Space as a Service: VARISPACE Las Colinas
“Finding a better way” isn’t just the motto at VARIDESK—it’s the principle that launched the company. When one of the cofounders wasn’t happy with the complicated assembly of his sit/stand desk, he and his partner took on the challenge to “find a better way” by building their own desk. And so VARIDESK was born.
Fast forward only a few years, and VARIDESK has not only become one of the leading manufacturers of height-adjustable desks, but has also expanded to offer the full gamut of flexible workplace solutions, from electric desks and conference tables to modular walls and LED lighting. Now the company is taking that idea a step further by offering space itself as a service in an updated and renovated former corporate headquarters.
OPERATIVE WORD: FLEXIBILITY
VARISPACE Las Colinas is a 424,000sf, 3-story Class A office building in Irving, Texas that served for decades as the headquarters for Zales Jewelers. VARIDESK purchased the building last January in a bold move to create 305,000sf of rentable, flexible workplace using their own products.
“This is a great opportunity to prove out the concept of space-as-a-service—that an offer of flexible space and high-end amenities would be very attractive to potential clients,” says Jeff Lamb, president and chief operation officer of VARIDESK. “We’re taking what we’ve learned from our fans about healthy organizations and amazing workspaces and putting that all together with our walls, lights and furniture to offer a turnkey solution.”
While the coworking and flexible space idea had already begun taking hold in the corporate real estate market, VARIDESK’s model is slightly different. Rather than lease small, very short-term space, VARISPACE offers larger footprints—20,000sf and above—with even more flexibility to allow a company to grow and change within the office.
“Coworking spaces often offer short-term leases but still have hard walls separating tenants,” says Lamb. “If an organization is changing, they want to be able to flex their workplace. You can’t flex sheetrock walls. So our wall systems truly are flexible where we can easily take them down and reinstall them in a different configuration, all without tools.”
FROM ONE TO MANY
Re-configuring what was once a massive single-tenant building into such a flexible, multi-tenant space came with some challenges. The first was the timeline—the aim was to have tenants moving in six months after construction began—and finding partners who could make that work.
VARIDESK chose Corgan and Structure Tone Southwest based on Lamb’s previous local work with both companies, plus their larger geographic reach that could scale with VARIDESK if the concept really took off.
“Finding a better way is in our DNA, so we were looking for partners who could think outside the box,” he says. “We very purposely selected a team that had those capabilities.”
The next challenge was breaking down the dated, mall-like interior of the building to create a dynamic, shared lobby and amenity space. The building is essentially three pods, connected by a series of escalators and long concrete ramps. The team took out 90% of the ramps to completely open up the lobby space and replaced escalators with elevators and a dramatic monumental stair. In addition to largely gutting the interior office walls, the work has included adding new restrooms, building a larger cafe and moving and expanding the fitness center, as well as updating the 1980s-era building systems, roof, boilers and parking garage. Outside, the team has removed the concrete off the exterior and activated unused land to create a 1-acre park and plaza space.
“We really had to think through each change to make sure we are maximizing the common areas,” says Lamb. “We couldn’t build anything custom that won’t work for the flexible, multitenant environment we’re creating.”
Despite the challenging undertaking, the team is on track for its first tenant to move in this September. “Working together as a team really made this project come together just as we all envisioned it,” says Joseph Cribbin, STSW president. “We’re so proud to be part of it.” And according to Lamb, VARIDESK’s concept of ultimate flexibility and space as a service is working.
“We’ve had a few proposals for longer-term leases but we’ve asked them, ‘Do you really want a 10-year lease or a three-year lease with more options and total flexibility,’” he says. “Most far prefer the flexibility. We can tweak the space as their company changes, they can try out our new products—it’s flexibility on the most macro level.”
Owner’s Rep: Transwestern
Broker: Cushman & Wakefield
Structural Engineer: AG&E Structural Engenuity
MEP Engineer: AG& Purdy-McGuire, Inc.
Completion: September 2019