Building an office for a law firm is not your typical construction project. These projects present a unique set of challenges, and having a deep understanding of the needs of law firms is crucial when constructing an office. So when Akin Gump and Baker Hostetler, two of the nation’s leading law firms, were each looking for a new office space at 1735 Market Street in Philadelphia, they turned to Structure Tone. Not only does Structure Tone have a strong track record of working with law firms, but the company has also worked on over 20 different floors at that address alone.
FORM MEETS FUNCTION
For starters, confidentiality is paramount in the legal profession. To help safeguard privacy, the Akin Gump and Baker Hostetler offices both feature custom ceilings in their conference rooms that have higher acoustical properties. For Baker Hostetler’s new office, the team also installed sound masking and double-layered walls, going so far as to bring in an acoustician to inspect the work and make sure everything was sealed properly. Additionally, law firms expect their offices to reflect their brand. From client meetings to recruiting, the quality and sophistication of the space has a direct impact on their reputation.
That is why law firms invest so much into their offices, as these client-facing areas are so much more than just a place to have meetings. In fact, over the years, law firms have become more and more savvy about their real estate decisions to ensure the final product meets their functional and aesthetic needs.
“Law firms are getting more knowledgeable about construction management,” says Vincent Sarnatora, Structure Tone Philadelphia senior project manager. “Now they often have a point person for their projects, rather than rely on consensus of all of the partners. It definitely makes decision-making faster and more efficient.”
KNOWING THE ROPES
With these projects in particular, Structure Tone’s experience at 1735 Market went a long way. As Sarnatora notes, having this much experience in one building gives the project team a built-in understanding of its nuances and quirks. From knowing where hidden structural beams are located, to the way columns are built on each floor, to the type of VAV fan power boxes they use, the team doesn’t run into surprises. Having this experience also allows the Structure Tone team to put out contracts with subcontractors to address specific issues or avoid particular speed bumps right from the start.
“You know all the engineers, the building manager, you have security badges and background checks all set, you know the freight operators,” Sarnatora says. “You know every detail of how everything works so it’s much easier—you skip that whole learning curve.”
Both firms started moving staff into the offices at the end of 2021, and Structure Tone has been helping with the final transition details. Ultimately, the years of experience in law and in 1735 Market made the difference in solving challenges and keeping the projects on track.
“This was one of the most positive buildouts we have encountered over the years,” says Lee Jensen, Baker Hostetler Director of Administration. “Our space turned out better than anticipated and a lot of that had to do with Vincent, his team, and their ability to produce a quality project.”
Client: Akin Gump
Engineer: GHT Limited
Owner’s Rep: Gardiner & Theobald
Client: Baker Hostetler
Engineer: Bruce E. Brooks & Associates
Owner’s Rep: Watchdog