Forest City Aligns its Offices with Creativity and the Power of Place

A real estate investment trust, Forest City, calls on Vocon to successfully design its Cleveland Headquarters with its core vision in mind: Creativity, Leadership, and Sense of Place.

Forest City sought an office that fostered collaboration, while also providing privacy for team members who thrive in quieter, more private spaces.

Together, Vocon and Forest City developed a design strategy that positioned the 110,000-square-foot headquarters, at Key Tower in Cleveland, as a collaborative community that supports a creative and energetic work environment and advances the organization’s mission and values.

Forest City sought an office that fostered collaboration, while also providing privacy for team members who thrive in quieter, more private spaces. To make this achievement, the Vocon design team created a variety of different experiences throughout the workday. The design also offered a bright, open and modern office with a designated location to host each task. Their design simplified navigation between departments, increasing accessibility and employee engagement.

When was the project completed?   


How much space (SF)?

110,000 square feet

Was this new or renovated space?

Renovated space

open space
The open plan model helps connect the diversity of experiences within the organization.

How many employees?


Describe workspace types.

The Vocon team created an open plan model buffered with shared and dedicated private spaces, while also adjusting departmental adjacencies to enhance workflow and communication. This strategy helps connect the diversity of experiences within the organization, as well as help associates share knowledge and enable collaborative behaviors amongst the workforce.

What kind of meeting spaces are provided? 

Urban center, neighborhood zones, private office spaces, and open plan layout

lower level offices
Associates experience consistent and recognizable navigation on all floors, allowing for easier travel to and from spaces within their neighborhood.

Has the project achieved any special certifications? 

The project recently won the AIA Ohio Honor Award for the interiors project and is currently in submission for AIA Cleveland Design Awards for interiors and LEED Silver.

What are the projects location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities? 

Currently, located at the heart of Cleveland’s downtown area, the Public Square. The building is within walking distance to public transportation, shopping, and food at Tower City.

Were any pre-planning surveys conducted to get employee input?

Yes, Vocon conducted in-depth Workplace Strategy and Visioning processes. The findings were continuously revisited as Forest City was undergoing a restructuring of their organization amidst the project – which created some challenges during the tight project schedule.

private areas
Workstations were reduced in size, but the design team provided a multitude of teaming and private areas to support their work activities.

Was there any other kind of employee engagement activities?

An exercise conducted, called photo journaling, allowed the design team to engage the employees (for what is called buy-in), lead focus group sessions, and interview all departmental heads for vital qualitative and quantitative information.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

Forest City sought an office that fostered collaboration, while also providing privacy for team members who thrive in quieter and more private spaces.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

There was an emphasis on placing healthy food options in cafes

kitchen area
Individual assignment of private offices has been eliminated within the work environment, including company executives.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

The new headquarters reflects the “work/live/play” balance Forest City develops in its real estate projects, illustrates in its strong commitment to the company’s core values and exhibits in the connections to the communities it serves. The design incorporates social hubs throughout to facilitate spontaneous collaboration and streamlined space assignments to fulfill workplace goals.

What is the most unique feature of the new space?

A 2-story urban center used to host community activities and promote collaboration

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

Yes, different seating postures throughout the workplace, height adjustable desks for all employees, privacy/mothers rooms, and bike racks.

modern open space
Moving to modern offices in Key Tower has allowed the organization to reduce its footprint by 40 percent.

What kind of technology products were used?

A/V connectivity throughout all collaborative areas,  power at all free address locations, digital room scheduling devices, monitors with running branding & company content at all cafes.

How did the company communicate the changes and moves?

They had an engaged the internal marketing/change management group.  There were employee walk-throughs during construction, furniture mockups, videos documenting the process, company-wide design presentations informing employees of the upcoming new design concept.

Tell us more!

Interior/Architect Design: Vocon

Design Director: Bob Porter

table area
The design establishes various neighborhoods throughout connected by both “pocket parks” and neighborhood centers.

Photos courtesy of Matthew Carbone


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