What Is an Office Complex?

Jan Fletcher

An office complex generally refers to a grouping of architectural features that facilitate the production of clerical activities, data processing, or the delivery of business services. There are no definite parameters, in general, for describing this type of complex strictly from an architectural perspective. Some say an office complex is a grouping of one-story buildings connected by architectural features such as covered walkways, atriums or other similar structures. Others say it can consist of just one building that houses the offices of different businesses, governmental agencies, or organizations.

An office complex is a concentration of several offices in a single building or campus setting.
An office complex is a concentration of several offices in a single building or campus setting.

Office complexes may be one story or multistory. Most local zoning codes specify where these complexes may be located. Other terms describing a similar architectural use and arrangement include office plaza, corporate campus, or office park. While a company may own its complex, leasing is very common, as it allows a company to expand quickly by adding additional office space either within the complex, or at another campus.

Office complexes often include multistory buildings.
Office complexes often include multistory buildings.

In terms of Energy Star recognition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses architectural features to determine if an office complex is considered one building or more than one building. A group of offices connected in a seamless manner, with an atrium or concourse that does not divide buildings from one another, is considered one building for the purposes of an Energy Star rating application. The term "office complex" is used by the EPA for both separate buildings on one campus, and one building in which multiple companies or activities are housed.

In the common vernacular, an office complex is simply a place where people collectively perform office work in a location that exceeds the scope of one small office. There is much debate and research that has been done on creating the most effective office environment for both workers and visitors, from an architectural perspective. Virtually all agree that the physical surroundings of an office have a significant impact on productivity and job satisfaction, with major issues involving noise abatement and privacy concerns. Since medical providers may be located in office buildings, health privacy laws affect architectural decisions. The will likely restrict the use of cubicles with openings that can allow others to hear private conversations.

Some companies adopt architecturally open office configurations for collaborative purposes. High-tech firms that pursue rapid innovation may seek the relationship-building of encouraging a relaxed office environment in which coworkers engage in frequent, spontaneous discussions. At the other end of the spectrum is a fully private office arrangement separated by floor-to-ceiling walls. A cell office is a hybrid of the two, allowing some privacy while retaining an open reception area where spontaneous collaboration may occur.

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