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Market gains encourage better workplace design [2013 Giants 300 Report]

The commercial office sector is finally heating up, led by corporate headquarter and medical office building projects.

July 22, 2013 |
GlaxoSmithKline recently opened a 208,000-sf office in Philadelphias Navy Yard

Many firms that do office design and construction stayed afloat during the recession with modest projects—fit-outs, renovations, targeted green retrofits. But the sector’s finally heating up.

Commercial Realtors recently reported an increase in annual gross income for the third year in a row ( Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest office forecast pegged more than a dozen metros as being in “a rising phase,” including Austin, Dallas, Boston, Denver, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New York (

Though speculative projects still lag, corporate HQs and medical office buildings are moving ahead. “The medical office building of the future can accommodate much of what was done in a traditional hospital setting,” says Steve Straus, President of Glumac. “Some of our clients have bold ambitions, including net-zero.”


2012 Office Revenue ($)
1 Gensler $462,700,500
2 HOK $128,726,000
3 Perkins+Will $107,951,672
4 NBBJ $64,002,000
5 Stantec $62,500,236
6 PageSoutherlandPage $43,190,000
7 Heery International $39,443,931
8 Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates $38,081,000
9 RTKL Associates $37,474,000
10 Hammel, Green and Abrahamson $37,307,000


2012 Office Revenue ($)
1 AECOM Technology Corp. $830,320,000
2 Parsons Brinckerhoff $146,400,000
3 Jacobs Engineering Group $95,180,000
4 Burns & McDonnell $82,020,000
5 Thornton Tomasetti $50,861,467
6 Michael Baker Jr. $50,720,000
7 WSP USA $48,500,162
8 Arup $32,355,607
9 Buro Happold Consulting Engineers $28,720,000
10 AKF Group $26,917,000


2012 Office Revenue ($)
1 Turner Corporation, The $2,195,790,000
2 Structure Tone $1,435,332,000
3 PCL Construction Enterprises $1,409,212,727
4 Clark Group $974,974,066
5 Skanska USA $847,106,242
6 Balfour Beatty $792,915,576
7 Gilbane $690,915,000
8 JE Dunn Construction $613,825,563
9 James G Davis Construction $575,006,000
10 HITT Contracting $535,524,009

On the West Coast, tech firms are creating eye-popping campuses, including NBBJ projects for Amazon (Seattle, 3.3 million sf); Samsung (San Jose, 1.1 million sf, with Arup); and Google (Mountain View, Calif., 1 million sf). Facebook tapped Frank Gehry to design its 420,000-sf Facebook West in Menlo Park, Calif., and Foster + Partners is designing Apple’s 2.8 million-sf, net-zero Campus 2 in Cupertino (to be built by DPR-Skanska.) 

Bleeding-edge companies seek the latest in social engineering and sustainability, but they’re not alone in believing that generational and technological trends justify a reboot in office design.  “The relevance of ‘the office’ is in question,” says Steve Hart, Director of Interior Design at Heery. “Why are you even in an office? We believe the office needs to help individuals feel connected to the company and support a common sense of purpose.”


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