What Is an Office Complex?
A typical office complex is a collection of architectural elements that facilitate clerical work, data processing, or the supply of corporate services. From a strictly architectural standpoint, there are no defined parameters for describing this type of complex.
According to some, an office complex is a collection of one-story buildings connected by architectural elements such as covered walkways, atriums, and other similar structures. Others argue that it can consist of a single structure housing the offices of numerous corporations, government agencies, and groups.
Understanding Office Complex
Office complexes may be one or multiple stories tall. The majority of local zoning rules stipulate where these complexes may be built. Office plaza, corporate campus, and office park are further words that describe a comparable architectural usage and layout.
While a corporation may own its complex, leasing is quite frequent since it enables rapid expansion by adding office space inside the complex or on another campus.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines architectural characteristics to evaluate whether an office complex is deemed one building or multiple buildings for Energy Star certification purposes.
For the purposes of an Energy Star rating application, a collection of offices connected in a seamless manner, with no atrium or concourse between buildings, is considered a single structure.
The EPA applies the term “office complex” to both separate buildings on a single site and a single structure housing various enterprises or activities.
In ordinary parlance, an office complex is simply a site where multiple employees perform office work in a space that is larger than a single office. From an architectural standpoint, there has been significant debate and research on how to create the most effective office environment for workers and visitors.
Virtually everyone agrees that the physical surroundings of a workplace have a considerable effect on productivity and job satisfaction, with noise abatement and privacy concerns being the most pressing issues.
Health privacy regulations affect architectural considerations because medical providers may be placed in office buildings. It is anticipated that the will ban the usage of cubicles with holes that allow others to overhear private discussions.
Some businesses implement open office architecture for collaborative objectives. Rapidly innovating high-tech companies may strive to establish relationships by fostering an office climate in which employees participate in regular, impromptu conversations.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a completely private office configuration with floor-to-ceiling walls. A cell office is a combination of the two, providing some solitude while preserving an open reception space conducive to impromptu collaboration.
Flexible and technologically sophisticated working spaces that are safe, healthy, comfortable, durable, visually beautiful, sustainable, and accessible must be provided in an office building.
It must be able to satisfy the tenant’s unique space and equipment requirements. Particular consideration should be given to the selection of interior finishes and art installations in entryways, conference rooms, and other public places.
Types Of Spaces
A variety of space types are incorporated into an office building to accommodate the needs of employees and guests. These may comprise:
- Private or semi-private acoustic and/or visual offices may be available.
- Convention Rooms
Employee/Visitor Support Spaces
- Convenience Store, Kiosk, or Vending Machines
- The lobby is the central area for building directories, timetables, and other basic information.
- Atria or Public Areas: Unstructured, multifunctional recreation and social gathering space (s)
- Canteen or Dining Room
- Private Restrooms, Showers, and WCs
- Daycare Facilities
- Fitness Location
- Garages or Surface Parking Lots
Administrative Support Spaces
- Administrative Offices may be acoustically and/or visually private or semi-private.
Operation And Maintenance Spaces
- General Storage: For items such as office supplies, equipment, and educational materials.
- Food Preparation Area or Kitchen Information Technology (IT) Closets or Data Processing Spaces Refer to WBDG Automatic Data Processing: Information on the PC System.
- Maintenance Closets
Important Design Considerations
The elements of design objectives pertinent to office buildings are detailed in the table below. Click on the titles below for a comprehensive list and explanation of the design objectives within the context of whole-building design.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all newly constructed public accommodations and commercial structures, such as office buildings, must be accessible.
The ADA Standards for Accessible Design establish minimal requirements—both conceptual and technical—to ensure that newly built and constructed or changed public accommodations and commercial facilities are readily accessible and useable by those with disabilities.
Several of the most important aspects are listed below. To identify all requirements, it is essential to consult the whole standard.
- Accessible Parking, Entrances, and Routes: Office buildings should include accessible parking, entrances, and paths within the areas that can assist wheelchair-using individuals with a variety of disabilities. Office furniture should be situated at least 32 inches from the walls “Walls and other obstacles must be removed to facilitate wheelchair passage. Allow 60 “clearance to allow wheelchairs to turn and rotate around bends.
