Currently Reading

The four types of strategic real estate amenities

Industry Research

The four types of strategic real estate amenities


By Tyler Bohm | NBBJ | July 6, 2017

As competition for tenants, patients, employees and students has intensified, amenities have become an important asset and differentiator across all building types. For example, the total amount of space devoted to amenities in commercial office buildings has risen from 3 percent to 12 percent for high-end tenants, while hospitals and higher education institutions have spent billions to create amenity-rich campuses. Amenities not only draw potential building users, but they also can have a positive impact in terms of asking ratesemployee retention [PDF]patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.

While food service has become a baseline amenity in a wide range of facilities, four other amenity types are gaining popularity, namely, those which support fitness & health, access to nature, flexibility & control, and positive distraction.

 

Fitness & Health

Gyms are high on the list of employees’ desired amenities, particularly among millennials. In fact, three quarters of European employers already provide fitness facilities, expecting to benefit through reduced healthcare costs and improved productivity. Companies like Chesapeake Energy provide not just gyms but basketball courts and Olympic-sized swimming pools, while even coworking spaces like Brooklyn Boulders Somerville feature major fitness amenities like 22-foot climbing walls.

In healthcare, wellness and fitness centers have evolved from marketing gimmicks into profitable and popular amenities supporting integrated care and population health models. Akron General’s Health & Wellness Center–Green, for example, incorporates a fitness center with outpatient services and emergency department in a sprawling complex, while Florida Hospital is building an 80,000-square-foot wellness center that features indoor farmers’ markets.

 

Access to Nature

Green space is one of the most desired yet underprovided amenities in office buildings, according to surveys of millennials, and has a restorative effect on the weary. Some of the more innovative examples of green space amenities include multi-story glass spheres at Amazon’s new headquarters in Seattle, and a 43,000-square-foot urban farm at Pasona Group’s main offices in Tokyo.

Evidence-based design studies have also demonstrated that patients with a view of nature have less anxiety and pain [PDF], which has helped popularize healing gardens and other green amenities in the healthcare industry. For example, Diakonie-Klinikum Stuttgart has over 150,000 square feet of green space and gardens, while Massachusetts General Hospital’s Lunder Building has an atrium featuring hanging gardens.

 

Flexibility & Control

Employees that have a higher degree of control over where they work, including access to private space and a range of task-appropriate work environments, tend to have a higher degree of workplace engagement. Companies like ViaStat and Thermo Fisher Scientific have actively encouraged employees to modify and redesign their work environments to provide more flexibility and personal control.

Other studies have found that giving patients more personal control and choice reduces stress, an insight hospitals accommodate by creating relaxation rooms and enabling patients to control variables like lighting, sound and temperature. UCSD Jacobs Medical Center’s new facility gives patients iPads which control windows shades, room lights, the thermostat and an Apple TV.

 

Positive Distraction

Game and recreation areas have long been common in the tech industry but are becoming a more widespread phenomenon. These spaces may seem juvenile, but research suggests that helping people feel younger improves productivity. Other workplace amenities like lounges, libraries and terraces can help to create more varied, stimulating environments. Some more unusual examples include a mock pirate ship at Inventionland’s headquarters, and a 65-foot Ferris wheel at Acuity’s main offices.

Hospitals have invested in common spaces like lobbies and lounges to create areas of positive distraction and to reduce stress. At the Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center, waiting spaces have discovery bars where patients can explore research and educational materials via iPads, while Lurie Children’s Hospital has a custom fire truck that kids can play in.

 

Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that amenities which support fitness & health, access to nature, flexibility & control and positive distraction can have tangible benefits. The right type of amenity can be not just a perk but an asset that contributes to the bottom line, whether it’s more engaged employees, better patient outcomes or more desirable properties.

More from Author

NBBJ | Aug 18, 2021

20 years after developing the first open core hospital design here is what the firm has learned

Hospitals have traditionally used a “racetrack” layout, which accommodates patient rooms around the exterior and situates work areas and offstage functions in a central block.

NBBJ | Jun 8, 2021

As many storefronts sit empty, 3 opportunities to rethink the ground floor of buildings

The vitality of ground level commercial space is about much more than the future of retail.

NBBJ | Apr 13, 2021

Rethinking well-being at work

The four levels of health that support long-term success.

NBBJ | Feb 25, 2021

A healthier planet starts with hospitals

Eleven strategies to reduce energy use and increase wellbeing.

NBBJ | Jan 22, 2021

Cities should be planned for people before cars. Here's how it can be done.

Five lessons from Asia and Europe to create more human-centric American cities.

NBBJ | Sep 1, 2020

An evidenced-based approach to elevate the workplace experience

A new NBBJ report presents design concepts for providing people with opportunities to recharge and engage in the workplace.

NBBJ | Jun 22, 2020

7 choices for work environments that underscore the need to respond, not react

Below are predictions made from a reactionary mindset, coupled with realities that have been in front of businesses for some time.

NBBJ | Mar 26, 2020

How to convert college dorms to support the coronavirus crisis

While student dormitories are well-suited to certain alternate healthcare uses — from housing clinical staff to treating low-acuity patients — there are important elements to consider when exploring how to convert them for coronavirus treatment.

NBBJ | May 23, 2019

How can we make our cities more vibrant?

While an appropriate balance of mixed-use offerings is key, providing retail that is the right scale for an urban neighborhood can dramatically affect its character. 

NBBJ | Jan 16, 2019

Micro-units: Good for the city? Good for citizens?

Thinking more holistically about housing typologies and zoning will improve our public realm.

More In Category



Healthcare Facilities

Caring for caregivers

Many healthcare organizations are increasingly focused on designing amenities, policies, and workplaces to better support their clinicians, health providers, and administrators.



Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: