How Boston’s best offices get built

A cool office space is becoming a key recruiting method.
A cool office space is becoming a key recruiting method. –Gensler

The recent TripAdvisor and New Balance office unveilings in the greater Boston area have included variations on the same theme: these buildings are necessary to attract young talent.

With their spiffy, modern, amenity-filled new digs, these companies are competing with the likes of Google, Apple, and Amazon to get the top talent in the country and the world.

But how do business ensure their new multi-million dollar offices hit the mark when it comes to wowing potential employees?

That’s where architectural design companies like Gensler come in.

The Boston-based office of Gensler, a national firm, has been changing workspaces across a variety of industries for over 20 years in the Hub. The team’s latest major commission is for the new Partners HealthCare building in Assembly Square in Somerville.


“Here is an interesting example of talent,’’ Arlyn Vogelmann, a principal at Gensler’s Boston office, said, noting that 40 percent of the staff at the Partners office in Assembly Square will be programmers and other tech workers. “[The office design is] based on flexibility and mobility and choice, and is as groovy and progressive as other tech companies. They are competing with the best of them in Kendall Square.’’

Amanda Carroll, technology practice area leader and senior associate at Gensler’s New York office, shared with us the framework she uses when first working with a company about building or revamping a major office space.

Carroll, who was just named to LinkedIn’s “Next Wave’’ list of professionals under 35 who are changing the business world, said she helps clients answer questions like “What is the overall mission for the space?’’ or “What are your underlying secret wishes?’’ Carroll breaks her job down into three parts:

1. Strategic vision for the space – What does the company actually want and need?

2. Strategic evaluation of the space – This evaluation needs to be not only of the space’s infrastructure, but also based on performance needs of the company.

3. Identifying the key attributes of the workforce – Each company has its own style and culture. Carroll and her team recognize this and try to match the physical space to these more abstract values.


Story continues after gallery.

See inside offices that Gensler designed:

These design strategies, though often seen in technology companies, are not limited to one specific field.

“I think almost just about every industry is going through a disruptive moment in its time line,’’ Carroll said, “They are having to rethink their go-to-market strategy and the way they present themselves.’’

This is especially true in the Boston area, which has high concentrations of both millennials and so-called “knowledge workers.’’

“[Companies] are very conscious of the competition for their talent especially here in Boston and Cambridge,’’ Vogelmann said. “There’s a lot going on and the tech powerhouses are moving into Kendall Square.’’

Two of Gensler’s other Boston clients are tech software company MathWorks, in Natick, and software delivery company Akamai Technologies, in Kendall Square. Given that MathWorks is out in the suburbs, it needs to pull the talent out from the city, which can be a challenge.

“Everybody, regardless of industry, is trying to keep up with people competing for talent,’’ Vogelmann said. “For MathWorks, it is a robust amenity program, great gathering spaces, a café, a fitness center, food options, popup stores within.’’

The Partners HealthCare offices, which will house 4,500 employees, will definitely promote a certain culture at work – there will be retail, fitness, food choices, bike storage, and outdoor eating areas in the complex.

Jump To Comments