Brokers and designers: a symbiotic relationship creating happy tenants

December 19, 2016 Barbara Savage

Interior designers understand how to take advantage of building efficiency, and that’s a win for everyone


Think for a moment about how many people in the world work in an office environment. It’s a lot—millions and millions of people. It might even be the most common environment in which people work. But how many of those office workers ever give a moment’s thought to what went into the creation of their workspace? Long before the ergonomic chairs were unwrapped and the computer screens were turned on, there was a lot of planning that went into the creation of that office space. And it most likely started with a commercial real estate broker.

It’s common knowledge that both small and large companies use the services of a commercial real estate broker during their search for office space. But what most don’t realize is the importance of the relationship between the broker and the architect or interior designer who will work on the project. An effective collaboration between the two can make or break a project. How? An architect or interior design consultant can guide the client in selecting the right site, planning the project, and managing their expectations. Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous brokers and delivered dozens of successful projects to happy tenants. In today’s workplace atmosphere, many brokers see the value in bringing the designer in to help streamline the process – and the earlier the better.   

Landlords typically use their own architect for Test Fit plans – which are floor plans used to confirm that the program requirements can be met within the space. Whether tenants are looking for new space, expanding existing space, or downsizing in place, using the same designer to create all of the Test Fit plans means a better comparison of the options. For example, our team guided Tripp Scott (a law firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL) through a multi-phased renovation and expansion of a space the firm had occupied for 15 years. We allocated one office size for all lawyers, partners, and associates to allow for maximum efficiency and modular furniture was selected for support positions to provide flexibility for future growth. This proper, up-front planning led to the firm increasing their headcount while still occupying the same amount of space – saving both costs AND headaches! 



A consultant is sometimes better equipped than a broker to speak to the efficiency of a building or floor plate, and this knowledge ultimately impacts the cost of the space. So calculating (accurately) how many square feet a tenant will need is imperative. And building efficiency can have a bigimpact on cost, as well. A tenant that needs 15,000 usable square feet (USF) in Building A may be able to use only 14,000 USF in Building B, just because of better column layout, window spacing, and depth of floorplate. At $30+/rentable square feet (RSF), that’s a tremendous difference over the life of the lease, and that’s only one area where a designer’s value is seen.


We provided color-coded test fit plans for Tripp Scott to help them increase headcount and save cost on rental square feet


Brokers also frequently ask our workplace design group to help them close a deal or solve a problem. Why? Because we can answer questions about the permitting process, timelines, construction challenges, building code requirements, ADA compliance, or other design or construction-related issues. These challenges can seriously impact a broker (and tenants) bottom line - so why not involve us as early as possible?

It’s also important that brokers and designers are on the same page when it comes to project budget and schedule. Accurately communicating the projected milestones, budget limitations, and expectations about hard and soft costs are important to establish at the beginning of a project. Also, keeping an open dialogue throughout the process can be invaluable to delivering a successful project.  

In the end, we want the same thing that brokers do - happy tenants. So, let’s collaborate early in the process to pass along time and money savings to our clients! 

About the Author

Barbara Savage

Barbara is a passionate interior designer whose expertise in workplace design is founded in her knowledge of commercial real estate. Business owners, property managers, and brokers alike rely on her ability to design efficient and creative spaces, which in turns help to showcase and market their corporate offices, vision, and brand. With a strong interest in the technical aspect of projects, Barbara enjoys collaborating with clients and contractors to translate a design vision into a buildable form. Overseeing production and delivery on some of the Miami team’s largest projects, Barbara is constantly called upon to lend her skills to tackle unique challenges in the field.

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