- Accessible Countertops and Work Stations: Utilize standing and/or adjustable desks, as well as customizable work surfaces and counters, to accommodate the varying needs of your employees. Desks must be 24 to 36 inches tall. Typically, standard desks are 30″ tall. Employees should not be required to reach above 48″ and below 15″. When an employee must reach to the side, things should not exceed 54″ in height or 9″ in depth. Whenever possible, incorporate Universal Design principles to create a design that works for everyone.
- Assistive Technology: Plan for employees with disabilities who require specialized assistive technology, as well as those who rely heavily on non-portable equipment.
- Toilet Rooms and Bathing Spaces: Provide accessible restrooms and bathing areas, as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When designing the exterior and interior of an office building, develop areas and a building design that businesses and individuals will want to work in. Aesthetics have a substantial impact on both workplace morale and productivity. The office structure should also be designed to handle alterations in work flow or usage.
Utilize color, pattern, and texture to create a welcoming and secure environment in the building. The furnishings, finishes, and artwork of a facility should reflect the nature of the job performed there, be well-maintained, and create supportive and comfortable settings.
Provide whenever feasible access to views and nature to enhance the quality of the work environment. Provide discrete workspaces and storage that are aesthetically pleasant. Encourage some personalization of space, but remove clutter to reduce workplace distractions and risks.
The high-performance office should be evaluated using economic and material evaluation models based on its life cycle. Owners must recognize that enhancing building performance necessitates an initial willingness to invest more in order to reduce long-term operating and maintenance expenses.
Value engineering provides a method for evaluating the performance vs the cost of each design element and building component in order to maximize the return on the investment in the facility.
In the design phase of building development, value engineering correctly applied evaluates alternative design alternatives to optimize the predicted cost-to-value ratio of completed projects.
Value engineering produces strategies for preserving or enhancing outcomes while minimizing life-cycle costs. During the construction phase, shared savings encourage contractors to use their specialized ‘know-how’ to make adjustments that reduce costs while preserving or improving quality, value, and functional performance.
The building design must take into account the integrated needs of the intended occupants.
This includes their desired image, degree of public access, operating hours, growth demands, security issues, and vulnerability assessment results, organization and group sizes, growth potential, long-term consistency of need, group assembly requirements, electronic equipment and technology requirements, acoustical requirements, special floor loading and filing/storage requirements, special utility services, any material handling or operational process flows, special heaving requirements, and any special heaving requirements.
The high-performance office must readily and cost-effectively handle periodic remodeling and modification, sometimes known as “churn.” These revisions may be the result of management reorganization, staff changes, alterations to business models, or technology advancements, but the office infrastructure, interior systems, and furniture must be up to the task.
- Consider elevated floors to facilitate easy access to cabling and power distribution, as well as sophisticated air distribution capabilities for occupant comfort.
- Incorporate elements such as plug-and-play floor boxes for power, data, voice, and fiber, modular and harnessed wiring and buses, and conference hubs to provide daily flexibility at work and future restructuring of office workstations.
- Plan for a hybrid office concept that will allow some employees to work in the office while others work remotely. Elements of hybrid office design include segregated layouts, separated cubicles, more personal space, contactless paths, one-way halls, separated desks, disposable surface protectors, and signage to direct the flow of employees and guests.
Urban And Site Planning
The concentration of a high number of workers within a single structure can have a substantial effect on the surrounding areas and neighborhoods. The retail, food service, and interconnected business linkages that office buildings bring to a neighborhood can help revitalize it.
Transportation difficulties must also be considered while designing office structures. Office buildings are frequently affected by urban planning and municipal zoning, which seek to encourage suitable land use and thriving districts.
1. Consider already built or brownfield lands for the construction of a new office building in order to limit the impact on land use and natural habitats. Also explore existing structures that can be adapted to reduce the amount of resources required to construct a new building and to minimize the disruption of new locations.
