The Times Building: Mixed Feelings on Satisfaction

May 21, 2013
Post-occupancy study reveals room for improvement at New York Times headquarters.

The New York Times Building is a comfortable place to work and makes great use of innovative technologies, but still has considerable room for improvement, according to occupant survey results included in a five-year post-occupancy study of the building.

The 52-story high-rise, which has housed the Times Company on floors 2-21 since its opening in summer 2007, features open-office planning and a design integrating the building envelope, lighting, and space conditioning.

Over three-quarters of the respondents – 76.7% – said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the new building overall, with 61.1% agreeing that the new building enhances their ability to get their work done. Satisfaction with lighting, thermal comfort, and the building in general didn’t vary significantly between different floors or which face of the building was closest to each respondent’s workspace.

The study authors attribute this high approval rating to the careful installation and commissioning of building systems. For example, the facilities management department was able to fine-tune control strategies and thermostat setpoints for the underfloor air distribution to maintain a relatively stable thermal environment across the entire floor plate.

The 11.7% of employees who were dissatisfied with the new building offered valuable lessons as well. Results indicated that most complaints were prompted by the automatic window shading system and space temperature, not with the building as a whole. In fact, of the 125 people who were dissatisfied with the window shades, 21% were also dissatisfied with the building overall, with the south and west facades accounting for a higher percentage of displeased occupants.

Many employees complaining of discomfort said the building was cold, prompting survey analysts to recommend changing temperature setpoints (but with an eye toward preventing the development of new humidity problems or other issues), according to expanded survey results available at lbl.gov. Reviewing and re-commissioning the shading system is another possibility, the study authors noted, since another new building constructed just north of the Times building may necessitate recalibration of the shade controls to resolve complaints.

About 35% of the 1,911 Times employees participated, a higher return rate than achieved on prior surveys administered by the Times’ human resources department. The study was intended to evaluate comfort aspects of the building’s indoor environmental quality and assist the company’s facilities management team with operating the building. NYSERDA and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory assisted with the study and with specifying and testing the building systems.

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