Optimizing Your Repositioning Project, Part 3: Westgroup Designs aided Hines in developing and implementing a design solution aimed at attracting flex-office and creative tenants to their Canyon Corporate Center that would reflect their focus on energy efficiency and versatility.

A global real estate investment firm with a presence in 19 countries and a portfolio totaling 531 properties, Hines asked Westgroup to provide a strategic redevelopment vision for their 155,000 sf multi-tenant office/warehouse building, in order to create one of the most unique and differentiated office environments in the Anaheim Canyon submarket.

We renovated both the main lobby and warehouse space for increased energy efficiency and “light and bright” appeal by first studying the opportunities for daylighting before replacing and adding light fixtures in each of the spaces.

Creating a sense of arrival was a key focus for the building’s main entrance. Two rows of tall, modern LED light posts rhythmically lead visitors from the parking area toward the main entrance. Exterior entry improvements included replacing the ubiquitous reflective glazing with dual-glazed, high-performance, clear glass units to permit views into the revitalized double-height lobby space beyond. The entrance, newly flanked by silver Alucobond-wrapped columns, reinforces a sense of outdoor-to-indoor transparency.

The 30-year-old lobby was repositioned as a two-story, modern collaborative meeting space with timeless natural finishes framing mountain views. Replacing fluorescent general lighting with LED fixtures at the ceiling was just the beginning: strategically integrated LED pendants and flush, linear fixtures highlight the natural-toned finishes selected to graphically represent the hills and plains of Anaheim’s 1800’s cityscape while recalling Anaheim’s original focus as the industrial center of the County.

The dark, 25,000-square foot warehouse space was converted into a bright and inspiring industrial office space. Two rows of new punched openings glazed with glare-resistant, high-performance glass boldly punctuate the existing tilt-up exterior walls while allowing for insertion of a future mezzanine between the new upper and lower windows. An ordered array of new skylights, strategically placed to accommodate multiple existing roof-mounted mechanical units, maximize daylighting. Furthering the natural light-filled industrial aesthetic, new aluminum and glass roll-up garage doors access adjacent patio and courtyard spaces. Our introduction of new efficient glazing and skylights results in little need for artificial lighting during the day. Complemented by enhanced roof deck insulation, the former warehouse’s energy costs have been reduced significantly.

Throughout the office areas, available tenant spaces were refreshed to attract progressive, creative firms looking for wide open, bright space with industrial appeal. Augmenting the efficiency of the interior spaces, underutilized outdoor areas - including the entry plaza, side patio and a 7,000 sf enclosed courtyard - were remodeled and activated as new amenity spaces, efficiently illuminated with LED fixtures around functional gathering and feature areas. Offering tenant access during the day and evening, these enhanced landscape spaces extend the opportunities for tenants to dine, lounge, collaborate and socialize.

Our resulting design effectively combines beauty with intelligence, leveraging the benefit of natural resources and incorporating energy efficient solutions to reduce operational costs while maximizing the user experience.

Optimizing Your Repositioning Project, Part 2: Considering logistics and holistic design strategies implemented in tandem.

Owners, landlords and tenants who contemplate remodeling occupied space often delay for fear that construction will be too disruptive - restricting access, reducing productivity and making their lives miserable for longer than they can tolerate. And when the scale of reinvestment includes both major interior renewal and site renovations, a project can have hundreds of moving parts to coordinate. Remodeling a fully-occupied building undeniably impacts the working environment, but strategic advice and direction by an experienced design and construction team regarding logistics, sequencing and phasing can significantly mitigate Owner concerns and effects on tenants, offering the rewards of few obstacles during the process and a fresh, new look at completion: a veritable win-win.

Westgroup is currently working with an Owner who understands and welcomes this strategic approach to upgrading, updating and remodeling all common areas and outdoor amenity spaces of their more than 80% leased, 10-story, 213,000 SF corporate office tower in Orange. Design and construction choreography is key: discussion of multiple phases, multiple permits and strategic management of people and work flow was the first order of business.

