The rise of the vertical campus

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June 21, 2016

By: Kate Riehle, Marketing Associate, JLL

San Francisco’s skyline is in an active period of redefinition with several developments and redevelopments under construction, bringing to market a new generation of office space. There’s no arguing that millennials entering the workforce have had a significant impact on the way companies operate and use space. Having grown up with on-demand technology, this generation brings with it a new pool of talent and a new preference for working. In the past, many large headquarter tenants have leased sprawling suburban campuses with generous space to house their operations (Google’s Googleplex in Mountain View, the Apple Campus in Cupertino, and Genentech in South San Francisco to name a few). These campuses offer a number of on-site amenities including outdoor space, cafeterias, gyms, conference centers, and laundry facilities. Suburban areas with more space have traditionally been the most logical solution to house these types of campuses.


However, according to NAIOP, millennials entering the workforce bring with them a desire to work in an environment that offers a vibrant location, flexibility, short commute time, access to amenities, collaboration, and sustainability. In order to attract and retain the best talent, many companies have started looking for space that satisfies these desires, focusing on urban areas.


Many companies have been leasing space in what is now being referred to as a “vertical campus,” which means a high-rise building (or several buildings located near each other) where companies can lease large blocks of space and build out amenities for their employees, similar to a traditional suburban campus. Examples of vertical campuses in San Francisco include Salesforce (2.3 million square feet at Salesforce Tower, 350 Mission, 50 Fremont, among others), LinkedIn (450,000 square feet at 222 2nd Street), Google (800,000 square feet at One Market Plaza, 188 The Embarcadero, and Hills Plaza), and Uber (500,000 square feet at 685 Market and 555 Market).


With this continuing trend, new downtown developments such as Park Tower at Transbay, Salesforce Tower, and 181 Fremont, which are all adjacent to the future Transbay Terminal and City Park, are coming to market offering amenities such as bike lockers, showers, sustainable building systems, and easy access to public transit. Notably, Park Tower at Transbay will feature 14 sky decks that allow tenants immediate access to the outdoors from their office space.

Office buildings are being designed with a new way of working in mind as San Francisco’s skyline continues to evolve. Vertical campuses are becoming a more common trend, and millennials entering the workforce continue to have a significant impact on the office environment in the city. This trend is likely to continue shaping San Francisco’s skyline in the coming years.

To learn more about San Francisco’s evolving skyline, click to download JLL’s Skyline Report

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