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Co-Work Spaces Are Coming to a Mall Near You

Image of Natalie Patton
Natalie Patton

Macerich, the luxury shopping mall owner, and Industrious, a high-end co-workspace operator, made news on Wednesday with the announcement that they’re teaming up to create the first-ever co-work space inside a mall.

This introduces interesting challenges and opportunities for property owners to consider with their controls contractors and system integrators. But first, some more background on the news.


The mall is Scottsdale Fashion Square, located in the downtown center of Scottsdale, Arizona. Industrious is picking up a space left vacant by Barney’s in 2016. They’ll be near a Shake Shack, a pub and a day spa in addition to the traditional stores you’re used to seeing in malls, the ones that sell clothes.

“We think a mall provides the type of setting that enables you to move around to different types of spaces, [with] great food and beverage, etc,” said Jamie Hodari, Industrious CEO in an interview with CNBC on the day of the announcement.

He went on to hint at potential future co-work spaces at Macerich mall properties in Santa Monica and Walnut Creek.

This got us wondering – how will this new type of tenant change the way that controls and integrations are done in malls? What will these new tenants require that base building systems will have to supply?

On the Facilities Side

At OTI, we have experience with controls installations and integrations for a major player in the data driven co-working industry and we have longstanding relationships with some of the largest mall property owners in the world. That is to say, we see both sides of this equation.

Co-working space operators are redefining comfort for the modern workplace, but often they are tenants themselves. Property owners are always looking for new tenants, but they have a multitude of tenants to keep happy.

In that CNBC interview, Industrious CEO Hodari mentioned one huge trend that co-work spaces and healthy workplace initiatives underscore at every turn – the need for natural light. This is not something that comes standard in a shopping mall, even an outdoor one. Next time you're in a Nordstrom, count the windows.

So first we can expect demolitions and retrofits galore. With that comes the opportunity for controls contractors and integrators.

Key Differentiation

These co-working spaces compete to offer the most comfortable, collaborative and creative work spaces for their clients. Air quality and high standards for HVAC equipment feed directly into these efforts. Thus the building management system must provide real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, occupancy control, and people counters in order to offer intuitive, adaptive control of the space. This means lighting, access control, HVAC, video, everything needs to be integrated into one central BMS whose operator is aware of the goals of this and better yet all tenants.

Further, these co-working tenants are likely coming into the space with their own advanced conference room booking systems. They also likely have sensors to gather usage analytics for their own purposes. Integrating these elements into the BMS allows enables even more predictive control.

If an HVAC schedule is created from data in the room booking app, you can pre-heat or pre-cool. If your system is really advanced, it can even prepare the room based on the specifications of individual people.

High-End, High Value

The value of this for the mall as a whole is scale. Once the technology runs in the co-work tenant space it can be deployed in less predictable environments around the mall. This will introduce new standards of comfort to those tenants while furthering energy and operational efficiencies for everyone.

Just as Macerich and Industrious are luxury in their industries, this kind of building control is extremely high-end. But it can be done. The more fine-tuned these tenants get, the more they’re going to expect building systems to learn and adapt. This is surely just the beginning not just for a redefinition of office space and shopping malls but a redefinition of the entire built environment.

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