corporateinteriors

Blue Foundry Bank’s New HQ Supports Seamless Blending of Personalized Banking Practices with Progressive Vision and Collaborative Culture

Blue Foundry Bank’s New HQ Supports Seamless Blending of Personalized Banking Practices with Progressive Vision and Collaborative Culture 789 444 DMR Architects

While many businesses are downsizing and relying on technology to keep people connected, Blue Foundry Bank’s new DMR-designed headquarters is a physical embodiment of the bank’s new branding and business plan that encourages the personal relationships and visionary ideas that can only be created from face-to-face interactions.

Through a progressive office design statement, this new paradigm for professional environments was designed to encourage ingenuity through a highly customized interior design concept, and on-site creature comforts not traditionally seen in New Jersey office environments.

Just as Blue Foundry’s corporate vision is to create unique and personalized solutions for its clients, the DMR team designed the new facility so that each of its 40,000 square feet can be functional for the tailored needs of its staff, while maintaining a sense of community through appropriate proportions and an intuitive circulation.

Impressive design elements cover nearly every square foot of the office, through program, finishes, furniture, and layout such as 14 different ceiling types; non-assigned reservable stations with sit/stand desks; and a reduced number of private offices, with those offices more toward the center.  Unusual amenities also include a wellness room, lounges with fire features, and a cafeteria with dispensers for wine, beer and kombucha.

“We have found that our staff is excited to come to a workplace that is a showpiece,” said James Nesci, President and CEO of Blue Foundry.  “DMR has created an experiential and comforting environment where our staff have the space and services to satisfy their personal preferences and projects.”

“Our design meetings with Jim and his team were not only about where they wanted walls, windows and stairwells; they were about creating the physical embodiment of Blue Foundry’s culture of collaboration, flexibility and connectivity,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO.  “There are a lot of areas that can be used regularly and for many purposes; intimate meetings, team brainstorms and larger staff meetings and trainings, as well as during breaks and after-hours. The design provides flexibility so that no matter how an employee chooses to work, collaborate, gather, or entertain there is an energetic and stimulating space to do so.”

The new facility complements DMR’s design of branch locations for Blue Foundry—which are also a departure from the current bank retail world in which the customer might do their business without encountering another person—supporting the financial institution’s intent to provide reasons for its customers to extend their visit to the branch.

Architects on Pandemic Designs

Architects on Pandemic Designs 960 540 DMR Architects

Architects have been assisting businesses with their COVID-19 workplace concerns, but are vaccines creating optimism for an office return to normal?

Kimmerle Harding Office

The Kimmerle Group’s office in Harding Township has been outfitted to better protect employees during the pandemic.

BY ANTHONY BIRRITTERI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

While commercial property landlords and businesses that own and operate their own facilities have been busy this past year retrofitting workspaces to protect employees from contracting COVID-19, the promise of vaccines and the hope of a return to normal in the near future means design work has not drastically changed for architectural firms.

“Businesses seem to be happy thinking they are going to return back to normal at some point. Everyone is defaulting to the vaccines,” says George Kimmerle, founding president and partner of the Kimmerle Group, the Harding Township-based architectural firm which consists of Kimmerle Newman Architects, the Urban Studio, and Branding Studio.

Kimmerle says his firm is “incredibly busy.” However, recalling the first few months of the pandemic, he says, “Everyone thought the world was going to come to an end: It didn’t. People worked and adapted and continued to find ways to connect with one another.”

He explains that even during a pandemic, building leases (which come to term every 5, 7 or 10 years, depending on the contract) continue to turn, no matter what goes on in the economy. When that happens, architecture and design firms are called in to refurbish facilities. “So we are in this whole queue of work that repeats and repeats,” Kimmerle says.

William Kimmerle, George’s son and a principal at the firm, is involved in office planning work for clients throughout New Jersey and New York City. He comments that long-term lease outlooks, which normally take into account employment growth and space needs over a three-to-seven-year time frame, now are short 18-month outlooks, taking into consideration when workplaces will return to normal densities.

With that, design changes have been occurring in the workplace this past year.

