How Coworking Can Help Architects Reassert The Importance of Design

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While tech-driven workplaces present new opportunities, if architects fail to show how design shapes workers’ performance, then architecture could easily loose its relevance.

A+I’s Marshall’s Landing coworking project in Chicago Courtesy Charles de Vaivre


The increasing popularity of coworking startups has pressured real estate developers to reconsider their offerings. It’s no longer enough to provide an open space and other basic services to leaseholders, who have come to expect much more from the typical tenant-landlord arrangement. But developers can also find value in this disruption, according to Jamie Hodari, the CEO and co-founder of coworking company Industrious. “Our core business is to go to a CEO and say, ‘Let us manage your workplace and you’ll have happier workers.’”

Hodari was speaking before an audience at the offices of A+I, the Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm. The panel discussion, which occurred on February 28, challenged architects to rethink their role in an unpredictable landscape of technology-driven change. “The real estate industry operates on very slow, geologic time in contrast to the world of tech,” A+I co-founder Dag Folger pointed out. His co-founder, Brad Zizmor, elaborated, postulating that the profession cannot “float above and see the monumental shifts” from a detached point of view. He pushed further: “I’ve been asked, ‘Why would I want a custom-built office?’ Is what architects do relevant?”

workplace coworking technology design

The new lobby at the Mart, in Chicago’s Loop, was also designed by A+I Courtesy Magda Biernat


Indeed, if more companies opt for coworking providers like Industrious, which raised $80 million in funding in February and already has 55 locations in 27 cities across the country, or Convene, which promises to deliver full-service offices on par with lifestyle hotels, fewer will need to consult architects at all. In order to combat such a scenario, practitioners need to expand their toolkit, Folger suggested, likening A+I’s services to social engineering. “We’re in the business of connecting companies with their culture and linking that to performance,” he said.

For Zizmor, architects are already well-prepared to navigate these waters of rapid cultural change. They are, in fact, better suited than companies because they have a better grasp of social dynamics, such as the rising popularity of sharing economies. “We get to be part of exciting conversations, to reinvent,” he said.

Yet, it was telling that the most provocative thought came not from an architect but a businessman. Chris Kelly, co-founder of Convene, projected the reality of coworking onto large-scale development. “What if a skyscraper were designed with the sharing economy built into it from the beginning? Is the future of our industry more co-working, or is there a larger form factor change?”

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$spagination = flexSlider.find(“.spagination”);
SPagination.Init($spagination.get( 0 ), {
size: slide_obj.count, // pages size
page: 1, // selected page
step: 3, // pages before and after current
cb: function(p){
flexSlider.flexAnimate(p-1, true);
}
});
}
}
}

function gtx_gallery_slide_before(slide_obj){
var slide=slide_obj.animatingTo;
$active_slide=$all_slides.eq(slide) ;
slideshow_ad_loaded = false;

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var right_item=$slider.find(“.slides li[data-i=”+(slide +1 )+”]”).attr(“data-i-only-pics”)
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$page=$thumbs.find(“.slides>li”).has(“li[data-i=”+(slide +1 )+”]”);
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}
}
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function gtx_gallery_slide_after(slide_obj){
var slide=slide_obj.animatingTo;
$active_slide=$all_slides.eq(slide) ;

if($active_slide.hasClass(“gtx-ad-slide”)==1){
$slider.delay(100).queue(function(){
$(this).addClass(“gtx-gallery-loading”).dequeue();
});
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$slider.find(“.flex-direction-nav”).show(2000)
}
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if(mobile_mode){
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}
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var right_item=$slider.find(“.slides>li[data-i=”+(slide +1 )+”]”).attr(“data-i-only-pics”)
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$thumbs.find(“li.gtx-thumb-img”).eq(right_item -1 ).addClass(“flex-active-slide”);
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}
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//REFRESH ALL ADS
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// Check if we loaded the ad in and thusly don’t need to refresh
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googletag.pubads().refresh(ad_slots_refresh);
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}
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}
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fully_visible = backward_right_pos 8){
gtx_gallery_thumbs_set_backwards()
}
}

function gtx_gallery_thumbs_after(slide_obj){
if(slide_obj.count > 8){
gtx_gallery_thumbs_set_backwards()
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}

function gtx_gallery_paginated_thumbs_start(slide_obj){
gtx_gallery_paginated_thumbs_lazy();
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$thumbs.find(“.flex-control-nav.flex-control-paging”).removeClass(“flex-control-paging”).addClass(“g-pagination”);
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size: slide_obj.count, // pages size
page: 1, // selected page
step: 3, // pages before and after current
cb: function(p){
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}
});
}
}

function gtx_gallery_paginated_thumbs_before(slide_obj){
var slide=(typeof slide_obj == “object” && slide_obj.animatingTo ? slide_obj.animatingTo : 0);
gtx_gallery_paginated_thumbs_lazy(slide_obj);

}

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var slide=(typeof slide_obj == “object” && slide_obj.animatingTo ? slide_obj.animatingTo : 0);
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}

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}

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try{
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}catch(err) {
}
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var ad_index = 0;
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ad_index=$( selector ).closest(“.gtx-ad-slide”).attr(“data-i-only-ads”);
}catch(err) {