2. When selecting workplace locations, consideration should be paid to the travel distance required by the bulk of occupants. To establish the optimal location for the office, it is necessary to undertake research into the origins of zip codes.
The establishment of new office sites may involve employee relocation, particularly if the office is relocated or opened in a new geographic region. The municipal resources should include housing costs and availability, traffic congestion, school system quality, cultural resources such as museums, sports teams, and higher education institutions, natural attractions such as coastal, riverfront, and lakefront areas, mountains, and public parks, availability of educated labor, crime rate and law enforcement, and civic infrastructure capacity such as water, waste water, and waste processing.
3. After a building has been erected and occupied, it is imperative that its long-term performance be optimized by a rigorous procedure of metering, monitoring, and reporting. The outcomes of this feedback should inform maintenance operations and serve as input for new design initiatives.
Worker Contentment, Health, and Comfort: In office environments, the single largest expense for companies is the salary of the occupants. It typically exceeds the facility’s lease and energy expenditures by a factor of 10 per square foot. In a high-performance office, the health, safety, and comfort of employees are of the utmost importance.
- Utilize techniques such as improved natural ventilation rates, the specification of non-toxic and low-polluting materials and systems, and monitoring of indoor air quality.
- Provide personalised climate control that enables users to specify their own preferences for temperature, ventilation rate, and airflow at a specific location.It is generally acknowledged that worker satisfaction and productivity rise when office workers are supplied with stimulating, dynamic working environments. Access to windows and vistas, opportunities for contact, and control over one’s immediate environment are some of the aspects that contribute to a more fulfilling workplace. Additionally, see Psychosocial Value of Space.
- Office workers must have access to natural light for their physical and mental wellness. Each office occupant must have access to natural light and an unobstructed view of the outdoors. A minimum of thirty foot candles per square foot of indirect, diffused natural light is desired.
- The acoustical atmosphere of the office must be created and coordinated with its other architectural elements and furniture. Special emphasis must be given to noise control in open office environments, with absorptive finish materials, white noise masking, and adequate separation between occupants.
For business, industry, and education, technology is a vital tool. Considering that technology is driving a variety of changes in the organizational and architectural forms of office buildings, the following considerations should be considered when introducing information technology (IT) into an office:
- Plan new office buildings with an IT infrastructure that is distributed, strong, and adaptable, allowing technology access in practically all locations.
- Identify all necessary technological systems during the planning phase (e.g., voice/cable/data systems such as audio/visual systems, speaker systems, Internet access, and Local Area Networks [LAN] / Wide-Area Networks [WAN] / Wireless Fidelity [WI-FI]) and provide adequate equipment rooms and conduit runs for them.
- Consider and incorporate wireless technology as needed.
- Combining smart building technologies, smartphone apps, and wearable sensors will convert workplaces following a pandemic into significantly safer environments. Additionally, data can be collected from these technologies to optimize the spaces and make them more user-friendly.
- As repairs are performed on existing office buildings, access to the IT infrastructure should be enhanced.
Secure / Safe
Office building security begins at the property border or site perimeter. This involves design for site access, parking, walkways, and security features that secure the structure during the day and night. Focus the design on protecting occupants and property from both human and natural threats.
Through a comprehensive threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, and risk analysis, security requirements for particular buildings are determined and feasible design responses are found for incorporation into the office building design.
- Consider entries which are not directly visible from uncontrolled vantage points. Employ site barriers and setbacks, perimeter barriers and blast resistance, access control and intrusion detection, entrance screening, package screening and control, open areas that permit easy visual detection by inhabitants, and reduced glazing. Refer to WBDG Secure / Safe—Building Occupant and Asset Security.
- Unfamiliar with their surroundings, first-time visitors may have difficulty locating the building’s most secure exit. Consider increasing the amount of signs and/or including safety information and a building directory in welcome pamphlets. Additionally, regularly examine and assess safety plans. Consult WBDG Secure / Safe—Fire Protection and Secure / Safe—Occupant Safety and Health for additional information.
