM research campus—are becoming more common. BRiC, the largest single-office facility in Florida spanning over 1.7 million square feet, was once a bustling hub, accommodating up to 10,000 employees at its peak. However, in 1996, IBM sold the campus, leading to a decline in its utilization over subsequent decades, with occupancy levels remaining stagnant at approximately 60 percent.

The pattern persisted until CP Group took ownership five years ago. Since then, a remarkable makeover has taken place, rebranding and revitalizing the once underused and outdated office development into a thriving workplace ecosystem, currently boasting 92 percent occupancy. More than 6,000 individuals now work at BRiC, with 18 national and nine regional tenants calling it home, including seven of Palm Beach County’s top employers such as Modernizing Medicine, Bluegreen Vacations, Kroger, Canon and Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

This notable evolution isn’t unique to BRiC alone. Los Angeles-based Alvarez & Marsal Capital Real Estate—known for reimagining various office spaces—is very active in converting obsolete buildings into vibrant, innovative creative office projects across several U.S. markets.

The company’s recent project in the north Dallas area, Elevar Plano, involves revitalizing the former SMU at Plano campus into a best-in-class creative office campus. This transformative project is located in the Legacy Business Park in Plano, Texas, and encompasses four two-story buildings totaling 204,000 square feet across more than 16 acres.

creative office

The conventional office model is shifting toward a hospitality-oriented approach. BRiC’s lobby stands as a testimony to these values. Image courtesy of CP Group

Another venture in Alvarez & Marsal’s repertoire is the Max Tech Center in Boulder County, Colo. This project was an ambitious endeavor that involved refurbishing a 475,000-square-foot former semiconductor manufacturing facility spanning across almost 24 acres and transforming it into a contemporary R&D, life science and tech campus.

Significant enhancements encompassed the redesign of primary and subsidiary entrances, a complete exterior repaint, roof replacement, renovating private courtyard areas into outdoor meeting spaces directly linked to tenant areas and the widespread integration of skylights. These modifications resulted in an extensive overhaul, effectively modernizing the property.

“We also introduced a best-in-class amenity center that includes 16,000 square feet of indoor lounges, conferencing and gym facilities, along with a highly curated 20,000-square-foot common outdoor amenity that allows for tenants to take advantage of the 300 days of sunshine that Boulder County is so famous for,” Adam Weinbaum, managing director with Alvarez & Marsal, told Commercial Property Executive.

With a strong foothold in the creative office sector, the firm’s attention also extends to life science and R&D strategies within the San Diego and Silicon Valley markets. Its approach involves integrating innovative office elements into these spaces, introducing new and unique features to laboratories and R&D structures.

Innovating today for a better tomorrow

Max Tech Campus features modern communal spaces and innovative amenities across a vast facility. Rendering courtesy of Alvarez & Marsal

In their quest to redefine office spaces and attract users, companies seem to be in a race to create layouts that go beyond work, prioritizing occupants’ health and well-being.

At Elevar Plano the emphasis is on natural light, fresh air and indoor-outdoor connectivity. By eliminating outdated elements, expanding window glass lines, integrating skylights and incorporating second-floor balconies, Alvarez & Marsal created a vibrant 1-acre outdoor plaza with shade structures and communal terraces, supporting an environment that stands out in the Plano area.

“Drawing from our extensive experience, creative office spaces are often characterized by the integration of technological advancements, fostering diverse settings that promote collaboration, productivity and innovation among employees,” Principal Evan Pearlman noted.

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The Max Tech Center in Boulder County also underwent a comprehensive transformation and now includes high-speed Wi-Fi, electric vehicle charging stations, fitness centers, modern communal spaces and contemporary amenities across the vast facility.

BRiC also has an array of innovative features such as autonomous grab-and-go services, art exhibitions within common areas, a tech museum, wellness centers, STEAM labs and flexible workspaces. Moreover, the office of the future, as envisioned by BRiC, houses multiple coffee shops, diverse dining options, fitness clubs and hosts various community events and leadership programs, underscoring a shift toward a more holistic and comprehensive work environment.

“From an infrastructure standpoint, it creates a highly secure and durable campus, which is key for mission-critical organizations,” Michael Perrette, general manager at CP Group, explained. “From an experience standpoint, it allows us to provide amenities and modern conveniences so our tenants don’t have to and can instead focus on growing their own businesses while we support them in attracting and retaining quality talent,” Perrette added.

The element of social engagement

In the dynamic landscape of the modern business world, creative office campuses play a pivotal role in not just attracting but also retaining top-tier talent. The ever-changing needs of tomorrow’s workforce are at the core of developers’ considerations.

“We aim to create compelling and inspiring environments that make office spaces more than just a place of work,” said Pearlman.

Elevar Plano features an amenity hub comprising 16,000 square feet, housing indoor lounges, conference spaces and gym facilities. Rendering courtesy of Alvarez & Marsal

Offices are now a place for social engagement, so developing well-connected and easily accessible campuses is critical. Acknowledging the importance of walkability and access to amenities, all the spaces at Alvarez & Marsal’s Elevar Plano are tailored to enhance tenant satisfaction: From high-class tenant lounges to fitness centers, outdoor plazas, pet-friendly parks and various meeting areas, the environment fosters networking, collaboration and rejuvenation.

“The traditional office concept is evolving, leaning toward a more hospitality-driven model and focusing on comfort, flexibility and employee well-being,” Pearlman said.

Looking ahead, the future of office campuses will revolve around occupant experience, adaptability and customization. The key will lie in adapting to the constantly evolving preferences and needs of tenants, ultimately ensuring office spaces remain as enticing and accommodating as possible. In this pursuit, the very essence of creative office campuses will continue to expand, catering to the dynamic and diverse expectations of the workforce in the ever-developing modern era.

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