Meghan Barlotta, senior director of workspace at Kimmerle, says panel heights dividing workstations have increased to provide clients with more privacy and, hopefully, protection. She adds that more antimicrobial fabrics are being used. “We are also applying more wipeable fabrics to furniture, but we haven’t moved to solid-surface workplaces, which we all thought we were heading toward,” she says.

William Kimmerle’s concern is more with air systems than six-foot distancing measures.  “Once you are in a space and the HVAC system is running, you are all in the same air, whether you are 6 feet or 12 feet away,” he says.

High-density filtration is key in combatting the problem, he explains. What landlords are asking for today are Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) air filters rated between 11 to 13. The higher the number, the greater the ability for filters to capture particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm).

While a filter that is rated between MERVE 1-4 will capture 20% of particles that are 3.0 – 10.0 microns, a MERV filter with a 12 rating, for example, would capture 90% of these micron particles.

Companies are also implementing ion technology in HVAC systems, where an ion rod spins in the ductwork. “That ionizes the molecules in the air and neutralizes viruses and bacteria,” William Kimmerle says.

Lloyd A. Rosenberg, president and CEO at DMR Architects in Hasbrouck Heights, explains his firm is also helping clients with similar filtration technologies. Additionally, he says UV lighting is being installed to kill viruses. He also mentions changing inoperable windows to operable ones to access outdoor fresh air, and installing more hands-free technologies for doors, sinks and toilets, etc.

Like Kimmerle Group, work has remained stable, and has even increased at DMR Architects during the pandemic. Interestingly, only 20% of the firm’s work has been COVID related, Rosenberg says.

With some 200 active projects, some of which will take years to complete, he says clients have an understanding and hope that with a vaccine, “people will be back to work this year … and get back to some type of normalcy in 2021.”

When asked about remote working and how that will impact office space, Rosenberg sees it as a mixed bag: “Some businesses have decreased their space because they have people working from home, while others are increasing their space to allow for more separation.”

For residential developments, especially apartments, Rosenberg says his firm is designing alcove spaces that people can use for home offices. “A typical apartment is between 800 to 1,500 square feet. With that, one is most likely working on the kitchen or dining room table, or some other space that is not convenient. So, we are designing dedicated workspaces in apartments without enlarging the square footage of the unit. It’s all about thinking ahead for people who might be working from home in the future,” he says.

When asked if the pre-pandemic trend of urbanization is being impacted due to the pandemic and the fear of being in dense, populated settings, Rosenberg says that a “snapshot” of the last few months shows that living in a [suburban] setting, where people can drive to work, is more convenient than taking mass transit [into a city] and dealing with more congestion. Additionally, he says people living in high rises are less apt to go into the office because they are wary of using the stairs or elevators in their buildings.

“However, all of this is going to change,” Rosenberg adds. “Within a couple of months, we will have corrected that. … People will be back to where they were. … I believe this is temporary blip in our social environment.”

The Healthcare Front

Stopping and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare facilities literally has architects working at ground zero in the effort to save lives.

Specializing in this area, as well as nursing homes, senior care centers, and educational facilities, is New Brunswick-based DI Group Architecture.

According to Vince Myers, president, CFO and co-founder of the firm, when the pandemic hit, hospitals knew what they had to do. “Right out of the gate, they knew that a big part of the problem was virus containment, and the way to do that was negative pressurization in rooms so that the virus is contained within a specified area,” he says.

In a negative pressure room, the air pressure inside the room is lower than the air pressure outside the room. Therefore, when a door is opened, potentially contaminated air in the room will not flow outside into non-contaminated areas.

Negative pressurization is also being used for entire hospital wings, Myers explains, adding that MERV 13 filters, as previously mentioned, are also must items.

With more patient room doors now being closed, Myers says hospitals are also asking for modified doors with cut window glass panels.

Additionally, while two patients per room had been the norm on most hospital floors, DI Group is being tasked with redesigning rooms for single-person use on floors that have been converted into COVID units.

