Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bechtel's Reston office will provide less than 150 GSF per worker which is less than half the County planning standard..

In an article in this week's Fairfax Times, Gregg MacDonald reports that Bechtel plans to move about 1,000 workers from its Frederick, MD, office to Reston early next year. 
As many as 1,000 new Bechtel jobs may be coming to Reston in 2015, but nearly 250 Sprint jobs in Reston and Herndon will be leaving permanently by Nov. 7. . .
“Markets are changing and it’s crucial for us to adapt so that we can continue to deliver the world-class projects customers expect from us,” said Bill Dudley, Bechtel’s chief executive officer.
According to Bechtel spokesperson Michelle Michael, many of the Maryland-based jobs will be moving to Reston, where Bechtel already employs approximately 900 workers.
"We have approximately 1,100 people in Frederick,” said Michael. “Of the positions being moved, most will come to Reston. The exact number and timing have not yet been determined.” Michael said the reorganization, which will better meet the needs of Bechtel customers, is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2015.
A correction to the article (actually, more of an explanation) states that "a majority of workers from Bechtel's Frederick office are relocating."

And we find out from the website of the company that retrofit the Reston office space  for Bechtel, GPI/Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., that these employees are moving into 188,000 square feet of office space.  In fact, GPI provides a fairly detailed description of the space and the challenges of remodeling:

GPI provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection design services for the 188,000-sq-ft new offices in Reston, Va. GPI worked closely with Hickok Cole Architects. Bechtel occupies space in two buildings. Building 1 includes 112,000 sq ft of office space plus a 5,000-sq-ft conference center; Building 2 includes 71,000 sq ft of office space. The office space includes a mix of offices and workstations along with standard support areas, pantries, storage, conference rooms, small sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) area, and intermediate distribution frame/main distribution frame (IDF/MDF) rooms. The project earned LEED Silver certification and won the 2013 NAIOP Northern Virginia Best Interiors for Tenant Space 50,000 SF and Above Award of Excellence. Engineering challenges the design team faced included surveying occupied office space, phasing of demolition and new work to accommodate partially occupied spaces, coordinating low plenum clearances with new work, multiple IDF and server room designs, and providing cooling/heating to accommodate high-density conference rooms.
Not only does this office space include desk space for workers, it includes a 5,000 SF conference center, a SCIF, and a variety of support facilities.  This is a truly "Class A" office building arrangement--the kind of space any corporation would be glad to have.

So how much gross square footage (GSF) does each employee occupty?  300 GSF as the County insists should be the standard, or much less reflecting 21st century office leasing efficiences?

Here's our calculation:
  • The leased space equals 188,000 square feet which, by our calculation, translates into about 214,000 gross square feet.
  • The number of employes who will be working there includes the 900 already there plus a majority of the 1,100 now working at Frederick (we'll say 600, but it could be more) for a total of 1,500 employees
  • Dividing the 214,000 GSF by the 1,500 employees, we learn that Bechtel will have not more than 142 GSF per worker--less than half the standard used by Fairfax County for planning office space density.  
As we have said before, using the 300 GSF/worker standard means the County will be providing less than half the infrastructure--primarily transportation--than the number of employees in Reston's and Tysons' transit station areas will require as these two employment centers evolve to their potential.  Then, of course, it will have to fix its mistake with even more expensive retrofits of its own--where possible.

The result of this calculation and its implications reminds us of the "7Ps" of planning, which actually have several variations:

  • Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
  • Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
  • Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
  • Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance
  • Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
  • Positive Pre-Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
  • Proper Planning and Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance
For the record, the last variant on this list is our favorite: It's not just planning, it's execution--which County plans do not address at all.

So what do you think will happen in Reston and Tysons as a result of County planning and practice???

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