Architects Earn More From Renovations Than First-Time New Builds, Fueled By Workplace Revolution | News

Architecture firms charge more for rebuilding and renovation projects than for new construction for the first time; a milestone driven by growing demand for office renovations. In the 20 years the AIA has collected billing data for renovations versus new construction projects, the share of bills received for renovations has steadily increased for more than a decade, which suggests that the new milestone is not entirely attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the whole of 2021, work on existing buildings accounted for 52% of architectural firm billings. According to AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, a quarter of work on existing facilities includes adaptive reuse, with another quarter due to basic interior conversion and retrofitting. 18% includes tenant fit-ups while adding usable space and upgrading facades or building systems each account for 10%.

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“It’s a long-term trend, our economy is growing slowly – much slower than in recent memory – and I think that means we don’t need new things so much as reusing what we have,” Baker said in a recent AIA think piece. “I don’t think this trend is an anomaly, and I think we as a country and as design and construction industries are seeing that opportunities to adapt or renovate what we have already are at least as attractive as starting from scratch. site.”

Baker is skeptical of attributing that growth to pandemic-era renovations, noting that only 10% of business renovation projects stemmed from pandemic-induced work. However, there is evidence that the pandemic will indirectly lead to a continued increase in renovation and remodeling projects for architects.

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A recent CBRE survey of 185 office tenants found that 91% of respondents plan to adapt their existing office space, with 52% planning to reduce their space and 39% planning to expand it. For CBRE’s Global Head of Occupier Thought Leadership, Julie Whelan, a wave of building renovations in the office sector is being led by landlords facing record vacancy rates, who are undertaking major renovations to meet the changing tenant needs.

“The office building is falling off a cliff,” Whelan told Bisnow. “All that work in new construction now goes into renovating the space […] Our workplace strategy group and our occupation analysis group have never been busier because everyone is trying to figure out what they should be doing. As Bisnow notes, companies specializing in space and occupancy analysis are also seeing high demand, with office owners seeking to understand the impacts of newly redesigned offices on workplace performance.

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For Whelan, particular design trends noted by CBRE include more social and collaborative spaces, a reduction in the traditional desk-to-worker ratio, and improvements in worker comfort through air filters and health features. and well-being.

According to the CBRE survey, the architectural elements most sought by tenants in their ideal offices are “flexible open space” (65%), “shared meeting space” (59%) and for private phone calls and web meetings. (49%). The survey also revealed that 51% of companies expect flexible office space (i.e. shorter leases than traditional office space) to play an important role in their work plans. .

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