New York City is a hub for architecture and design firms.
With unique and diverse architecture, creative culture, iconic landmarks, and a thriving arts scene, New York City attracts top talent worldwide and offers endless inspiration. Plus, with a population of high-net-worth individuals in high-end real estate, and large corporations, developers are creating demand to cater to it.
No matter where you look, there’s a large concentration of design studios, architectural firms, fashion houses, and art galleries.
Yet despite the limitless opportunities for countless creative businesses in New York City, these commercial tenants often need help finding suitable New York City office space because of their unique requirements.
The nature of architecture and design businesses requires more space than other commercial tenants.
Such design-focused companies require plenty of flexible and open space. They use large plans and plotters, demanding storage and ample room for their blueprints. An open layout that facilitates collaboration and creativity, as well as natural light and views, is also paramount.
Of course, New York City has plenty of neighborhoods with converted industrial space and loft properties best suiting these tenants. But which ones are the best?
It All Revolves Around Budget
Smaller firms just starting won’t have a huge budget that could set them up on the upper floors of a Class A Midtown Manhattan skyscraper. Moreover, compared to tech firms that may require 50-150 sq ft per employee, an architect may need 450 sq feet . That means high real estate costs per employee in a tough, competitive industry, where the margins are not always the highest.
Because every dollar and cent counts, many smaller architecture and design firms prefer to go to cheaper areas with available loft space in neighborhoods like Penn Station/Garment District and the Flatiron District. For budget class A buildings, the Financial District (FiDi) is also a great option.
So, taking all of this into consideration, we will talk briefly about the best budget oriented neighborhoods and upscale neighborhoods for architecture and design firms.
The area surrounding the transit hub of Penn Station and the Garment District is one of the most unique, convenient, and affordable locations for architects and interior designers.
First, the location is hard to beat. Beyond the accessibility of Penn Station, the neighborhood has high foot traffic from nearby tourist destinations like the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden.
Additionally, compared to other commercial areas in Manhattan, the Garment District and Penn Station area offer more affordable rents.
Many of the buildings in the area were initially built for manufacturing and have large, open floor plans ideal for creative workspaces. These spaces are also easily reconfigurable to meet the specific needs of architectural and interior design firms. In addition, many of these buildings have high ceilings, spacious and airy environments, and large windows that let in plenty of natural light.
A simple search on Google Maps depicts how popular this area is for architects and designers. In a 3-block radius alone from Penn Station, there are roughly 15 architecture firms.
Walking a little further from Penn Station, you will find many well-known architecture and design firms.
First is Steven Holl Architects on 450 W 31st St. Then, there’s the famed international firm HDR on 500 7th Ave. Finally, there’s Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, on 214 W. 29th St, a firm best known as the designer behind the Apple Store on 5th Ave and the Twitter headquarters.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in Penn Station/Garment District:
Soho is a higher-end, prestigious neighborhood with former warehouses and industrial spaces that appeal to architects and designers. They gravitate to the large windows and touches like exposed brick and high ceilings.
Additionally, Soho has easy access to an abundance of boutique shopping and dining offerings. Its cobblestone streets, lined with shops, diners, restaurants, and galleries, inspire creative minds. So why wouldn’t innovative architecture and design firms flock to Soho office space? Simply, it’s the price.
The concentration of architects in Soho isn’t quite what it is in other New York City neighborhoods. However, plenty of prestigious firms willing to pay top dollar for space in Soho call this neighborhood home. For example, one of the world’s most influential design firms, OMA, calls 180 Varick St. home. Others like Barry Holden, Bone/Levine, Sarah Jefferys, and HKS Architects also lease space in Soho.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in Soho:
The Flatiron District is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Commercial tenants love being here because of the boutique restaurants, cafes, diners, and lush green spaces like Union Square Park and Madison Square Park. The neighborhood is also more relaxed than others in New York City and attracts many architecture and design tenants.
Many charming converted industrial lofts on side streets are available for lease in Flatiron. For architecture and design firms looking for skylights, concrete floors, oversized windows, and 11′ ceilings, the range of options fits perfectly without breaking the bank.