Comprehensive enhancements will be both functional and aesthetic, from energy and lighting upgrades and restroom accessibility to a new, modern appearance for the dated ground floor. Including main lobbies, ten floors of common corridors and restrooms, a conferencing facility, fitness center and hospitality/food service, the remodel will also address outdoor seating and feature areas, culminating with a new and welcoming canopy to frame the entry.

Rather than completing the design and construction on a piecemeal basis, the benefit to approaching the remodel holistically is the opportunity to find synergies between amenity spaces and needs. Integrating areas of the conference center, break-out space, food service and fitness center with redesign of individual activity areas reveals opportunities for great connection and flow between them. Re-planning these areas together also contributes to more effective circulation and system efficiency, allowing for larger, more flexible and attractive user space: great for landlords and appealing to discriminating tenants.

Strategies for Optimizing Your Repositioning Project, Part 1: Create increased value by transforming common areas into adjacent amenity spaces that function as extensions of the primary workspace, offering benefits to tenants without having to leave the building.

The OC market continues to see competition for attractive, progressive and flexible primary workspace as “repositioning” remains a favored real estate strategy. When owners and landlords initiate an overhaul of common areas to support collaborative activities and lifestyle amenities, both established firms and start-ups can often be enticed to take less office space per person in exchange for these updated, flexible areas that are shared with fellow tenants. With lines blurred between work and play, the positive perception of work/life balance engendered by these amenity spaces can be a differentiator as firm leaders seek to recruit and retain staff in a competitive marketplace, suggesting that the contemporary work environment is all about creating the ultimate inner-office experience.

Technology is key to many of these progressive amenities. Savvy clients, familiar with flexible workplace planning concepts, already know terms like “hot desking”, “hoteling” and “virtual office”. Information access in these new common areas must also gratify immediate needs, whether for interactive wayfinding, live news, promotion or knowledge sharing, and rapidly changing technology influences their design a step further. A space, facility or amenity featuring technology must be designed with the flexibility to allow for equipment upgrades, monitor size changes, orientation and mobility if it’s to continue exceeding the expectations of tomorrow’s tenants. And while a campus environment can offer everything from cafes to fitness centers, bocce courts and medical clinics, we note a strong desire to position amenities immediately adjacent to tenant space so that they function as an effective extension of the primary workspace.

In a recent concept design, Westgroup recommended this strategy to one of our corporate clients. To modernize common areas within a pair of high rise towers originally built in the 1980s, Westgroup enhanced their visual appeal by substituting wood veneered panels for the original dark granite interior walls and matte finished stone tile for the highly-polished floor, removing associated ornamental stone and metal detailing, softening the existing sharp angles, and infusing the spaces with both natural and diffused light. Removing thick, ornamental, stone-clad columns throughout the second-floor lobby revealed a larger, brighter, more open and flexible space, perfect as a shared tenant commons for lounging, meeting, collaboration, game room and more. Creating “touch down” as well as appointed activity spaces with both high-tech and high-touch features offers new and unparalleled value to tenants, who will be able to enjoy these benefits without leaving their building.

WD’s founder and CEO, PariSima Hassani, shares insights for women on forging career paths, breaking glass ceilings and empowering women in the workplace.

WD’s founder and CEO, PariSima Hassani, had the pleasure of speaking at IAW (Iranian-American Women) Foundation’s 10th Annual Leadership Conference. She spoke at the “Career Paths… Opportunities and Challenges” workshop, specifically on strategies for women in the workplace. She has a diverse perspective as an entrepreneur, executive, first-generation immigrant, and former working mother in a male-dominated industry (Architecture, Engineering, Construction). PariSima shared a lot of insight for women on how to forge a path towards a fulfilling career, rise and succeed as a leader, and break down barriers in the workplace. Her advice to career women can be summed up into the following:

