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May 16, 2018 6:45:00 PM / by Lew Cowan

As if office space measurement in New York City isn’t confusing enough, there is another important factor that determines how much – or how little – space a company will need to accommodate a given number of people: the design and shape of the building.


Older buildings usually have many interior columns, and some are rather large. In addition to creating design challenges, calculating the tenant’s square foot rental rate does not take columns into consideration. Also, to supply heat, older buildings typically use radiators or convectors which can take up to two feet of space along the window line. Once again, this space is not taken into consideration when calculating the tenant’s rental rate (i.e. you don’t get a reduction in rentable area because of this non-occupiable space.).


In older buildings, air conditioning is often provided through air-cooled package units (which are industrial versions of residential window air conditioning units). These air-cooled package units require mechanical rooms to be built at the window line, resulting in additional loss of valuable window space and light. These mechanical rooms are included in the rentable area, and are another cost hidden in plain sight. Also, older buildings, especially those built before World War II (referred to as pre-war) often have inefficient floor plates; a “C” or “L” or “H” shape for example.   This is because their construction predates the development of air conditioning, so all workers had to be near windows that opened for ventilation.


Buildings built in the 1960s and 70s avoid many of these pitfalls. Advances in construction technology permitted fewer and narrower columns. These floor plates usually have a center core. This core maximizes windowed-office space because the elevators, bathrooms, and building infrastructure are efficiently clustered in the middle of the floor.


Beginning in the 1980s, building have even fewer columns and use cooling/heating systems that do not infringe upon the window line. The result is that a tenant often needs less “rentable” space than they would in older buildings to accommodate the same number of people.


So which type of building is best?


There is no simple answer because a critical part of selecting space is the subjective element, the “feel” of the building and space. Many older buildings are now in vogue with technology and media companies because the spaces offer open ceilings, polished cement floors and exposed steel columns which mimic the feel of industrial lofts. Landlords, who spent years and large sums of money “modernizing” older spaces, are now returning to a retro chic look. On the other hand, for a higher price, newer buildings offer efficiency and cutting-edge technology.


There are many interesting and exciting options for office space in New York. We can help the selection process by providing an objective analysis which combines our understanding of the market with your subjective aspirations.


Call us and let’s start looking at some of the most unique office spaces in the world.


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Topics: New York City’s Commercial Real Estate MarketOffice SpaceOffice Space RentalCommercial SpaceTenant RepresentativeNew York office space

Lew Cowan

Written by Lew Cowan