Why Commercial Real Estate Developers Need to Prioritize Amenities & "Social Spaces"

As our work environment and retail experience has been evolving so has been our strategies to design them. 

No longer is a simple coffee shop in the office lobby or a food court in a shopping center an amenity that the consumers expects.  The work environment has blurred the line between work and social interaction.  Creative amenity spaces have become part of what defines a class A environment that companies want to provide to their employees.

It’s what Google has been doing for years for their employees to retain them longer and to create an energetic and productive environment.  Retail spaces have been experiencing a similar, but different evolution.  With the decline of the “big box anchor tenant” developers have been looking for the new draw for shoppers to bring people to their retail centers.  Curated experiential environments that give reasons other than just shopping has been at the center of the trend.

This trend is what I call designing “social spaces” and the common thread in all social spaces is food and beverage.  This is where SFJones Architects sets themselves apart from other architectural and interior design firms. 

With a keen understanding of how food & beverage work, from the flow and operational needs to mechanical and permitting requirements, this understanding is essential to the creation of the social space.  Often developers need to design their projects in absent of an operator until they are already permitted and under construction and the challenge becomes how to make sure that the spaces they have allocated and infrastructure they need to accommodate will work for a potential operator without a major redesign or disruption while trying to keep on schedule.  The added value is that the designs that SFJones creates are innovative, efficient, and often becomes the selling point to potential operators that allows them to realize how the spaces are going to work for them.

 Examples of these projects are Foundry and Lux, Pavilions, LAFC with shipping container beer garden and maybe some screen shots of the renderings of Boardwalk and 800 N. Brand.


Foundry and Lux

 HCP Inc. retained SFJones to develop and program a 26,000 sf amenities facility for a million square foot biotech office campus in South San Francisco.  The goal was to create a destination for the employees in an area that was lacking adequate food and services. We partnered with Bon Appetite to develop the food program and intermixed the social actives such as gym, yoga studio, bar/lounge area and even included a bowling alley.


Veranda Pavilions

This project located in Concord, California was to provide a small amenities area of a larger tradition retail complex to create a destination for social events including; a music concert series, water fountains, a grass area that transforms into a skating rink during the Christmas seasons and children’s play area.  SFJones was challenges to create six “tiny restaurants” for local mom and pop food outlets and an outdoor seating area that became the nexus for the whole center.


The Fields LA Beer Garden

 With the completion of the new soccer stadium in the Banc Of California in Los Angeles SFJones was hired to create a beer garden using a shipping container and part of a larger food hall called “the fields LA”.  The challenge here was to design and fabricate the unit in Oakland and have the unit shipped to LA in time for the grand opening.  We created an outdoor seating deck with shading structures and designed the container to house 35 kegs and cocktails for high demand needs during events at the stadium.

Are you a real estate developer looking to include rich amenities and “social spaces” in your next commercial real estate project? SFJones has been a leader in developing new concepts venues from the bowling lounge craze to office amenities facilities for office campus environments, we strive to blur the line between fun and work. Let SFJones Architects help your vision come to life.

Click here to download our Social Spaces Deck

Sandra Sadauskaite