Approved: Mountain View office project near Google moves forward

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Work will start this summer on 600 National Ave. in Mountain VIew, which will weigh in at about 140,000 square feet of office.

Developers hope to start demolishing a collection of outdated tilt-up structures in Mountain View this summer after receiving final approval to replace them with a 140,000-square-foot, four-story office building.

The project – without a tenant on the leash – could open by early summer of 2015.

The green light for the project at 600 National Ave. represents the culmination of more than a decade of work for developerRandy Lamb and his partners with 600 National Avenue LLC. Mountain View City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved the project.

“We started back in 2001 having interest in this site,” Randy Lamb, of Menlo Park-based Lamb Partners, told me on Wednesday, adding it was only in the past couple of years he was able to assemble the necessary parcels.

“What we like about it is it’s served by three different freeways, it has great light rail within a half mile, and with the new transportation management agency, we’re really encouraged people will get to the site with as few car trips as possible,” he said.

Located in Mountain View’s East Whisman area, 600 National Avenue will target LEED Gold certification and feature a sleek modern design with lots of natural light, balconies for employees to gather outside and lush landscaping. Floor plates will be about 35,000 square feet, the kind of large footprint so popular with tech tenants these days. A one-story parking structure will also be constructed.

It’s quite a change from what’s there currently, project architect Ken Rodrigues told the council on Tuesday night.

“The beauty is we’re removing some small 1960s structures, and cleaning up and redeveloping the site so we can use it again,” Rodrigues, of Mountain View based Ken Rodrigues & Partners, said.

Propelled by stellar leasing largely from Google, Mountain View’s office market has become among the strongest in the region. While much activity is focused in the Google stronghold North Bayshore area, Google is also moving into the neighborhood of 600 National. In the last year, Google has bought a series of buildings on Ellis St., just down the street from the new project. And it also leases The Quad, a large office campus at 399 N. Whisman Ave. owned by Keenan Lovewell Ventures.

Lamb declined to discuss the status of financing the project, but stated, “We’re definitely going to build it.”

“There’s not much office product there, so I think there will be very positive demand for any new product that comes in,” he said.

Unanimous approval is rare in Mountain View, where new office projects have faced skepticism recently from some council members.

“I think we just followed the process, listened to (the various political bodies) and did what we were asked to do,” Lamb said.

In addition to Lamb, the partnership includes Vic Fracaro, Mark NicholsonJustin Reilly andLowery Pendley. The property is being marketed by Steve HortonGregory M. Davies,Justin Reilly and Dave Schley at Cassidy Turley.

A general contractor has not been finalized, but Lamb estimated construction would take 15 months. He declined to disclose the project cost.

Reconfiguring the Open Office

A look at new trends in corporate interiors

By Jennie Morton –

        

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Benching systems, collaborative spaces, and glass walls remain hallmarks of the open layout, yet these highly flexible spaces are seeing a rise of new design elements. Stay on top of these trends to keep your open office competitive.

AMENITIES THAT APPEAL TO ALL AGES
One of the driving factors of open offices is rising real estate costs, with many companies buying or leasing a smaller space while increasing occupancy.

Some individuals may grumble about closer proximity to colleagues, but the expectation that they are chained to a single spot all day has been banished.

“Occupants are being given more areas to work outside of their workstation,” explains Marc Spector, a principal for architectural and design firm Spector Group. “The entire office space is now available to use by everyone.”

“Space utilization has really evolved in recent years and become more strategic,” adds Scott Spector, principal. “It’s integrated into the work culture and creating a better office than we’ve had before.”

Despite smaller desks, the office has become more comfortable for workers. Furniture has a residential feel, color schemes are energetic, and the overall atmosphere is casual. To keep employees engaged, design elements have been borrowed from college campuses, lofts, and coffee shops.

“Spaces are being designed around the concept of ‘take the space you need at the moment you need it to get the job done,’” says Carl Bergauer, director of furniture sales with Business Interiors by Staples. “I may start at a workstation, move to a quiet corner, hop into a collaborative space with coworkers, and head back to a desk – repeating some variation of this throughout my workday. Office interiors must accommodate the constant and rapid change in business processes that take place every day in corporate America.”

