WeWork placed a high priority on architectural designs before the collapse

WeWork once touted a grandiose vision for transforming workplace architecture, from preserving historically significant buildings to filling offices with custom-designed artwork and furnishings.

Co-working provider, which Filed for bankruptcy protection On Monday, she achieved some of her lofty goals. But WeWork’s focus on blazing a trail in design can come at a cost, a cost that has contributed to pressure on its budget.

WeWork has long touted its focus on design. One of its founders, Miguel McKelvey, is a licensed architect. McKelvey and the company’s other co-founder, Adam Neumann, claimed that the increased focus on workplace design is what sets WeWork apart from competitors like IWG’s Regus.

“Everything we do at WeWork must be done with intent and meaning to achieve maximum impact,” Neumann wrote in a 2018 blog post. “This starts with every member space and extends to every building in every city.”

A key tactic in WeWork’s design strategy was to design workspaces from historic properties that appealed to the younger generations that made up a large portion of its membership. WeWork has used buildings with both classic and modern designs.

The historic preservation group WeWork was awarded a prize for its efforts to restore the U.S. Customs House in Portland, Oregon. (costar)

At one point in 2016, a media report estimated that WeWork occupied at least 14 properties in the United States listed on the National Register of Historic Places. David Fano, WeWork’s former chief growth officer, told Fast Company in 2016 that the company prefers older properties to memorial buildings.

“We’re trying to find the right economics, the right owner that wants to work with us, and the right building that has the right elements for our product,” Fano said.

Historic preservation groups have praised WeWork’s efforts, although WeWork’s occupancy of these spaces has often been brief.

Restore Oregon was awarded a WeWork award in 2019 for its restoration of a late 19th century estate US Customs House In downtown Portland. WeWork occupied the space for about four years before vacating it in 2021.

Coworking provider renewal 6001 Cass Ave. In Detroit, the 1920s building was praised by architecture publication Dezeen for “restoring the building to its original splendor and… highlighting the building’s original details.” WeWork closed its office there in October 2022.

the Great Jones The building in Houston, which dates back to 1908, has been renovated by WeWork. It occupied 10 floors there between 2018 and 2021, according to CoStar data.

Modern design was also important to WeWork. Designed by I.M. Pei 9830 Wilshire Blvd. In Beverly Hills, California, it was a WeWork property until it became one It has been removed from the company’s website Advance this month. In a May 2021 blog post, WeWork said it felt an “architectural and design responsibility” to renovate the late-1980s structure, which was once the headquarters of Creative Artists Agency, a company that represents entertainment and sports talent.

“The goal was simple and ambitious: update this postmodern classic and adapt it for two ever-changing industries — entertainment technology and workplace design,” WeWork said in a post on its blog.

WeWork has commissioned artists to create new pieces for its offices, including this mural in the former WeWork space at Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (WeWork)

WeWork’s vision for architecture also extended to the new designs. It appointed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in 2018 as head of architecture. Before WeWork hired him, his company’s notable designs included Via 57 West Apartment building in Manhattan. Engels left WeWork in 2020.

Factors behind WeWork’s bankruptcy included high office vacancy rates due to the pandemic and an overly aggressive growth plan. But the company’s spending on architectural design services also likely played a role.

Its area is in Interlock The Atlanta building was designed with materials “such as fluted glass, stainless steel, anodized metals and concrete,” WeWork said in a December 2022 blog post on its website. “White oak millwork integrated throughout the space helps soften that industrial edge.”

When WeWork agreed in 2019 to acquire 220,000 square feet Dock 72 At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Fogarty hired Finger to design “a large number of community amenities,” according to the Architect’s Journal. This included a health centre, basketball court, juice bar and rooftop deck.

WeWork has used outside architects and interior designers, as well as its own interior design department, to create distinctive offices, like this location in Atlanta. (WeWork)

Art has also been a key element of the WeWork formula. WeWork commissioned four artists to create murals throughout its Dock 72 office space.

“Art can be used to help give identity to a workspace, especially when we commission and design custom pieces,” WeWork says on its website. “Every custom piece of art at WeWork – from wall murals to large-scale sculptures – is selected taking into account its visual context and location.”

WeWork did not disclose its spending on the Dock 72 design project. But a look at its financial reports from that period shows that its spending on architectural services was significant.

WeWork spent $1.4 billion in 2018 on capital expenditures “primarily allocated to the construction and design of our workspaces,” covering its entire real estate portfolio, according to a regulatory filing.

Construction and design work on Dock 72 took place in 2018, and the building opened in October 2019. Neumann resigned as WeWork’s CEO in September 2019, and later that year, WeWork canceled its initial public stock offering after reporting billions of dollars in losses.

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