JPMorgan Chase Talks New Standards for Office at Inaugural Women in Real Estate Event

While much is uncertain about the future of the office, it’s clear any successful office building will need to facilitate collaboration and connection. JPMorgan Chase’s groundbreaking new building at 270 Park Avenue in New York City is being designed with exactly these considerations in mind.

The new all-electric, 60-story skyscraper will boast net-zero operational emissions 100% powered by renewable energy. Intelligent building technology will deploy sensors allowing AI and machine learning systems to predict, respond to, and adapt to all of 270 Park Avenue’s energy needs.

The building serves as a blueprint for the industry on how to build for the future of office, with features including 2.5 million square feet of flexible and collaborative space focused on health, wellness and hospitality, plus world-class employee and client events. The trend is clear: more room to work with others in a healthy, collaborative, comfortable and welcoming environment.

Judy Guarino, Managing Director for Commercial Term Lending at JPMorgan Chase, recently hosted a Women in Real Estate (WIRE) event where the importance of connection in the workplace was a key takeaway. Partner Insights spoke with Guarino about the importance of connection, and how 270 Park Avenue is being designed with exactly this in mind.

Commercial Observer: How have you seen commercial real estate evolve, and how is it different from at the start of your career?

Judy Guarino: The status and number of women in commercial real estate have both evolved significantly since I started in the business over two decades ago, and they’re continuing to grow. There are more women pursuing education courses in commercial real estate, learning trades in development, and applying for internships in the industry. Also, more daughters of owners and developers want to pursue the family business. 

What prompted you to host the inaugural New York WIRE event?

I wanted to provide a networking opportunity for women who work in commercial real estate, give them a chance to make connections with peers, and discuss the common opportunities and challenges we face today. One attendee, Melissa Cosgrove Donohoe from Cannon Hill Capital Partners, said, “This event is what it’s all about! I wanted our new hire to network with women in our industry. I remember when I was young and what it felt like finding my way and learning how my opinion as a woman matters.” We filled the room with women CPAs, architects, property owners, developers, attorneys, contractors, and more.  The environment made it easy to engage and to get to know one another.

Host and Guest Speakers 2 7 JPMorgan Chase Talks New Standards for Office at Inaugural Women in Real Estate Event
Photo: Albert Cheung / FRAME

The event was packed, and a big reason is because people need to connect in-person with others in the industry. That’s something a lot of people missed during the first few years of the pandemic, which made this really such a memorable experience.

I also wanted our guests to hear updates on the new JPMorgan Chase headquarters. The discussions around this really emphasized the importance of the office because, again, businesses realize how important it is for mentorship and the growth of our future leaders. Being in the office, collaborating and connecting, is so important.

What are some of the most important changes you believe will be part of the future of the office?

There are going to be more open floor plans and spaces for people to work together. In older buildings, everybody wanted an office. They were 12-by-12 and then 10-by-10, and there was dark wood and conference rooms. But millennials and the next generation are very social, so now it’s all about being able to connect. That’s why there have to be open floor plans and areas for people to gather and collaborate. 

What are some features property investors should consider before acquiring properties if they’re looking to future-proof buildings?

From an investment standpoint, it’s all about the numbers. So it’s going to come down to what the cost will be to retrofit these buildings to be more appealing and to compete with new buildings. You have to consider things like changing the floor plates for a more open floor plan, and to have collaborative space, and maybe amenities like a fitness center. Everything’s becoming more expensive, so that could be a challenge.

We don’t see a lot of office being sold today because the costs to make changes are so high. A lot of it will come down to timing the market. The office sector is in kind of a wait-and-see mode right now. But I do believe more people want to be in the office, and with that the office market will continue to improve.

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