This also means that overall hospital capacity has decreased. “That’s the challenge, not for just hospitals, but for all market sectors in order to create separation,” Myers says. “It’s true in hospitals, senior care facilities and educational facilities.”

Regarding educational facilities, the DI Group works with several school districts throughout the state. “They all have the same problem … how to bring children safely back to school,” Myers says.

“One district that wanted to keep the educational ball rolling knew that the issue had to do with space; not keeping children in a classroom all day, but taking advantage of outdoor learning, re-envisioning the courtyard, taking field trips, or using libraries and multipurpose rooms. So we are doing all of that,” Myers says.

He explains that prior to COVID-19, everything at an educational facility was geared toward security and one point of entrance. “However, when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t have children funneling through one door. We now have to use every entrance to the building. Why? Because we have to keep children separated while getting them into the building on time.”

He adds that different corridors in school buildings are now being used for one-way traffic, creating one-way air circulation.

While architects explain that most of their clients expect a return to normal, Myers says there will still be challenges by the end of 2021.

“The vaccine will not solve all of the problems all at once,” he says. “However, there are some lessons learned; some best practices that we should think about instituting going forward. If we are smart, we will know that another pandemic will be in our future. However, we now know how to deal with some of these things. … We sort of wrote the plan.”

This article originally appears in New Jersey Business

Real estate predictions 2021

Real estate predictions 2021 2000 1125 DMR Architects

(Excerpt)

The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed some aspects of commercial real estate while lifted others up. Its impact is too great — and still too uncertain — to pass judgment just yet.

So, we asked a number of influencers in commercial real estate to look into the future and predict its impact on commercial real estate in 2021.

Here are their thoughts:

Lloyd Rosenberg, CEO, DMR Architects

The ubiquitous open floor plan can easily adapt for social distancing with new workstation and benching layouts, and by incorporating software to control maximum occupancy loads. Building owners and employers can also improve ventilation by installing UV lighting or Bi-Polar Ionization air purification in their HVAC systems, and we anticipate outdoor areas playing a bigger role in our designs to encourage higher use. We’ll see more touchless technology like heat scanners at building entryways and automatic interior door openers. We also anticipate clients looking for ways to decrease the need for employees to come back and forth throughout the day, with flexible spaces so that they can offer employees meals, fitness and communication options.

This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in ROI-NJ

New DMR-Designed Blue Foundry Bank Experience Debuts in Rutherford

New DMR-Designed Blue Foundry Bank Experience Debuts in Rutherford 789 444 DMR Architects

Blue Foundry Bank’s Rutherford location redesigned by DMR Architects has opened at 19 Park Ave. reflecting the bank’s reinvention as the banking option of today’s movers and shakers.  Blue Foundry Bank offers a full service, crafted banking experience.

DMR worked with the financial institution on a design that reflects the bank’s brand through an open floor plan and a more connected approach to banking, replacing traditional physical divisions such as counters and desks with Universal Bankers, supporting an environment conducive to helping customers plan for their financial success. The branch also includes space for community collaborations.

The aesthetic in the 1,600 square foot branch incorporates elements of the bank’s  industrial history with exposed brick, steel, distressed wood, and concrete wall panels. The location features curated pieces of art, an art deco moss wall, three-dimensional logos, and modern new ATM designs.

“Our reimagined Rutherford branch experience and design elements represent Blue Foundry Bank’s new brand and commitment to the hard-working businesses and individuals that we serve in Northern New Jersey,” said James D. Nesci, President and CEO of Blue Foundry Bank. “At Blue Foundry Bank, we look beyond providing financial services. Our new location will serve as a hub for strengthening the Rutherford community, and we look forward to deepening our footprint in this wonderful town.”

“People want to feel comfortable—like they’re sharing their vision with a trusted confidante, not just entering into a transaction—when discussing their personal and professional financial goals,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO for DMR Architects. “By stepping away from the almost clinical banking décor, Blue Foundry has made an intelligent business decision that will set them apart when today’s investor shops for an banking institution.”

The changing work habits caused by COVID-19 could give NJ suburban office space a boost

The changing work habits caused by COVID-19 could give NJ suburban office space a boost 960 540 DMR Architects

by Melanie Anzidei

For nearly four months, a large chunk of New Jersey has been working from home.