- Utilize CPTED principles to proactively design security into the project without compromising aesthetics, while also providing cost savings, improved quality of life for building users, and decreased loss and liability., when incorporating it, particularly information technology (IT), into an office, consider the following issues:
Depending on the office’s size, local climate, use profile, and utility rates, strategies for reducing energy consumption include: reducing the building’s energy loads (by integrating the building with the site, optimizing the building envelope [decreasing infiltration, increasing insulation], etc.); correctly sizing and optimizing the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; installing high-efficiency equipment, lighting, and appliances.
Consideration should be given to the use of renewable energy systems such as building-integrated photovoltaic systems that generate building electricity, solar thermal systems that produce hot water for domestic hot water (DHW) or space conditioning, and geothermal heat pump systems that utilize the thermal capacitance of the earth to improve HVAC system performance.
Additional consideration should be given to the uses of various distributed energy sources, such as microturbines, fuel cells, etc., that provide reliability (emergency and mission-critical power) and grid-independence while decreasing dependency on fossil fuel grid power.
Materials and Resources
To reduce environmental consequences, long-term operation and maintenance expenses, and to improve indoor air quality, building materials and resources should be durable and sustainable.
To safeguard and conserve water, install water-saving fixtures and equipment. Additionally, consider a landscape design that requires minimal water.
Recover non-sewage and graywater for on-site application (such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation, and more generally, consider the water quality requirements of each water use).
The unit prices for this building type are determined by the GSA based on the construction quality and design features listed in the table below. This data is based on the GSA’s interpretation of the benchmark and other owners’ interpretations may differ.
The huge portfolio of facilities older than 25 years is both a considerable challenge and an opportunity for recapitalization. The GSA’s First Impressions Program targets the quality of its older facility portfolio’s entrance and lobby areas.
Modernization focuses primarily on the outer envelope, mechanical systems, telecommunications infrastructure, interior finishes, and security.
Improving the quality of the workplace, energy efficiency, security, the ability to accommodate tenant turnover, maintenance costs, and life expectancy are essential goals for updating these buildings. As part of the modernizing endeavor, buildings on or eligible for the historic registry are appropriately preserved.
As building technology and controls continue to advance, it is essential that high-performance buildings are properly commissioned as part of a complete quality assurance plan. In numerous situations, a continual commissioning procedure has proven useful.
Some federal agencies and commercial entities are rapidly moving toward demanding commissioning for all high-performance structures in their portfolios.
Relevant Codes And Standards
There are numerous criteria, codes, and standards that govern the design of federal and private office buildings. General principles and guidelines for the design of federal office buildings can be found in:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Guidelines U.S. Access Board
- PBS-P100 Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service by the General Services Administration (GSA)
- Requirements and Specifications for Special Purpose and Support Space Manual, Volume 1–4 by the General Services Administration (GSA)
- UFC 1-200-01 DoD Building Code
- UFC 4-610-01N Administrative Facilities
- U.S. Courts Design Guide Judiciary Conference
- WELL Building Standard International WELL Building Institute
Organizations And Associations
- The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
- International Facility Managers Association (IFMA)
- International Living Future Institute (ILFI)
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
- Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by The American Institute of Architects, Dennis J. Hall. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
- How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. New York: Viking, 1995.
- Systems Integration: Increasing Building and Workplace Performance by BOMA International Foundation. 2000.
- Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK)—an interactive portal offering online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of building, from predesign, design, and construction through occupancy and reuse.
- ENERGY STAR®
- Zero Energy Buildings
- High-Performance Commercial Buildings—A Technology Roadmap
- GSA Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool)—SFTool’s immersive virtual environment addresses all your sustainability planning, designing and procurement needs.
An office complex is a collection of commercial buildings in close proximity to each other such as schools, government buildings, or hospitals that are used for business purposes.
Most often, they are not individual office buildings but rather a combination of multiple buildings. The primary focus of these facilities is to provide workspace and services to companies.
The buildings are typically large because of the need for office space and the ability to have multiple tenants. Some office complexes may even have a mall attached to it.