Over the past century, the workplace has continuously evolved to meet the changing needs and desires of users. Primarily, a philosophical shift has occurred from viewing real estate as assets or liabilities, to recognizing their value in employee recruitment, productivity, wellness, and lifestyle.
Largely driven by the millennial workforce, today’s workplace environments engage and energize their employees. Spacious and open floor plans that allow for higher seating density and infusion of daylight have become commonplace, as have offices that are bright, comfortable, healthy, and have access to building amenities such as conference centers, fitness facilities, green spaces, dining, and retail.
As design professionals, we recognize our role in engineering cost-effective structural solutions sensitive to these demands. Minimizing perimeter columns and spandrel beam depth through the use of materials and core-based lateral framing systems is a very effective technique at maximizing usable square footage and increasing daylight penetration, allowing glazing systems to open the workplace and lobbies and provide a sense of being outdoors.
Our role as engineers and designers is also changing as building performance and enclosure design become increasingly important. Enclosure engineering integrates the primary building structure with modern specialty façade systems to allow for customized, high-performance solutions that optimize the structural capacities of each system, reduce overall project costs, and increase energy efficiency. The engineer’s responsibility for enclosure design will continue to intensify.