Attracting a Creative Workforce Through Neighborhood-specific Design

Loft-inspired design in commercial buildings can draw creative businesses to Downtown Brooklyn.
By Dan Kaplan

There is growing ecosystem of tenants – from individuals and start-ups to established enterprises – that thrive off the energy and ethos of the Borough of Brooklyn. With a concentration on “TAMI” (Technology, Advertising, Media and Information), Design firms and Non-profits, these firms recognize the productivity, dynamism, and economics arising from the proximity to Brooklyn’s great concentration of talent, culture, institutions and infrastructure.

Supported by a dozen subway lines, the LIRR Railroad and a growing ferry and bike network, Downtown Brooklyn is highly connected to the region. The neighborhood rivals Lower Manhattan in these attributes and resources – with opportunities for work, live, and play in the area’s fast-growing amenities – inviting enterprises to call Downtown Brooklyn their new home. As businesses – homegrown and transplants from Manhattan and beyond – gravitate to the rich ecosystem of Downtown Brooklyn’s civic, business, academic, and cultural life, the growth of Class A office space is necessary to complement the swell of investment.

1 Willoughby Square (1WSQ) is a new 34-story tower in Downtown Brooklyn crafted to meet the ethos of today’s creative enterprises. Located adjacent to an existing hotel, existing residential buildings and the new Willoughby Square Park, the 450,000-square-foot commercial office building will include ground-floor retail spaces and a 300-seat school for the New York City School Construction Authority on the second through sixth floors.

The building will be formatted with multiple entrances to prevent congestion among its users – professionals, shoppers, and students. The School will have its own entrance on Albee Square West adjacent to the retail frontage, while the office tower’s entrance and lobby will be located on the opposite side of the building, on Duffield Street. The design makes effective use of its T-shaped site employing a side core to house elevators, stairs, services and support spaces, which allows the work spaces to be completely open and free of core elements. With various entrances and productive use of the site, 1WSQ will support flow and create active streetscapes bordering the park.

The building design is organized to promote the social and natural connectivity that today’s TAMI and Design tenants desire. Each floor features a core-free and column-free office “loft.” Surrounded by daylight on 4 sides and supported by state-of-the-art systems, the loft allows for flexibility and open sightlines. These attributes support a variety of interior fit-out typologies including highly dense open-office work spaces, bespoke social and meeting functions and specialty “maker” installations. Social connectedness is further enhanced by interior atria, connecting stairs and exterior terraces. In addition, three “super-floors” are incorporated, featuring higher ceiling heights, special façade treatment and exterior “loggias.” Tenant amenity spaces include ample bike storage with private showers and changing rooms, a fitness center for both individual and group use, conference and meet-up lounges and a shared outdoor space overlooking the Park. Rejecting the conventional all-glass formulation, the design is a contemporary take on the Brooklyn industrial loft with oversized windows with integral sunshades, distinctive blue glazed brick spandrels, and exposed concrete structure.

1WSQ will offer flexible design and new Class A office space in Downtown Brooklyn. Surrounded by quintessential brownstone neighborhoods and a growing array of high-rise apartment houses, 1WSQ is convenient for a growing residential community. Harmoniously positioned across new retail amenities of City Point and the neighborhood’s expanding open space, 1WSQ will be a compelling workplace in a vibrant live-work-play setting that the creative workforce covets.

Dan Kaplan serves as a senior partner in a design and leadership capacity for many of FXCollaborative’s complex, award-winning urban buildings. Adept at creating large-scale, high-performance buildings and urban designs, Dan approaches each project—from individual buildings to large-scale urban plans—with the viewpoint that it must contribute to a larger totality.