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Design - May 2006

Going Green Saves Green for Corporate Clients

By Jake Ragusa

Jake Ragusa is senior vice president of Koll Development Co., headquartered in Dallas.

Dallas-based Koll Development is spearheading an industry first - branded, high-performance, sustainable speculative office buildings known as Intellicenters that offer corporate clients value, quality and efficiency.

Corporate America has always struggled with identifying the best options for office space. Every business, large or small, must decide between building a facility or leasing/buying existing space. These options have traditionally been rigid with little crossover between choices.

While it is faster and easier to move into pre-existing facilities, often the structure does not meet specific needs. Build-to-suits offer custom solutions specifically designed for occupants, but can be time-consuming and hinder companies wanting to enter a market quickly.

To address such challenges, Koll Development Co. has developed a concept that combines the best of build-to-suit developments with the ease of existing office buildings-known and trademarked as an "Intellicenter."

KDC sought to build sustainable office buildings in multiple cities and realized that efficiencies could be created if each building were exactly the same. The firm teamed with Prudential Real Estate Investors to build and finance approximately two million sq. ft. of speculative office space with a projected value of $200 $250 million.

A rendering shows an Intellicenter, introduced by Koll Development Co. and designed by Forum Studio Inc. and Gensler as a concept combining the best of build-to-suits with the ease of existing buildings.

Intellicenter features stress sustainable design principles including raised-access flooring, underfloor air distribution and highly efficient floor plates. The energy-efficient facilities boast fitness centers and cafeterias, as well as up to five parking spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of office space. Designed by Forum Studio Inc. and Gensler, each Intellicenter has the same design template, ranging from 150,000 to 200,000 sq. ft.

KDC knew the Intellicenters had to be strategically placed to attract forward-thinking companies. Two ideal locations in Texas were recently announced--Houston's Westway Park and Irving's Regent Center. A third location, in the Huntcrest development north of Atlanta, has broken ground. Additional sites are being considered in North Carolina, California, Florida and Arizona.

KDC wanted to develop the buildings using sustainable design principles in order to reduce operating costs. As a result, each Intellicenter building has been or will be approved to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Intellicenters will feature a floor design to accommodate more employees per sq. ft. and have 14-in. raised-access flooring to provide easy access to route electrical, phone and data cabling, eliminating the need for unsightly power poles. This access to critical technology will make office churn less expensive.

The large, efficient floor plates will be served with underfloor air distribution, which supplies conditioned air from a pressurized area between the floor slab and a raised-floor system. This air technology has been proven to significantly improve air quality. It also reduces operating costs, as the air temperature sits at 65 degrees above the 10-ft. ceiling, versus conventional 55 degree systems, resulting in 17 percent more free air days. Each office or workstation can be equipped with individual HVAC controls for temperature adjustment.

Because of the advanced energy control systems built into the Intellicenters, up to 30 percent can be saved in energy costs. Savings are also achieved because HVAC units can be deactivated during off-peak hours and weekends.

Each building will feature a central lobby with service access to the entire facility. High-finish floors and glass entryways that span from ground level to the roofline will create an open and airy feel. The exterior color palate will vary from city to city to complement the local environment and neighboring buildings.

Tilt-up construction will be utilized for efficiency and economy. The method provides a smooth facade free of columns and associated maintenance issues. Mechanical screens will provide a visual block of equipment and will be integrated into the overall design. The windows will be assembled with a high-performance solar coating to reduce heat and interior glare. Sunshades will provide additional solar relief in addition to light shelves to draw daylight into the workplace.

The interior of the lobby entry creates an atmosphere of style and refinement. Terrazzo flooring, made with natural stones and recycled glass, will create a warm foundation for the entrance. Each lobby will have a nature theme that creates visual impact in the walls. Panelized dark walnut will wrap the brushed stainless steel elevator doors complementing the patterned glass enclosure of the monumental staircase. A monolith of white crystallized glass will form a backdrop to the seating area, while leather lounge chairs and glass/metal cocktail tables will be placed on a custom wool rug. Illumination of the lobby will be achieved through high-efficiency, recessed lighting, accent wall washers and striking pendant fixtures.

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