Loyens and Loeff
From an empty lot to a high-end office block
Should I stay, or should I go?“First of all, we looked at whether we could renovate our old location” said Patrick van Oppen, Loyens & Loeff’s corporate tax services partner and Amsterdam office lead. “That turned out to be unfeasible. CBRE showed us various options –renovation, relocation to an existing building, or starting over with a new build. The analysis showed that our old location didn’t have any perspective for the future. Renovation would not help us move forward as far as we needed to, particularly considering the months of noise and dust we would have to endure, so we started looking elsewhere”.
Cashing-in on a dormant option“We looked at multiple vacant offices and lots together with CBRE. While we were looking around, a ‘dormant’ option suddenly became relevant again. We had an option on a vacant lot on the west side of the Zuidas (Amsterdam business district). The location was not as easily accessible as our current spot but it was still within the Dutch legal and finance heartland. Moreover, we could build something there that was entirely to our specifications. We finally decided that this was the best option”, said van Oppen.
Drawing up requirements with the entire organisationVan Oppen realised that a bare piece of land does not really speak to the imagination. “We didn’t see enthusiasm right across the board from the start. In order to involve our colleagues in the process, we asked each other what requirements the new building should meet. There were highly varied answers to this question. Some looked at the building through the eyes of a visitor, while others were more focused on workstations. Then we designed a plan of requirements together and refined that further with CBRE”.
A complete plan on the drawing boardThis plan of requirements still needed consent from the city, said van Oppen. “They too had requirements for our project. One condition, for instance, was that the building had to be 80m high so that it would seamlessly blend into the landscape. In addition to
9PROPRIETARY & CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION©2022CBRE, INC. our office, there also had to be commercial purpose. CBRE took an inventory of all of these points before putting out a tender to developers”.
Pitch rounds for the interior and exteriort was time to take the next step when we had a complete series of requirements –inviting project developers to present a concept. There were 3 parties that pitched in the end. “The design for ‘Hourglass’ was the winner. A building with a warm, classical and international look that also offered space for a 5-star, long-stay, hotel and restaurant that fulfilled the required commercial purpose”. Since Hourglass would be delivered in a shell state, we also needed to involve an interior architect. Loyens & Loeff followed the same approach with that. “Firstly, we invited a tender based on our requirements. Then we formed a long list from the submissions from which we created a short list. Asbefore, we had 3 remaining parties that pitched”.
Choosing the best-of-3 interiorsCBRE organised all 3 pitches on the same day. “It was very inspiring to see your own ideas translated into a design in different ways”, said van Oppen. “It was a tough decision, but luckily CBRE guided us toward a decision: which of the interiors met our requirements the best, and which of the designs was the strongest expression of our identity”. “We finally selected a design that exuded quality and transparency at all levels. CBRE took this plan to the architect and project developers to ensure that the interior concept fit in with the overall plans. They ensured that adjustments were made by the involved parties where needed, which required a complex balancing act to get all the individual requirements and plans to fit together in one harmonious whole”.
CBRE kept all parties togetherBuilding the shell began in 2017. “The developer took the lead in this, but CBRE performed the technical inspections and ensured that the build met the brief” said van Oppen. “They also represented us at all the alignment meetings. In order to save time, we began the interior build 2 years later while the shell build was still going on. CBRE coordinated this process and kept the overview, informed us, and safeguarded plans and budgets. That helped us stay in control of the project without having to dedicate our own time and energy to working on it”.
A quick gear-shift to ‘corona mode’The Hourglass building, with its state-of-the-art interior, opened its doors in September 2020 –right in the middle of the ‘year of corona’. “As a society, we had more freedom during the summer months, but everyone was back to working from home as of October” said van Oppen. Luckily we were able to quickly shift gears in part due to our new offices. It is better equipped to deal with flexible work than our previous location. All of our colleagues could take a laptop home”.
A hybrid future?Just as many other organisations do, Loyens & Loeffalso envision a future of hybrid work with everyone alternating between home and office. “The office remains our core”, said van Oppen. ‘The fact that colleagues meet and work together is the backbone of our culture. It’s particularly important for junior consultants to be present in person; that also gives them the opportunity to overhear, for instance, a phone conversation between their mentor and a challenging client. That’s incredibly instructive and leads to growth. We remain in conversation with CBRE to correctly organise a hybrid return to office life”.
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