The real-estate market for office buildings is not an easy business, especially where rental properties are concerned. Office buildings that are getting on in years run the risk of falling vacant because they no longer meet companies’ needs for workspaces. To make things worse, quite often these premises do not lend themselves to flexible use, outdated building technical facilities and services spell less-than-perfect working conditions or the building’s overall look-and-feel has long since lost its contemporary appeal. On the other hand, we see office high-rises going up that look just like their predecessors. Prompting the question what actually sets these new builds apart from their elder cousins designed to cater to a wide range of different users while still meeting a whole host of expectations and requirements – ideally for a service life of more than 20 years.
With their makeover of “200 Gray’s Inn”, which Lord Norman Forster built in 1989, Great Portland Estates (GPE) have impressively demonstrated how somewhat outdated properties can be given a new lease of life for a new generation of tenants. Together with architect Ian McArdle GPE stripped the building of components typically en-vogue at the time of construction to reveal the architecture proper concealed behind. We asked Ian Cartwright, Project Manager at GPE, why in addition to bright and open offices, showers and cafeterias are high up on the tenants’ wish list and how much control you can delegate to them.