Amid Unsure Occasions, A Bay Space Structure Agency Dives Into The LA Market
Downtown Los Angeles
The Los Angeles office market burned last January. Despite the influx of new buildings, rents rose, vacancy rates remained stable and the market was ready to continue its seven-year boom. Then the coronavirus hit.
Now that vacancy rates are rising and rents are unchanged, the future of office real estate in LA looks less certain, but that hasn’t stopped San Francisco-based Revel Architecture & Design from diving straight into that market.
“While many technology companies in the Bay Area tell their employees to work from home by 2021, this is a different market in LA,” said Sarah Devine, general manager of Revel’s new LA office. “Some of our customers in LA are planning and driving projects. In many ways, now was the perfect time for us to enter the market. ”
Devine has over 30 years of experience with a particular focus on workplace design. She has worked in small and large companies across Southern California including HOK, ISI, AECOM, and Rapt Studio. Now she leads Revel’s efforts to break into the LA market.
Bisnow spoke to Scott Clement, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Devine and Revel, to learn more about their approach to office design, what makes the LA market unique, and what offices will look like in a post-coronavirus world.
Bisnow: Sarah, you’ve only been with Revel for three months. What made you choose to work with this company?
Devine: I’ve always tried to have variety in my career. A mentor told me years ago that to be a versatile designer, you have to work with companies of all sizes. This helped me not only to gain experience, but also to gain insights into the paths I wanted to take in this industry. I’ve found that I enjoy building things from scratch, from teams to offices to portfolios, and that drew me to Revel and the chance to build their LA practice.
From my point of view, Revel is a perfect fit. It’s a medium-sized company that shares my values, has a great culture and makes great designs.
Bisnow: How do you go about designing a productive work area?
Devine: It’s about listening to the customer and understanding their goals. That way, you can provide functionality that supports your brand and culture. Communication is key and needs to start early. If you have the right planning, the rest of the process will go a lot smoother.
I plan to use this approach when working with clients in a post-coronavirus world, but I expect the focus will be more on budgets. I’ve worked through several recessions and understand what it takes to get a project done within budget constraints.
Bisnow: What is unique about the LA office market? How do you design specifically for the LA workforce?
Devine: What makes the LA office market unique is that so much of it is related to the entertainment industry. Lots of big tech companies are here for their connections to the entertainment industry because of Disney, Netflix and the like, and you need to take that into account and focus on spaces that encourage creativity.
LA also has many different types of office buildings compared to other cities. Instead of rows of skyscrapers, you’ll see a mix of red brick buildings and low-rise offices that businesses can use to really build their own brand and identity.
Bisnow: How has Revel changed its business operations since the pandemic?
Clement: Long before the pandemic, we had invested in new technologies that would give our team the flexibility to work from home, including Zoom, Slack, and Revod BIM 360 from Autodesk, a cloud-based modeling platform. We have people who work not only across California, but also in Denver, Chicago, and Austin, and we need ways to keep them all connected.
The challenge right now is that we have a very strong corporate culture, and we want to keep it that way even if we can’t interact in the office every day. We did this by hosting virtual happy hours, movie nights, and political debates. It’s going well, but it was still a struggle for us; We are a very social company.
Bisnow: What do you think the future of office space will look like in a world after the coronavirus?
Devine: While it’s too early to know for sure, I think the new normal will be a mix of people going to the office and working from home rather than everyone working full time from home. Many people are now realizing that they don’t just go to an office to get their work done. In a common environment they make contacts, work together and get in touch with their employees. This will continue to be important.
I believe companies will begin to decentralize so that instead of having one large office, they will have several smaller offices outside of the big cities. This way, people living in the suburbs have a place to work together without having to commute to the city.
Clement: For generations, offices were just places where people showed up to get their work done. Although many people have the technology to work from home, they still come to the office because they feel connected to their people and organization while they are there. I’ve spoken to clients about this since the pandemic started and encouraged them to view their office as a way to support that bond.
This function was created in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Revel Architecture & Design. Bisnow’s news staff was not involved in the production of this content.