}

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.setTargeting(“category”, ‘[“workplace-interiors”,”homepage”,”think-tank”]’)
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googletag.sizeMapping().addSize( [0,0], [[300,250]])
// force refresh if lazy loading
if(gtx_ad_man.lazy_loading_ads) {
googletag.pubads().refresh([adslots[slotName]]);
}

});
}

gtx_gallery_syncHash = function(path){
pic = “”;
re = /pic/?([0-9]+)/?$/i;

if(!path && window.location.hash && window.location.hash.match(re)) path = window.location.hash;
if(!path && window.location.pathname && window.location.pathname.match(re)) path = window.location.pathname;
if(path){
matchslide = path.match(re);
if(matchslide && matchslide[1]>0){
pic = parseInt(matchslide[1]);
}
if(!isNaN(pic) && pic > 0){
slide=get_slide_by_attachment_id(pic);
if(slide>0){
avoid_next_pageview = true;
flexSlider.flexAnimate(slide – 1, true);
}
}
}else{
gtx_mixpanel_track_slide( )
}
}

function changeURL(pic){
basepath = window.location.pathname.replace(//pic/?([0-9]+)/?$/i,”/”);
if(isNaN(pic)) return;

path = basepath + “pic/”+pic+”/”;

title = “Pic “+pic;
if (typeof(window.history.replaceState) == “function”) {
window.history.replaceState({}, title, path);
} else {
window.location.hash = path;
}
}

function get_slide_by_attachment_id(id){
var slide=$slider.find(“.slides li[data-attachment_id=”+id+”]”).attr(“data-i”);
return parseInt(slide, 10);
}

function gtx_mixpanel_track_slide( slide_obj ){
if(slide_obj){
var slide = slide_obj.animatingTo;
}else{
var slide = 0;
}
$active_slide=$all_slides.eq(slide) ;

if(!avoid_next_pageview){
try{
var loc=location.pathname+”#slide”+(parseInt(slide)+1);
ga(“send”, “pageview”, loc);
if(ga.getByName(“gtxcelTracker”)){
ga(“gtxcelTracker.send”, “pageview”, loc);
}
}catch(err){

}
}
avoid_next_pageview = false;
//Mixpanel track image viewed
try{
if(typeof mixpanel !== “undefined”){
var slide_type=$active_slide.attr(“data-slide-type”) || “”;
if(slide_type==”pic”) slide_type=”image”; // rename “pic” to “image”
mixpanel_args = {
title: “How Coworking Can Help Architects Reassert The Importance of Design”,
“post id”: ‘48560’,
“slide type”: slide_type,
“gallery template”: “Slideshow Thumbnails”,
}
mixpanel_args.categories = “Workplace Interiors, Homepage, Think Tank”;
mixpanel_args.author = “Zachary Edelson”;

mixpanel_args[ “post type” ] = “article”;

if(slide_type == “ad”){
mixpanel_args[ “ad index” ]=$active_slide.attr(“data-i-only-ads”) || “”;
}else{
mixpanel_args[ “slide number” ]= $active_slide.attr(“data-i-only-pics”) || “”;
mixpanel_args[ “image title” ]= $active_slide.attr(“data-title”) || “”;
mixpanel_args.caption= $active_slide.attr(“data-caption”) || “”;
mixpanel_args.url= $active_slide.attr(“data-pic”) || “”;
}
var img_src = $active_slide.attr(‘src’);
if(!img_src){
img_src = $active_slide.attr(‘data-pic’);
}
var pattern = /uploads/(.*)/;
var match = pattern.exec(img_src);
var img_path = match ? img_path = match[1] : “”;
mixpanel_args[ “image path” ]= img_path;

mixpanel.track(“image viewed”, mixpanel_args);
}
}catch(err){
console.error(“error”, err);
}

}

//Add a callback on ad render
googletag.cmd.push(function() {
googletag.pubads().addEventListener(‘slotRenderEnded’, function(event) {
var slotName=event.slot.getSlotElementId();
if(typeof adslots[slotName] !==”undefined” && !event.isEmpty){
$slider.clearQueue();
$slider.removeClass(“gtx-gallery-loading”);
}
});
});

jQuery(“#gtx-gallery-thumbs-48560”).flexslider({
animation: “slide”,
controlNav: false,
animationLoop: false,
slideshow: false,
itemWidth: 100,
itemMargin: 5,
move: 1,
//asNavFor: “#gtx-gallery-slider-48560”,
prevText: “”,
nextText: “”,
after: gtx_gallery_thumbs_after,
after: gtx_gallery_thumbs_before
});
$thumbs=$(“#gtx-gallery-thumbs-48560”).data(“flexslider”);
$thumbs.find(“li.gtx-thumb-img”).first( ).addClass(“flex-active-slide”);

$(“#gtx-gallery-slider-48560”).flexslider({
animation: “slide”,
pauseOnHover: true,
controlNav: false,
//animationLoop: false,
//slideshow: false,
//sync: “#gtx-gallery-thumbs-48560”,
prevText: “”,
nextText: “”,
slideshow: false,
init: gtx_gallery_slide_init,
start: gtx_gallery_slide_start,
before: gtx_gallery_slide_before,
after: gtx_gallery_slide_after
});

if(mobile_mode){
$slider.find(“.flex-direction-nav”).hide();
}

});

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