To keep pace with technology and generational habits, the open office continues to experiment with new configurations. Consider these four trends in your space:

  1. The Open Executive Office – Companies are moving toward a model of inclusiveness for all workers. Some have eliminated the private corner office in favor of seating managers amid their subordinates, while others are using glass walls to foster transparency. “We’ve also created several executive business gardens for senior leadership,” says Marc Spector. “These function as an open plan that is private yet collaborative for management.”
  2. The Floating Conference Room – Take advantage of how mobile video conference technology is – it no longer needs to be rooted to one room. “Some companies are creating small chat areas for just one or two people,” explains Scott Spector. “These spaces are much more personal and local to the user, as opposed to booking a large conference room for just one person.”
  3. The Café Corner – Food brings people together, and many offices are adding restaurant-like areas or a support kitchen adjacent to conference rooms. Capturing the atmosphere of a bistro or coffee shop, these hot spots are perfect for lunches, extended meetings, and company events. They also double as an enticing workspace for individuals or small groups. “The traditional office kitchen is just a pass through – people grab their coffee or lunch and leave,” notes Marc Spector. “A pantry or bistro, however, serves as a gathering space where people touch down.”
  4. The Benching Alternative – Systems furniture is a fine offering for many organizations, but there are other options to keep in mind. “We’re seeing supper-style tables that are 20- to 30-feet long, which create a cafeteria-like seating. These are ideal for teams working on specific projects,” says Scott Spector. “You can dedicate only 100 square feet per person with this arrangement.”

If your company is planning a renovation, make sure building management has a voice at the table – your department often has the best understanding of potential noise, visual, thermal comfort, and privacy issues.

“A great facility manager must be constantly observing occupancy habits,” says Bergauer. “Know how the space is used and what issues are killing productivity.”

SOUND OFF ON ACOUSTICS
No discussion of open offices is complete without addressing acoustics – it’s one of the most common complaints that FMs hear from occupants. When BUILDINGS readers were asked “What is one thing you would change about your current office layout?” 33% answered acoustics.

“Even with carpet, proper sound attenuation on the walls, and dropped ceilings, open offices still have sound transmission between workstations. It’s not just one voice that can be heard – it’s 30 to 40 people potentially talking at the same time,” explains Marc Spector. “You need to provide some white noise privacy for the whole group. Phone booths or small conference rooms can also cut down on chatter.”

Most workers can tolerate some level of background noise, says Alicia Larsen, an acoustic consultant with the firm Acentech – it’s when there’s not enough speech privacy that they become distracted.

A useful sound metric to keep in mind is the articulation index (AI). This calculation measures how distinctly speech intelligibility stands out from background noise. An AI of 0 would be total privacy and a 1 would be no privacy at all.

“For open offices, normal privacy corresponds to an AI of 0.20 or less, which means approximately 25% of words can be understood,” Larsen explains. “An AI of .05 can achieve confidential privacy – less than 5% of words can be distinguished. This level of isolation is appropriate for private offices and conference rooms.”

One way to improve AI is to increase background sound levels with white noise – for every decibel you increase background noise, you effectively decrease intruding speech by one decibel, says Larsen.

Evaluate sound absorption for the entire space, not just for individuals. Look for wall, partition, door, flooring, and ceiling materials with STC (sound transmission class), CAC (ceiling attenuation class), or NRC (noise reduction coefficient) properties. These building materials can help dampen noise levels and keep your open office at maximum productivity.

These three case studies highlight the variety of open office layouts yet each ensures employee interaction remains at the heart of the design.

OPEN OFFICE VIBRATES WITH DAYLIGHT AND CLEAN LINES

Daylight floods the interior of the offices for the architectural firm the Spector Group. The majority of employees are seated in an open floor plan, with a variety of support spaces available for teamwork.