Now, even though the state’s reopening is on pause, employers are preparing for an eventual return to the workplace — and experts familiar with the North Jersey suburban office market are predicting the suburbs may see an unexpected boost from the pandemic.

That’s because, with the threat of COVID-19 unlikely to subside in coming months, employers will be forced to adapt to a new normal — a more flexible work environment.

“A key question now is, with the pandemic, are we going to see a renewed suburban office market?” said James Hughes, a Rutgers professor and dean emeritus of the school’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. “It’s not going to go back to what it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the demand for satellite offices and the like — where employees could spend one or two days a week at home, one or two days at the satellite office, and then one at the headquarters building — may be the new pattern.”

Meanwhile, the pandemic is also accelerating trends, like more flexible work-from-home policies, which have already started to change the way developers design new residential rental space.

One of Mountain Development Corporation's suburban office complexes in Woodland Park.
Michael Allen Seeve, president of Mountain Development Corp., a commercial real estate developing firm based in Woodland Park, has experienced an uptick in interest from Manhattan-based employers who have signed multi-year leases on small suburban spaces, generally under 10,000-square-feet. The employers, he said, are interested in finding office space where a large concentration of their employees live — including areas like Chatham in Morris County, Woodland Park in Passaic County and Stamford, Connecticut.

“We’ve actually seen a lot of interest from companies that were based in Manhattan and like the idea of having a space closer to some of their employees’ homes,” Seeve said. “We’ve had some real activity in a lot of our buildings for smaller spaces for just that kind of user, and if that’s a trend that continues, that could be very positive for the suburbs.”

Although many companies have been operating remotely since New Jersey and New York’s stay at home orders were issued in March, businesses have been preparing for their employees’ eventual return over the past month, Seeve said. At Mountain Development, tenants have asked about protocols for cleaning, mask enforcement, air conditioning filters, limiting capacity on elevators, handling mail, and related concerns, although it remains unclear when employees will repopulate office space.

“They’re not going to reoccupy with everyone at once,” Seeve said. “Some people will continue to work at home, and some people will come back to the office — and they may do it in teams or in phases.”

New designs for the home office

The change in work culture, which emphasized more flexibility to work from home, has also influenced residential design. Some firms are designing spaces for future homeowners with those cultural shifts in mind, said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, president and chief executive of DMR Architects, an architectural and urban design firm based in Hasbrouck Heights.

In these instances, the design could include devoting a separate area entirely for working at home, rather than using a bedroom as a makeshift office, Rosenberg said. This new kind of design can be an upgrade from what many have been doing in recent months, like working from their kitchen island or dining room table.

Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR.

The emphasis on flexibility and remote work is likely to accelerate trends in work culture that were already in motion, said Hughes, the Rutgers professor.

“It’s sort of a gasoline on the fire accelerant,” he said. “It’s accelerating trends that had been in force, but rapidly increasing the pace of change. The most obvious is working at home. But what probably would have happened over five years may be compressed into six months to a year.

“Firms are going to have to rethink how work is going to take place in many businesses,” Hughes said.

Fewer group spaces, the return of private offices?

While the pandemic has made remote work the standard for many businesses overnight, some employees may be eager to get back to the office, where certain tasks might be easier to complete. For that reason, Hughes predicts that some companies will invest in satellite suburban offices to serve as resource centers or areas to collaborate — and which are easier to get to than a company’s city headquarters.

“It’s not simply working at home versus working at a central office,” Hughes said. “I think we’re going to see that more dispersed, multi-locational pattern for a number of companies, and that’s going to work to the advantage of New Jersey’s aging suburban office inventory.”

Social distancing guidelines will also impact office culture, Hughes said. Companies will likely set in place scattered schedules. And social distancing will jettison the trend of shared office spaces and collaborative work environments that employers recently introduced to appeal to younger employees, like millennials.

The emphasis on suburbs by large corporations is reminiscent of the 1980s in New Jersey, when the state experienced what Hughes described as a “massive suburban office boom.” At that time, employees were fleeing Manhattan.