Find Your Passion. Cliché maybe, but truly essential. I urge you to find joy first above all while forging your career paths, because success is not a simple, straight line or a walk in the park. It is messy, full of ups and downs, requires honest and often painful self-reflection, endless hard work, and at times it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The good news? You’re the pilot and you chart the course, no one else. So follow your heart, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Do The Hustle. I never let being a woman in a man’s industry get in the way of what I wanted out of my career. If I encountered an obstacle, I found a way to overcome it. I didn’t sit around waiting for opportunities, I created opportunities for myself. It all comes down to having the right attitude, selecting the appropriate approach, and committing to your aspirations. When you’re working with 25 colleagues and you’re the only woman, be THE PERSON in the room who brings value and substance to the group. Be neither intimidated nor arrogant, and show them that you belong, because you do. Be flexible. Know when to lead and when to provide support; know when to go it alone and when to ask for help; and know which battles to fight and which to concede. While being conscientious about gender in the workplace is important, do not look at every situation through a lens of gender (this isn’t us vs. them).

Better. Faster. Stronger. Smarter. Want to surpass your male peers? Break through the glass ceiling? Then you will have to be ten times more knowledgeable than your male colleagues. You must be willing to do whatever it takes - extra research, extra education, extra charisma. When you walk into that meeting with 30 men, you better know your stuff more than anyone else in that room. If you want to get ahead, you cannot be average. The only way to increase gender diversity in the workplace is to get more talented women and women leaders in these industries who are willing to take on these challenges. It is not an easy path, but if you work hard and earn it, you will earn it for all women.

Empower ALL Women. Today, there are many more opportunities for women in the workplace than there were 25 years ago, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. In male-dominated careers where social conventions of gender roles are still prominent, it is easy to fall into the trap of being cut throat with our female peers. This is only reinforcing all the challenges women face in the workplace. We need to empower each other and help break down barriers for all women - millennials, gen x-ers, baby boomers, single professionals, mothers. I am not encouraging preferential treatment, but there’s no reason to go out of our way to make another woman’s life hard simply because our path to success might have been a longer and harder road. We are all in this together.

Fulfilling Career + Motherhood. Yes, You Can Have It All. A defining moment in my career was when I felt like I had to choose between my dream job and my daughter. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work for one of my professional idols, Richard Meier, on the design of the Getty Center Museum. But the 15-year project was going to require late nights, weekends, 24/7/365 of my attention. At the time, I was a single mother with a six-year-old daughter. It was an emotional decision for me, but I turned down the job offer to watch my daughter grow up. This does not mean I gave up my career for motherhood. Seizing a new opportunity, I moved to California to create the fulfilling career that I desired, while also being the involved mother that I wanted to be. And here I am, 30 years later, the founder and CEO of my dream company, Westgroup Designs, and a proud mother to a Public Defender.

My Fellow Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders, Lead the Charge. As women entrepreneurs and leaders, we are an example to all women and cannot take that responsibility lightly. We need to show younger female generations that their future is not limited because of traditional gender biases in the workplace. Be a beacon for female talent and nurture them, so they feel empowered and confident in their professional roles. Do not let them feel pushed out of traditionally male-dominated careers. It is not our titles, but the workplace environments we create and lead that say a lot more about our stance on gender diversity. We cannot sit around and wait for other companies to break glass ceilings and us to follow, we need to lead the charge. Talent is hard to find and worth its weight in gold, so our workplace environments need to engage all talent by making staff and office culture a high priority.

Appreciate Your Achievements. In closing, I ask you to stop focusing too much on everything you “didn’t do” or “haven’t done yet”. As women, we tend to be very self-critical and thinking our efforts are never enough. While relentless persistence and drive are tenets of success, not appreciating the value of our achievements and what we bring to this world can be just as toxic as apathy and laziness. You don’t have any significant achievements you say? Did you graduate college? Have you ever received a promotion? Are you juggling a career and raising a family? I would say you have at least ten significant achievements. So, every once in a while, take a moment to appreciate yourself and your many achievements.