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The Mann Report | Translating Business Cultures into Built Space

Translating Business Cultures into Built Space

Tony Colciaghi, February 2008 Download PDF

"The only way to really serve today's business owners is to be right in the midst of their project development, advising on every aspect of the process," said Anthony J. Colciaghi. A principal in Francis Cauffman Architects' corporate division, one of its four specialties, Mr. Colciaghi explained that, "Even before there is a set project to consider, our role is to facilitate the pre-design real estate and space utilization decisions of the client."

Francis Cauffman recently opened a New York City office, where President Jim Crispino is located. Once known as Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffman, the 160-person Philadelphia-based design firm is the largest in that city and has offices in Baltimore and Syracuse as well.

Starting his career 25 years ago as an architect in a small firm that designed interiors for Lehman Brothers, First Boston, and other companies in the New York financial market, Mr. Colciaghi brings first-hand insight into how business and real estate influence one another - "business translated to built space," he termed it. "It's a great advantage to understand development and architecture," said Mr. Colciaghi. "To tailor a project for a client these days, you need to design within a greater context; especially the contexts of finance and human resources." To do this, Francis Cauffman conducts extensive pre-design work with real estate brokers, business analysts, and client principals - including what Mr. Colciaghi calls "Visioning Sessions" where the project is mapped out from need to execution through post-occupancy.

Mr. Colciaghi cites Francis Cauffman's relocation of Morris James LLP, a substantial Delaware firm, to a new, 60,000 sq ft facility, as an example of this strategy. "Law, like any other business, is changing with a new generation of hires accustomed to technology, collaborative work, and flexible, interactive spaces," he explained. Looking at empirical data from its own research into industry benchmarks, Francis Cauffman designed an airy, communal focus for the new office, reformatting the traditional conference room to include full-height perimeter windows, and an adjacent coffee bar and lounge. The result was an increase in talent, higher retention rate, and greater reach into Wilmington's financial client base.

Francis Cauffman recently used the same integrated business/ design strategy for Fox Rothschild LLP's new New York offices at 100 Park Avenue. Fox Rothschild has been a client from the start and during its rise from a regional, Philadelphia-based organization to a national firm employing over 400 attorneys. Francis Cauffman joined an advisory team working with prominent Philadelphia and New York brokers to locate and design a facility in keeping with the contemporary aesthetic they had helped the firm to assume.

The office includes a modern reception suite and functional back of the house space. The public area consists of various conference and meeting rooms organized with business amenities. Work areas include well-lit, cost-effective space for paralegals and each of the more than 30 attorneys currently staffed. When the building they already occupied began extensive restorations, Francis Cauffman took Fox Rothschild from 8,000 to 29,000 sq ft; it now fills an entire floor.

How did this process work for Francis Cauffman's own new space on East 33rd Street? Mr. Colciaghi related that, "We thought it was going to take a long time to tour and select, and that we would be able to go through the same planning process that we do for clients. In truth, we did our market research, worked with savvy New York realtors, picked the neighborhood we liked, and got very lucky with our space very quickly. Maybe it's because we know our business plan and the players so well that we were able to work so fast."

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