Ding dong, the cubicle is dead. Long gone are the days where office workers would sit in uncomfortable chairs under fluorescent strip lighting while pounding away their keyboards.
Now offices are competing with people’s own homes, since working from home saw a surge because of the pandemic. According to a recent report from CNBC, the hybrid work model — where workers work part-time from the office and home respectively — is reported to fall short of the dominant work habit. Going forward, workplaces will be wellness-focused to help encourage productivity. And it’s what some call the “amenity wars” after one Manhattan skyrise brought a 24-ton sculpture to hang in the lobby of 550 Madison by the Olayan Group.
Since the summer, half of the workforce has returned to the office. According to a report from global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, at least 82% of employees are expected to return to the office by January 2022.
But many employees are thinking twice about leaving their bedroom office for a suit they haven’t worn in over a year. Employers have to make work an enjoyable experience nowadays. Office spaces have to offer more than lounges with cute couches and upscale cafés, it has to be a space to socialize, experience heightened wellness and have meetings in open-air rooftop gardens.
As we approach 2022, office buildings are going all out with golf simulators, beekeeping hives and Peloton bikes. Here are four commercial buildings bringing luxury, hotel-like amenities, so it’s harder for workers to say “no” when it comes to a day at the office.
This 27-story office tower, owned by Nuveen Real Estate, and its development advisor, Taconic Partners, recently transformed through a $120 million renovation.
Their amenities include the Sky Lounge. This space greets workers with a concierge desk and offers a 6,000 square-foot lounge, as well as a balcony that overlooks the main lobby and provides catering. There’s also a conference space with five separate rooms that each have AV equipment. The building boasts its own 8,000 square-foot gym that is equipped with the latest equipment, such as Peloton bikes and fitness studios, locker rooms and showers, and is staffed with workers. It also has an in-house cafeteria called the Food Hall, with a barista, self-serve food stations and grab-and-go options that allows workers to easily take food to go, as well as a pickup and delivery options at all times of day. If that wasn’t enough, the tower has a bike room that can house 49 bikes and a golf simulator lounge on its main level, which is being built this fall.
It also has two beehives on this seventh-floor terrace, which are maintained by a local urban beekeeper. At the end of each season, the honey produced by the bees will be harvested for the tenants to enjoy.
This office space, designed by Studios Architecture Principals David Burns and Anna Ammari, alongside Marx Realty, is a future-forward office space with an abundance of amenities. It’s inspired by five-star hotels and private member clubs, combining wood finishing, velvet and brass to do what the architects call “creating a new work aesthetic.”
Inspired by the Art Deco design of New York buildings built in the early 20th century, there is a meeting place called the Lounge. It looks like a tropical bar from the 1930s and has an outdoor terrace with lush greenery that can host events. The top floor penthouse apartment offers next-level luxury, too, and unmatchable views of Manhattan.
This tower is essentially for foodies. The building brands itself as a culinary destination, featuring world-class dining by renowned French Michelin star chef, Daniel Boulud. In the building’s Altus Suites, or executive office spaces, they each have a “high design cafe” that offers a relaxation space combined with some of the world’s finest coffees.
This 93-story skyscraper in midtown has a new observation deck to bring in the tourists called the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, which is on the 91st to 93rd floor. It competes with the One World Observatory and the Empire State Building for top level views of the city, but here, it’s made for the Instagram generation: It’s created entirely of glass and mirrors.
The building is certified by both the LEED Platinum standard and the WELL Gold, making it a trailblazer in office buildings. It has a complete amenity program that totals over 30,000 square feet, but the huge garden is the most refreshing part. It’s a welcoming gathering place that includes artisan food kiosks and enormous trees. This 21,300 square-foot space is open to the public.
The architect, Craig Dykers, who is a Founding Partner of Snøhetta, said his approach was creating a social space. “We hope that its new monumentality will be characterized by both sculptural sensibility and a new social relationship with its context,” he said.
He wants people to remember 550 Madison as a place where they had an experience like, “I remember my time there in the garden, or moving past it, or the beautiful light that I saw reflecting off the glass,” he said. “They’ll have a memory of an experience, and not just a memory of an object.”
The building offers column-free office layouts and high ceilings to their open space plans, which adds a ton of space for office workers. Their open floor planning offers flexible workspaces that can be used for multi-use spaces, too.
As Dykers explained: “You can only create that kind of space if you make something for people in a way that they don’t expect. You can’t engineer intimacy. You can create opportunities for people to experience a sense of discovery, which is very important in creating a design.”