That may be why several award-winning firms lease their space in Flatiron. ZGF Architects on 39 W 19th St. is one of the better-known architects based in Flatiron. In addition, the global architectural collective SOMA calls Flatiron home with space on 31 W 27th St. and designs eye-catching developments like 45 Park Place in New York City. Others, such as Fontan Architecture, Architecture Plus Information (A+I), Alexander Gorlin Architects, Glenn Gissler Design, Ammor Architecture LLP, and more, sit steps away from Madison Square Park.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in Flatiron
Tribeca is another cultural and artistic hotspot in New York City. Bars, shops, restaurants, and art galleries line its streets. It also hosts many of the city’s most prominent cultural events, like the annual Tribeca Film Festival.
Many of Tribeca’s industrial lofts and former factories now serve as live/work spaces for local artists. Additionally, it has many open, airy loft spaces that are perfect for architects and designers.
One thing about Tribeca, however, is it’s one of the priciest neighborhoods in New York City. Architecture is a competitive industry, and smaller firms cannot afford to overpay for their space.
However, several award-winning firms willing to pay top dollar call the area home. RAAD on 5 White St. is best known for its stylish yet comfortable residential projects and hotel designs. SHoP Architects, famous for designing the Barclay’s Center, also calls Tribeca home at 233 Broadway. Marvel, on 145 Hudson St., offers award-winning services in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and urban design. Lastly, Sage and Coombe Architects, on 12 Vestry St., is a firm that’s delivered dozens of successful projects throughout New York City, including the Rockaway Beach Open Up, Ocean Breeze Track and Field House, and Noguchi Museum.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in Tribeca:
You might be confused as to why a neighborhood called “The Financial District” is a good option for architecture and design firms. However, it makes all the more sense when you realize that this has been one of Manhattan’s most thriving neighborhoods for decades and has favorable attributes for architecture and design firms.
First, its proximity to financial institutions and corporations means a large pool of potential clients.
Second, there’s easy access to significant amounts of highly skilled talent. FiDi is home to several universities and design schools, such as NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Pace University, and the New York Academy of Art.
Finally, despite well-serviced public transportation, restaurants, cafes, and shops, leasing Class A space in the Financial District is more affordable than in other Manhattan neighborhoods.
Well-renowned international architect Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM), best-known for iconic skyscraper designs like One World Trade Center and the Burj Khalifa, calls its New York City offices home at 7 World Trade Center. Ennead Architects leases space at One World Trade Center, and Handel Architects LLP, the designer behind the 9-11 memorial, leases space at 120 Broadway. CetraRuddy Architecture at One Battery Park Plaza is another award-winning firm in the neighborhood.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in FiDi:
Midtown Manhattan might be known as home to iconic landmarks like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. However, its Midtown East neighborhood is a hotspot for many other creative architecture and design firms with a higher budget for Class A rentals.
Midtown East provides easy access to public transportation via Grand Central Terminal, a big plus for any business. You also get the perks of a Midtown location with a more relaxed atmosphere than stuffier neighborhoods like the Plaza District. Midtown East is also a thriving residential neighborhood with plenty of shopping, dining, and leisure spots.
Although the area lacks loft buildings, it has plenty of traditional office space in commercial buildings constructed in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, with some modern buildings from the 80s and 90s. Many of these buildings are Class A and B, with lobbies manned 24/7 and various amenities.
Gensler on 1700 Broadway is the best-known architecture firm in the area and one of the world’s largest. It has an incredibly diverse portfolio, with projects “as large as a city and as small as a task light for an individual desk.” Some of its most famous include the Shanghai Tower and Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters.
CannonDesign is another award-winning international architecture and design firm with a Midtown East office on 360 Madison Ave. Its portfolio includes educational facilities, sports arenas, healthcare centers, commercial office buildings, and headquarters.
Examples of buildings offering office space for lease in Midtown East:
The Key Takeaway
New York City is one of the world’s top hubs for creative industries like architecture and design. Yet, finding suitable office space can be challenging despite the large concentration of these firms in the city. Architecture and design firms have particular needs for square footage and flexible, open, and well-lit office spaces. Moreover, budget is always a concern.
Smaller firms looking for affordable and available loft space tend to gravitate to neighborhoods like Penn Station/Garment District and the Flatiron District. The Financial District (FiDi) is an excellent option for budget class A buildings.
Do you own an architecture or design business?
Are you looking to lease space that caters to your needs?
Working with a commercial broker can help you find space that fits your unique needs in one of these 5 New York City neighborhoods or beyond.