This Firm Used Its Change Management Strategy for Clients on Itself

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Chair of the Month

Image courtesy of TPG.
Image courtesy of TPG.

With 35 years of experience, TPG Architecture’s decision to move their headquarters from Park Avenue to Penn Plaza was a welcome challenge for the design team. Their efforts resulted in 40,000 square feet of comfortable elegance and sustainable technology, seemingly paradoxical design concepts that reflect the firm’s personality and portfolio. An open floor plan allows for team collaboration while individual desks and 19 different breakout areas offer varying degrees of privacy. If that wasn’t enough, a central café offers booths, counter stools, sofas, and chairs (seriously, we dare you to not find a seat in this place).

Sustainable materials in a black and white palette became the office’s point of reference, even going so far as to name each conference room after a black and white animal (“there’s a design meeting in Cow at 2:00 and then a debriefing in Dalmatian at 3:00”). Small pops of green take the form of sporadically strewn chairs, a manifestation of the firm’s efforts to cut energy costs, which helped them to earn LEED Silver accreditation. Take into account the use of SMART Boards throughout the office and the new central location, and it’s easy to say that TPG has moved on to greener pastures.

What is the proximity to public transportation and other amenities?

The proximity to public transportation is excellent. Within a five block radius the office is walkable to 4 subway stations that collectively service 13 different subway lines.There are also 2 Citibike stations at Herald Square and Penn Station, both literally 2 blocks away.

What is the square footage/person?

181 square feet per person.

Which furniture brands did you use?

All of the basic workstations are Innovant desks with Aeron chairs. Lane was the furniture dealer. Additional furniture includes Martin Brattrud, Bernhardt, Hightower, Arper, Vitra, and Herman Miller. Lighting control is Lutron, with fixtures by a variety of manufacturers.

How many total employees are there and what’s the daily population?

There are 185 overall, [with] roughly 170 in the New York office. That is the daily population although many people are in and out at job sites during the day.

What was the hardest aspect of change for people in moving from the former space?

Benching was a new concept and people were definitely worried about personal space and privacy. It was managed with the change management strategy that we use with our own clients, assigning local “move coordinators” to represent groups of employees, and they were in continuous communication with the staff. Employees participated with suggestions for new ways to take advantage of the design. As the move date got closer, the pace and frequency of interaction sped up to mitigate any myths and/or rumors about the new space. The abundance of meeting, conference and public/flexible seating areas ended up comforting the staff; there are so many alternatives to being at one’s desk.

Is there a mobile work or work-from-home policy, or are most of the employees there all day every day?

There really isn’t a mobile work policy per se; it’s more on a case-by-case, daily basis.

What percentage of the space is unassigned?

There are 19 public meeting/conference spaces throughout the office; including the kitchen, lounge and resource library. On a percentage basis it comes out to 20 percent.

How is the brand reflected in the space?

Our firm is 35-years-old, but the staff is still growing and learning as the workforce and workplace strategies evolve, and as trends and advances in design happen around and within the firm. Many ideas that we use in counsels and designs for clients — including choices of furniture and materials, overall planning, transparency, flexibility and technology — are used at this space. Even more interestingly the character and overall themes of the office upon entering — elegance, busy-ness/activity, tasteful yet edgy design, some understatement — end up describing the basic character of TPG, which is the ultimate expression of the brand.

What is the most unique feature about the new space?

There is no single unique feature but the plan, with a central open stair, a large cafe/lounge at its base and the resource library at the top, brings so much work energy into the center of the office that there is a very specific vibe of work and communication all the time.

Please talk about any other notable aspects of the project that make it unique.

We worked closely with the NRDC as this was a pilot project for its Market Innovation program, illustrating the High Performance Tenant Demonstration energy value analysis. The analysis compares energy use from a code compliant baseline and against an “adjusted baseline” to differentiate the impact of the energy performance measures (EPMs) installed by the building owner and the EPMs installed by TPG. We reduced energy use is via:

  • High efficiency HVAC units
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Local lighting occupancy sensors
  • Energy Star equipment
  • Demand controlled ventilation
  • No humidification in the data center
  • Computer shut-off software
  • Occupancy sensor plug strips
  • High efficiency lighting
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