With 13,000 square feet of usable space, the Spector Group’s New York City office balances areas of privacy and collaboration. The interior layout is comprised of an open space that is divided into workstations for 60 professionals. Multiple semi-private and open conference areas foster team engagement.

The second floor provides uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling views, and a 13-foot exposed slab ceiling creates a loft-like yet linear atmosphere. The reception area is defined by a satin sealed exposed concrete floor, which leads the visitor’s eyes into the space and seating area. A linear ceiling light fixture further defines the reception zone.

The main conference room features an acoustically enhanced setting with fabric-wrapped panels and an integrated dropped ceiling with direct LED lighting. Glass fronts are used throughout the office and conference perimeters to facilitate daylighting and street views. Classic modern furniture coupled with benching complements the interior architecture.

A COCKTAIL OF COLLABORATIVE SPACES

Gathering areas are a key focus for the headquarters of Pernod Ricard, a wine and spirits company. Employees are encouraged to mingle in glass conference rooms. Workstations are placed around the perimeter for maximum daylight.

This top-shelf office is home to famous brands such as Absolut Vodka, Malibu, Jameson, and Seagram’s.

Pernod Ricard USA and Pernod Ricard Americas consolidated several locations into this 67,000-square-foot space designed by the Spector Group. Occupying three floors of a historic building on Park Avenue in New York City, the interior features a distillery-like ambiance with reclaimed wood ceilings and concrete corridors.

Individual workstations are placed around the perimeter to maximize daylight and a variety of glass conference rooms accommodate meetings. A bar area serves as an entertainment space and a new glass, metal, and wood communicating stair links two floors to enhance employee interaction.

“The space was a real exercise in open floor plans and gathering areas,” says architect Scott Spector with Spector Group.

 

A MODERN TWIST ON A HISTORIC SPACE

No private offices were included in this layout for KMA Architecture. Small nooks provide areas to collaborate in addition to a central conference room. Screens provide visual privacy between workstations.

Situated in a renovated military barracks, this 4,000-square-foot space has a little of everything – conference rooms, casual seating areas, and benching. What’s not present is a single private office.

“This layout enabled the open office model we had been trying to achieve in our former space,” says Rich Guerena, senior associate and project architect for KMA Architecture.

Height-adjustable workstations provide generous space for KMA’s nine employees while screens offer visual privacy. Touchdown areas and drafting tables are placed along a bank of large windows for optimal natural light.

Demountable walls create areas for storage, printing, and teamwork. Even the conference room is subject to the open office concept, with its top walls lower than the ceiling. Carpet tiles help to maintain suitable acoustic levels in the space.

Thermal comfort is aided by operable windows and mechanical ventilation, as a traditional cooling system isn’t needed for this San Diego office. The firm plans to install low velocity ceiling fans in the future.

“Most of us are LEED accredited professionals, so we love being in a historic building that’s repurposed. Being able to have a sustainable space was a big draw for us,” explains Tim Rubesh, principal.

Green Building 101: How does water efficiency impact a building?

101_GreenBuilding-3by Tiffany Coyle-

What is water efficiency?

According to the EPA, “water efficiency is the smart use of our water resources through water-saving technologies and simple steps we can all take around the house. Using water efficiently will help ensure reliable water supplies today and for future generations.”

Why is this important for buildings?

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the United States uses more than 400 billion gallons of water per day. The operation of buildings, including landscaping, accounts for approximately 47 billion gallons per day—12% of total water use.

As residential, commercial, industrial, and other development expands, so does the use of the limited potable water supply, water that is suitable for drinking. Most buildings rely on municipal sources of potable water to meet their needs, from flushing toilets to washing dishes and landscape irrigation. High demand strains supplies and under extreme conditions necessitates water rationing.

Furthermore, large amounts of wastewater can overwhelm treatment facilities, and the untreated overflow can contaminate rivers, lakes, and the water table with bacteria, nitrogen, toxic metals, and other pollutants. To avoid this damage to the ecosystem, additional municipal supply and treatment facilities must be built, at public cost. Water pumping and treatment, both to and away from the project, also require energy, whose production generates additional greenhouse gas emissions.

