As a titan in the commercial real-estate industry, CBRE wants its own offices to reflect its know-how about the market. “When we make a real-estate decision, people scrutinize it,” says David Josker, managing director of the company’s Los Angeles North office.
Several years ago, the firm embarked on relocating its Universal City office, one of seven offices in the L.A. metro area, to a larger space. Ultimately the company chose an old Masonic temple in Glendale. The decision was largely driven by a growing interest in adaptive reuse. “This is the first adaptive reuse we’ve done as a company, and we have 450 offices across the world,” says Josker.
The firm occupies the upper portion of the nine-story Art Deco tower, designed by Arthur Lindley and built in 1928. Mostly vacant since the 1950s, the property was purchased in 2015 by local builder Caruso, who hired Gensler to convert the dilapidated temple into a desirable office building.
The tower needed major upgrades. “A key goal was to expose the building’s original character, at least what was left when we arrived, and to introduce modern elements,” says Lindsay Malison, a Gensler L.A. design director.
The firm restored the concrete exterior and replaced small windows on the side elevations with bigger ones measuring 9 by 15 feet. It introduced mechanical systems and added stairs and elevators. For CBRE, it transformed the upper five floors into a 25,000-square-foot office that aligns with the company’s Workplace 360 initiative, which aims to boost collaboration, efficiency, and employee well-being. To achieve this, CBRE uses a “free-address approach,” meaning there are no assigned desks. Other measures include eliminating paper and banning eating at workstations.
Mindful of these dynamics, Gensler conceived a flexible and communal space that resembles a tech office. The most dramatic intervention occurred on the seventh floor, which contained an assembly hall with decorative wooden trusses traversing a vaulted ceiling. Oddly, the double-height space felt gloomy and cloistered. “Even though it was grand, it was really dark,” says Carlos Posada, a Gensler principal.
The new expansive windows brighten up the room and provide city views. The trusses were refurbished, and the ceiling was sheathed with faux-wood metal panels. A hung mezzanine was inserted into the volume and looks over “the Heart”—an open zone for dining and socializing, which features bleacher-style seating cum stairs and a sculptural bar where employees can munch on free, healthy snacks. Glasswalled conference rooms were placed throughout the space.
The firm created a similar atmosphere on the lower two floors. Glazed rooms and rows of workstations were situated in a double-height volume, which is bordered by an L-shaped mezzanine held up by cross-bracing. A spiral staircase with swooping white walls connects the two levels.
The new office has been a hit. A CBRE survey found that nearly all employees feel it has improved their productivity and well-being. Moreover, they are proud to bring in visitors, from high-profile clients to spouses and children. “When we started seeing family members coming through, I realized what a special place we had built,” says Josker. “That was a huge indicator that we were successful.”
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Andy Cohen, FAIA, Principal in Charge - registered architect
Structural Engineer - Structural Focus
Commercial Real Estate Services - CBRE
WE O'Neil Construction
Benny Chan / Fotoworks
Steel encased in concrete
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project: Red’s Iron Specialties 661.799.9615
Masonry: Board Formed Concrete
Built-up roofing: Modified Bituminous Roofing
Metal frame: Metal frame
Pella Architect Series Commercial Wood Entrance Doors
Sliding doors: http://www.panda-windows.com/products/by-type/folding-doors
Panda Thermally Broken TS.co Bi-Folding
Fire-control doors, security grilles: http://wondoor.com/why-won-door/
Locksets: Air Loubers, Inc.
Acoustical ceilings: Acoustic Ceiling Tile – Armstrong
Suspension grid: Acoustic Grid – Armstrong
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: SMI Architectural Millwork 714.567.0112
Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams, Scuffmaster
Wall coverings: Maharam
Plastic laminate: Formica
Solid surfacing: Caesarstone
Floor and wall tile: Spec Ceramics (pantry backsplash)
Resilient flooring: DuChateau
Office furniture: Herman Miller (systems and ancillary), Geiger (ancillary), Allermuir (ancillary)
Reception furniture: Reception furniture: Knoll
Chairs: Humanscale (task seating)
Tables: Nucraft (conference), Herman Miller (ancillary)
Upholstery: Maharam/Herman Miller/Knoll/Carnegie
Interior ambient lighting: California Accent Lighting, Eureka, Architectural Lighting Works, Tokistar
Downlights: Coronet, Elite, Techlighting
Dimming system or other lighting controls: Daintree