“New York City was hemorrhaging jobs. It had a fiscal crisis. There were drug problems and the like. Corporate America was fleeing to the suburbs, and so we had a massive office building boom,” Hughes said. “Eighty percent of all the office space ever built in the history of New Jersey went up during that ten-year period, from 1980 to 1990.”

Eventually, the rise of 21st century technology marked the beginning of the end for the suburban office parks of the 1980s in Bergen County. Many of the spaces that were built during the office boom became outdated, and in recent years developers have re-purposed these areas for new uses, as distribution centers, retail and housing developments, said Hughes.

Yet before the pandemic, the New Jersey office market was generally strong, thanks to a robust economy that resulted in employee hiring, Seeve said. However, the economy has since taken a nosedive with the coronavirus pandemic — some of Seeve’s tenants have canceled leases because they went out of business.

Still, Seeve said those in the sector have been working collaboratively to navigate the pandemic as best they can. And, he cautioned, the suburbs can only thrive if Manhattan, too, recovers from the financial fallout of COVID-19.

“As difficult as it feels right now, I suspect that New York will bounce back and turn into a slightly different, but still spectacular city soon enough,” Seeve said. “It’s great to see a surge of activity in the suburbs, but not at the expense of New York. The suburbs exist in sympathy with New York, not in competition with New York, so it’s important, I think, for New York to enjoy a recovery as soon as possible.”

This article originally appears on NorthJersey.com.

DMR Celebrates Opening of SB One Banking Center in Weehawken

DMR Celebrates Opening of SB One Banking Center in Weehawken 789 444 DMR Architects

On July 27 DMR joined SB One Bank, clients and the local community to celebrate the bank’s 14th New Jersey location and first banking center in Hudson County at The Avenue Collection luxury condominium complex at Port Imperial in Weehawken.

Following the bank’s rebranding in 2018, SB One Bank (formerly Sussex Bank) hired DMR to create the physical manifestation of SB One’s mission to provide a more personal banking experience without the separation by counters, desks and glass windows that are seen in more traditional banking layouts.

The new concept starts with an airy palette and includes half-moon booths in high end finishes to provide a luxury retail experience in a private and comfortable environment for customers providing personal information. The layout located the conference room at the corner of The Avenue at Port Imperial and City View Drive for meeting participants to enjoy SB One Bank’s view of the waterfront and New York City skyline.

“At SB One Bank, we understand that each customer’s needs are not only unique but they require a personal touch,” Vito Giannola, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer for SB One Bank, said. “This branch design allows us to embrace technology and integrate personalized service.”

DMR Supports SB One Bank Rebranding with Interior Design of its Weehawken Location

DMR Supports SB One Bank Rebranding with Interior Design of its Weehawken Location 150 150 DMR Architects

SB One Bank recently retained DMR to design their new banking center in Weehawken, the bank’s 14th New Jersey location. The banking center is located within The Avenue Collection luxury condominium complex at Port Imperial, and when complete, will be the first new location to open since the bank formerly known as Sussex Bank rebranded in early 2018.

DMR was commissioned to design the banking center, which will serve as a prototype design for future banking center renovations. The design supports the bank’s focus on providing a private, intimate experience for employees and customers to collaborate on higher-level needs, a break from a more traditional banking interactions which often are more transactional and impersonal, and where customers and bankers are frequently physically separated by counters or desks, and in some cases, windows.

“While online banking can address many customers’ needs, financial investment and saving is still a very personal matter,” Vito Giannola, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer for SB One, said.  “DMR created a welcoming environment where our team members can create on-on-one relationships with clients and customize their banking needs.”

“While many might think that customers are turning away from physical banking center locations, recent research into customer preferences actually found that despite the impact of technological advances, customers still value and desire human interactions when dealing with higher-level concerns. This, coupled with security concerns, is leading to a trend in people returning to the banks,” Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, President and CEO, said.  “The SB One Weehawken banking center renovation is a prototype space that supports an experience that customers can’t get online or in other banking institutions.”