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Building Repositioning: What It Is and What It’ll Look Like in 2024

Author Richard Brennan, Anna Gibertini

Tags Insight

From cleverly reimagining older structures to building ones that optimize the new workplace paradigm, designers are pulling out all the stops to make the contemporary built environment more technologically advanced, sustainable, people-friendly, and profitable.

When we talk about building repositioning, what do we mean? The term isn’t frequently used outside of the AEC industry, but it’s important to know because it’s what’s driving the rapid transformation of our 20th century spaces into ones compatible with our 21st century lifestyles.

Building repositioning refers to the comprehensive transformation of an existing building, significantly altering its functionality, appearance, and market positioning. Unlike standard renovations, which typically focus on aesthetic updates or minor structural repairs, repositioning aims to fundamentally reimagine a building’s purpose to align with evolving market demands or trends. This process may involve changing a building’s original use, like converting office spaces into residential units, or adapting it to suit different types of tenants or buyers. It often includes major structural changes, technological upgrades, and the addition of new facilities, going beyond mere cosmetic enhancements. While renovation is primarily about maintenance and minor improvements, building repositioning is a strategic, investment-heavy endeavor that seeks to dramatically increase a property’s value and relevance in the current market. It’s a response to shifting trends and demands, turning outdated properties into vibrant, sustainable, and functionally diverse spaces.

Here, we’ve identified six trends that will shape the design of building repositioning projects in 2024, as well as representative projects from HLW’s portfolio.

Adaptive Reuse of Historic Properties

Embracing the old to create something new, adaptive reuse is a trend that breathes new life into historic buildings. By preserving external charm while revamping interiors for modern use, these spaces offer a unique blend of history and contemporary functionality. This trend not only preserves cultural heritage but also contributes to sustainability by reducing the need for new construction.

Incorporating Wellness Amenities

Charter Communications yoga studio
HLW incorporated a fitness studio and gym into Charter Communications’ Stamford, CT corporate headquarters. These types of spaces offer employees an opportunity to step away from work, exercise, do a communal activity with coworkers, and inject some variety into the workday. There are benefits for employers, too: In-office gyms help to attract talent, improve employee morale, reduce sick days, and save a company money on gym memberships.

Wellness is at the forefront of modern design. This includes integrating green spaces like internal courtyards or balconies adorned with greenery, alongside meditation and wellness rooms, and state-of-the-art fitness centers. These amenities are more than just luxuries; they are a response to a growing awareness of how design can have an impact on bolstering mental and physical health. Additionally, our modern conception of offices and apartment buildings are more than just places to work or live; they are communities. Designers are also integrating wellness amenities focused on creating communal spaces and curated tenant experiences, where events and shared experiences can bring diverse groups together.

Sustainable Upgrades

Brooklyn Steel Green Roof
HLW’s design for Brooklyn Steel, an 1,800-person music venue, includes a green roof. Green roofs are still quite rare in New York City, but their benefits to building owners, tenants, and the urban population are myriad. The green roof on top of Brooklyn Steel acts as an acoustical buffer, provides a location for a local apiary club, and reduces urban heat island effects.

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a necessity. Incorporating solar panels, green roofs, and energy-efficient appliances are now standard in building repositioning. In urban areas like NYC, electrification of appliances and improved HVAC systems are crucial. These sustainable practices not only reduce environmental footprints but also offer long-term cost savings.

Flexible Workspaces and Lease Options

Green Hasson Janks
HLW helped GHJ to reposition their L.A. office in a way that would maximize its flexibility and spark employee excitement about coming into the office post-pandemic. To address potential ‘emptiness’ in the space, HLW designers included as mix of lounge spaces and open workstations that sit adjacent to enclosed meeting rooms, providing the opportunity for collaboration that GHJ lacked in their previous space.

The pandemic has rewritten the rulebook for office spaces. Flexible and co-working spaces, along with flexible lease options, are now vital. These spaces cater to a workforce that is not entirely back in the office but isn’t fully remote either. Such environments offer a blend of stability and flexibility, accommodating various working styles and schedules.

Technology Integrations

HLW included bookable offices with touch pads for GAM’s repositioned London HQ. These pads can optimize space utilization, reduce energy consumption, and prevent scheduling conflicts, all of which contribute to a more efficient workspace.

Buildings are getting smarter. IoT sensors, touchless access, energy management systems, and space monitoring/booking capabilities are becoming standard. These integrations not only enhance efficiency and safety but also provide a level of convenience and modernity expected in contemporary buildings.

Pre-Built Spaces

Brookfield One Manhattan West
This turn-key space is located at One Manhattan West. HLW specified these design elements to be a curated kit-of-parts that are easily scalable according to a client’s budget. The timeless design options can withstand the test of time and minimize modifications upon a client’s lease expiring.

The demand for high-end, empty, turn-key spaces is on the rise, especially among smaller tenants. Landlords are now employing architects to design these spaces on spec, leaving just the AV/tech aspects to the tenant. This trend indicates a shift towards more flexible, ready-to-use spaces that cater to a variety of needs and preferences.

These trends in building repositioning reflect a broader shift in how we view and use our spaces. They are no longer static structures but dynamic environments that adapt to our changing needs, values, and technologies.

HLW ArchInsights is a bi-weekly window into the dynamic world of architecture, where we explore industry trends, offer thought-provoking insights, and share the latest news from our firm, guiding you through the ever-evolving landscape of design and innovation.