What are strategies that increase water efficiency?

Green building encourages innovative water-saving strategies that help projects use water wisely. Project teams can follow an integrated process to begin assessing existing water resources, opportunities for reducing water demand, and alternative water supplies. Effective strategies include:

Install efficient plumbing fixtures.
Use non-potable water.
Install submeters.
Choose locally adapted plants.
Use xeriscaping.
Select efficient irrigation technologies.

HP To Cut An Additional 11k to 16k Jobs As Quarterly Revenue Falls

Shares of computer and printer producer Hewlett-Packard HPQ +5.73% took a last-minute dive into negative territory Thursday afternoon after accidentally releasing the first page of its second quarter earnings report a few minutes too early — and not only was the timing of the results unexpected, but so were the company’s sales, which came in under the predictions set forth by Wall Street analysts. And in other less-than-fantastic news, the technology company also said that in an effort to achieve cost savings, it will need to lay off more people than it initially planned.

HP reported $27.3 billion in second quarter revenue, a figure that marks a 1% decline over the revenue reported for the prior-year period and misses the $27.35 billion analyst consensus. Net income came in at $1.27 billion, down from $1.4 billion in the prior-year period and resulting in GAAP earnings of 66 cents per share, up 20% from the 55-cent earnings per share reported this same time in 2013. Excluding special items — like a one-time after tax charge related to the amortization of intangible assets — the company posted earnings of 88 cents per share, a 1% increase over the non-GAAP 87 cents per share from the prior-year period and coming in line with the analyst consensus.

“With the first half of our fiscal year completed, I’m pleased to report that HP’s turnaround remains on track,” HP president and CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “With each passing quarter, HP is improving its systems, structures and core go-to-market capabilities. We’re gradually shaping HP into a more nimble, lower-cost, more customer- and partner-centric company that can successfully compete across a rapidly changing IT landscape.”

However effective this turnaround is, the effort means that an additional 11,000 to 16,000 positions will be eliminated from the company’s workforce. HP had previously stated that 34,000 positions would be eliminated as a result of a restructuring plan to lower costs and deliver better results, but on Thursday said that as it attempts to reengineer it workforce, it needs to up that number layoffs by the 11,000 to 16,000 range.

Looking ahead to its third fiscal quarter and beyond, HP said it expects third quarter non-GAAP earnings to fall between 86 cents and 90 cents per share and full-year 2014 non-GAAP earnings to fall between $3.63 and $3.75 per share. The company expects to incur a 27-cent per-share charge in the third quarter and a 95-cent per-share charge on a full year basis as a continued effect from the amortization of assets and other restructuring efforts.

Following the release of the earnings results, which were scheduled for after the closing bell but surprised investors and analysts alike and came out while regular trading was still in session, shares of HP immediately took a turn out of positive territory and dived into the red, eventually closing with a 2.3% decline. The drop continued as the after-hours trading session picked up, and shares of HP are currently down more than 1.8% in after-hours trading. Year-to-date, the stock is up 17.6%.

Mountain View office project targeted in referendum challenging growth

A Mountain View citizen’s group may target a major office proposal at the ballot box, the latest sign that the city’s development wave is leading to pushback in some quarters.

The recently formed Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View told city council members this week that it would begin a referendum if the council approved the next phase of Merlone Geier Partners’ Village at San Antonio Center. The phase would include a new hotel, an eight-screen movie theater and 500,000 square feet of office at the center. Merlone Geier has already completed the first phase, which includes 144,000 square feet of retail and 330 luxury apartment units at 645 San Antonio Road.

The project has been in the works for several years, but it’s coming up for a vote this summer as numerous developers have proposed their own office projects amid worsening traffic and ever-rising housing costs.

“This project will aggravate Mountain View’s jobs-housing imbalance by creating workspace for a minimum of 2,000 employees, and probably more, yet providing no housing — in an area suitable for housing,” wrote group leader Lenny Siegel in an email to council members.

