Investing in Quality: IPUT’s New Dublin HQ
IPUT is Ireland’s premier commercial real estate fund, with over 5Msf of real estate under management, and the largest owner of prime commercial property in Dublin’s city centre. Following several years of growth, the company had doubled in size and needed a new office to accommodate that growth and reflect the level of quality occupiers can expect from an IPUT building.
“We had an opportunity to move into a space that was within our portfolio,” says Niall Gaffney, IPUT chief executive. “The move to St. Stephen’s Green reflects both the ambition and personality of our business. We are authentic about promoting quality design across our estate and, in doing so, we recognise that thoughtful design will serve to improve the well-being of people.”
Designed by MCA Architects, the 6,500sf new offices include all the features and amenities of a modern workplace, from an open, bright layout to a multitude of options for formal or informal collaboration in meeting rooms, private spaces, a kitchen and cafeteria or the 25-meter balcony overlooking the green. The office’s state-of-the-art technology has also been a “game-changer” for the team, says Gaffney. “Our meeting rooms have interactive touchscreens, which is something we didn’t have before,” he says. “The level of collaboration that has afforded us has been a real bonus.”
WELL ON THEIR WAY
IPUT’s new office is also leading the way when it comes to employee wellness, on track to become Dublin’s first WELL-certified building. Aiming for WELL Gold status, the office includes such features as a lighting system designed in line with circadian rhythms, abundant natural light, optimised indoor air quality, fabric-wrapped panels and acoustic dividing screens to help decrease noise, flexible, ergonomic furniture and other amenities that, as a whole, were designed with the employee in mind.
“Our design focus on this project was quality, and the WELL standard tied into that,” says Paul Cleary, IPUT project manager. “We also wanted staff to understand this. For instance, employees can log into a website and see, in real time, the temperature, humidity and other factors in the office’s air.”
With its new space, IPUT had a vision to create a high-quality, healthy environment that promotes collaboration and comfort for its employees. Pursuing WELL certification fit into that vision nicely and is helping IPUT confirm that those goals were achieved.
“We’ve taken this opportunity to demonstrate in our own office that we’re serious about how we finish out buildings, about our environmental impact, about our employees,’’ says Gaffney. “We’re showing people what they get when they commit to our buildings.”
Because the IPUT space was one of the first in Dublin to pursue WELL, the project team had to quickly familiarize themselves with the standard and what implications it has on design and construction.
“It did take some early coordination to make sure we all understood what we were looking to achieve,” says Derek Slattery, Structure Tone project manager. “But for the most part it just meant working with some new systems and understanding the stringent controls around certain elements.”
Also helping the cause was Structure Tone’s WELL experience in the States. The firm’s New York office had recently achieved WELL certification, and the
company was already working on several WELL projects in the US.
“It’s a lot like when LEED was new. We were able to leverage our global experience to apply lessons learned to new projects,” says James Reidy, Structure Tone managing director in Dublin. “We did the same thing in this case, using our US colleagues as a resource and bringing some of that understanding to bear if we ran into questions.”
What’s most important to IPUT, however, isn’t necessarily the formal certification. It’s the understanding they are fostering among their staff, their partners and the market that they are a company who does what’s best for people.
“Whether we had our office certified or not, we’d still be doing what’s right for employee wellness,” Gaffney says. “It’s not necessarily a new concept. Companies who look after their staff get the best productivity from them. People are having a bit more fun being in their space, and that’s probably the best thing about it.”
Architect: MCA Architects
Engineer: Homan O’Brien
Services: Construction Management
Completion: February 2018
Certification: WELL Certified Gold (pending)
Photography courtesy of Donal Murphy Photo.