The famous idiom of Location, Location, Location which is favorably used by neighborhood realtors, seems to feel almost dated when deciding on a new office location. In a world of quick and easy means of "off site" communications, the appeal of renting an office in a more cost effective area has never been more appealing. Or so we think.
In the past few years I have been privileged to personally follow and assist some companies through their "growing pains" of locating and designing an office.
Like a home, the office has a soul, and its location matters. Unlike a home, the economic ramification of poor office locations can be devastating for a new up and coming business, and for other local businesses around them. Office buildings are like mini-cities, they not only generate work or a certain kind of culture to the people who work in them, but also to the their surroundings.
If ever there was an example for a business creating a distinct culture around them, the first one that comes to my mind is Detroit. Though we know the outcome of the lack of foresight and mismanagement of Detroit, I think you can see my point of what a company culture can do to its surrounding environment.
But not every employer or company have the privilege of finding that sweet spot between, easy commute, free parking, proximity to recruiting talent, and great eating spots. These are the exception, rather than the norm. This is where good design comes to play.
I can't stress enough how the American office space design lags behind it's European, Asian and Middle Eastern counterparts. It seems that many a times the functionally, cost effectiveness and connivence combined with a sever dose of conservatism have created the most dire and beige spaces I have had to work with. In his book "From Bauhaus to Our House" Tom Wolfe so pungently describes the 8' ceilings in steel and glass frames with 2' X 2' acoustic tiles, and buzzing florescent lights, that I had a vision, not of a luxury corner office, but of a prison cell. The design culture of offices has to change to allow for growth, where beige cubical walls are present creativity is stifled. Good office design has been proven to promote productivity, which in turn allows for companies to grow and create better environments around them outside the office building.