Siegel said the council should not approve the project before it ratifies a new “precise plan” that would outline specific land use guidelines for the larger area. The council is slated to weigh in on the project July 1, while a new precise plan is a long-term effort that could take years.

Siegel told me this morning that he’s confident the group would be able to gather the 3,240 valid signatures required to get the issue on a ballot, possibly a special election because there may not be time to qualify for the November ballot. The referendum would basically ask voters to overturn the council’s approval, should it give the Merlone Geyer the green light.

“Our group is very optimistic in this day and age — with all the neighborhoods having their email lists — that we could get a PDF petition out to hundreds of people within 24 hours of the council action,” Siegel said.

Whatever happens will be of major interest to real estate developers and other industry professionals. Mountain View has become one of the most attractive markets for development thanks to the space needs of tech titans like Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp. andIntuit Inc., plus a burgeoning startup scene. But new projects have also started generating complaints of too much traffic and other growing pains.

Siegel said his group is not “anti development,” and in fact would support much more dense housing in the city.

“There’s this development wave happening, and we’re about to adopt a housing element (plan) that will provide — if we’re lucky — 3,000 new housing units by 2023,” he said. “We’ll have that many new jobs by the end of the year.”

The referendum threat carries weight given recent history. Last year, a Palo Alto ballot initiative killed a 60-unit senior apartment complex that the city council had already approved.

Also, in Menlo Park a citizen’s group is also seeking to use the ballot box against new projects in that city’s Downtown and El Camino Real corridor.

Merlone Geier didn’t return an email by the time of this post

Zuckerberg hit with real estate lawsuit related to Palo Alto land grab  

Mark Zuckerberg

Enlarge Photo
Vicki Thompson

Mark Zuckerberg may be facing some legal challenges related to buying the four houses that surround his own Palo Alto home.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing a lawsuit related to his Palo Alto land grabin late 2012 and early 2013, during which he bought four houses adjacent to his own for a collective $43 million, the Mercury News reported.

Developer Mircea Voskerician is suingZuckerberg over breach of contract. He says he held a claim on one of the properties, with plans to tear down an existing house and build a new home on the site. Zuckerberg, Voskerician says, bought the claim to the house for $1.7 million and the house itself from its owner for $4.8 million.

As part of the deal, Voskerician alleges,Zuckerberg was supposed to connect him with wealthy individuals who might be interested in buying his homes. He said that did not happen.

According to the Merc, the lawsuit says: “Zuckerberg stated he did not want construction in his backyard for 14 months and told Voskerician that he would refer him business and make him introductions if, in exchange, Voskerician would help him secure his privacy.”

Zuckerberg‘s attorney told the Merc that the suit was “meritless.”

Read the full report at the San Jose Mercury News’ website.

Stanford Football at Levi’s Stadium? 49ers’ home to host 2014 PAC-12 Conference Championship

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The San Francisco 49ers’ new $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium will host the 2014 Pac-12 Conference Championship, opening the door for a Stanford Football game at the Santa Clara venue.
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The San Francisco 49ers are a pro football team, but executives have emphasized over and over that the team’s new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will host much more than just NFL games to generate maximum returns on the $1.3 billion venue.

This week the Niners added the 2014 PAC-12 Conference Championship to a list of stadium extracurriculars that already includes professional soccer and Wrestlemania (not to mention the 2016 Super Bowl). 49ers Chief Operations Officer Paraag Marathe has also told methat special events ranging from concerts to swimming competitions are still on the table.

The PAC-12 title game will be played Friday Dec. 5, but kickoff time is yet to be determined — a finicky logistical challenge given major parking and traffic concerns in the stadium area, which is already home to a convention center, several large hotels and corporate tenants like AvayaPalo Alto Networks and Citrix.

Still, Silicon Valley football fans could see a hometown team in the game.

The PAC-12 Conference includes a wide array of West Coast schools, like Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Southern California and colleges in Utah, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Cal is already slated to play the University of Oregon this season in what will be the first college football game at the stadium.

Click here to take a photo tour of the 68,500-seat stadium slated to open this August.