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Office issues

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What do office occupiers really worry about when it comes to choosing a building? Insights were offered by Chris Johnson and Andrew Talbot of Gensler, speaking at last week's Workplace exhibition seminar in London's Docklands.

Citing a survey from the Urban Land Institute, they noted the following: in respect of general issues the top five considerations were rent; facilities management costs; parking provision (in suburban locations); parking costs (in city locations); and the image and prestige of the building.

Looks really matter, particularly external appearance, followed by the reception and other 'public' areas. On the vexed question of in-town or suburban location, the following factors were important (in order): facilities supplying food; money; retailing; fitness; and childcare. On technical issues, temperature and heating came top of the list, followed by air quality, acoustics, power capacity, ability to control temperature, and security/access arrangements. The latter may now become more important, of course. Johnson and Talbot had comments to make on the post-11 September working environment, not least because Gensler is the architect for the new GCHQ complex outside Cheltenham (planned protected evacuation time 3-4 hours). The men noted that it is possible to provide huge floor plates in ground-scraper buildings; Gensler is designing a three-building facility for Credit Suisse, with a combined floor plate of 10,000m 2.Johnson and Talbot also raised the issue of whether super-tall buildings would in future need to be designed so that in the event of collapse they would not hit anything else. Could this be the era of icons, not clusters?

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