What does New York’s all-electric tower tell us about the next office?

This WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing looks at plans for JPMorgan Chase’s new global headquarters in New York, designed by Foster + Partners, and at current US labour market shifts

What does the unveiling of plans for a spectacular global headquarters for American investment bank JPMorgan Chase in New York City tell us about the next generation of office development?

The 60-storey skyscraper at 270 Park Avenue, Manhattan, designed by architects Foster + Partners and standing 423 metres high, is set to be the city’s largest all-electric tower. It will feature net-zero operational emission and indoor air quality that exceeds standards for sustainability, health and wellness – and it will be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy sourced from a New York State hydroelectric plant.

So, the future of the office is set to be green. Nigel Dancey, head of studio for Foster + Partners, notes that sustainability lies at the heart of the project, with the interior providing plenty of daylight and fresh air, and ample biophilic elements and materials to improve wellbeing.

The future will also be smart. The project will create 2.5 million square feet of flexible, collaborative space, utilising smart technologies and replacing an outdated if iconic modern facility designed in the late 1950s for Union Carbide to house around 3,500 employees. The project has recycled, reused or upcycled 97 per cent of the building materials from the demolition – exceeding what typical green building standards require.

‘The project has recycled, reused or upcycled 97 per cent of the materials from the demolition…’

The new JPMorgan Chase headquarters for up to 14,000 employees will offer 2.5 times more outdoor space on the ground level, featuring wider pavements and a large public plaza with natural green space and other amenities geared towards the residents, workers and visitors who frequent the neighbourhood. A closer connection to the surrounding district creates a timeless addition to Park Avenue, and is designed to ‘touch the ground lightly across the entire block’ according to the architects.

To operate efficiently, the building will use intelligent building technology that features sensors, AI and machine learning systems to predict, respond and adapt to energy needs. Advanced water storage and reuse systems will help reduce water usage by more than 40 per cent, according to the architects, while triple-pane glazing on the façade and automatic solar shades connected to HVAC systems will enhance energy efficiency. In addition, outdoor terraces will feature natural green space and plantings.

In regard to facilities, the building is set to provide ample communal space and more choices in where and how to work, including a state-of-the-art health and wellness centre. The design also includes a large food hall with diverse food operators and healthy menus, as well as a conference centre at the top of the tower.

‘This project raises the stakes on making offices sustainable, smart and people-centric…’

Due for completion in 2025, this is a project that raises the stakes in how sustainable, smart and people-centric large global organisations intend to make their offices in the future. JP Morgan Chase has been one the staunchest advocates of getting people back into the workplace, but will its showcase tower be enough to engineer a total return to the office?

For more design coverage like this, go to our regular Design Roundup in the Innovation Zone, which provides premium content for WORKTECH Academy’s Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.

US job opening hit a high

As Manhattan’s prime office real estate is remodelled, the context around the current US labour market makes for interesting reading. In March 2022, a record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs and the number of job openings hit a high of 11.5 million, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The ‘Great Resignation’ clearly shows no signs of abating. In March 2022, there were 1.9 jobs available for each unemployed person, exceeding the pre-pandemic ratio of 1.2 in February 2020. The FT quoted Daniel Zhao, an economist at jobs site Glassdoor, as saying: ‘Despite job openings seemingly plateauing for the last few months, the new record high indicates demand for workers is clearly still red hot.’

Will the race for talent have a knock-on effect on the development of spectacular and amenity-rich new offices like Foster’s JPMorgan Chase project? This scenario is very likely.

Get set for Berlin

Interested in the issues discussed in this WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing? Then check out our WORKTECH events calendar for 2022 to engage in the big conversation on the future of work and workplace. Next up: WORKTECH Berlin on 25 May 2022.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 4 May 2022.
Find exclusive content in the


Premium content for Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.
The latest analysis and commentary on the future of work and workplace in five distinct themes: Research & Insights, Case Studies, Expert Interviews, Trend Publications, and Technology Guides.