A South Florida contractor developed a small site and created a signature corporate headquarters structure in Delray Beach, with limited time and funds, and it now serves as a catalyst for the city’s Congress Avenue Initiative.
“One of the reasons we built the headquarters is to accommodate the growth of Kaufman Lynn,” says Mike Kaufman, CEO of Kaufman Lynn Construction. “The company has been on a strong growth trajectory for the last six or seven years. We grew out of the old space, which we were leasing. The new building provides a better working environment for Kaufman associates.”
Additionally, he said, the company prefers owning its real estate to better control its future. Kaufman Lynn was founded 29 years ago and has experienced South Florida’s explosive growth. The company also has opened offices during the past three years in Austin, Texas; Estero, Florida; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Congress Avenue Initiative
Delray Beach began the Congress Avenue Initiative in 2015, bringing public and private stakeholders together in a task force that would reimagine the 4-mile long industrial corridor’s future as a great street.
Kaufman, previously located in Boca Raton, Florida, began looking for a new location in 2016 and found this property facing Interstate 95, which had been a Florida Department of Transportation testing facility. The parcel was large enough for the headquarters and a six-story, 130,000-square-foot self-storage building, which Kaufman Lynn built and sold, to offset financing the headquarters.
“We executed a campus development,” Kaufman says. “The storage building and office building look similar in architectural elements, and they work together well.”
However, the property was not zoned for an office building and storage facility. Kaufman Lynn worked closely with city officials to develop a site plan and vision that would support the city’s objectives for the area. The project includes bicycle-friendly pathways around the site, shade structures and water for cyclers. As the developer, Kaufman Lynn maximized square footage on the site, increasing significantly the amount allowed under the previous zoning, Kaufman says. The city approved the site-development plan.
“We achieved that through thoughtful design and with the cooperation of Delray Beach,” Kaufman adds. “The challenge on this project was not the construction, but getting these buildings approved.”
Construction of Headquarters
Kaufman Lynn managed construction of the $4.8 million, three-story, 23,271-square-foot office building and an adjacent six-story self-storage facility, completing the work in 10 months. The company chose subcontractors based on merit and whether they could meet an accelerated construction schedule.
The first floor contains parking, record and equipment storage, and a mechanical space. By placing parking in the footprint of the building, Kaufman Lynn was able to increase the square footage of the building and provide covered parking for the people who work there.
On the second floor is 21,000 square feet of office space, and the third level has a 6,500-square-foot multipurpose room for training and for use by area nonprofit organizations.
Kaufman Lynn employed a fast-track approach to construction. The company pulled separate permits for demolition and site preparation, foundations, structural and shell and the interior. This allowed work to begin before the final design was complete.
The site was tight, with the highway and railroad tracks on the east side and high-voltage transmission lines on the west elevation. The two crane’s movements required careful coordination. Kaufman Lynn held extra safety meetings to address the dangers of lifts so close to the power lines.
“In South Florida, we are land constrained,” Kaufman says. “Those of us in the business had to learn the skills to be urban builders. Every project is curb to curb, with little room for storage or deliveries.”
A hybrid structural system supports the office building. It is a combination of a reinforced, poured-in-place concrete podium and structural steel on the second and third floors. Atop the second floor’s reinforced concrete floor, a beam, girder and joist system was installed to support the third floor and roof.
The aluminum veil curtain wall system on the west side features a custom leaf pattern.
“It’s cool and very efficient,” Kaufman says. “We did it to create an openness of the exterior curtain wall system, which brings light into the building. It not only creates the aesthetic we wanted on Congress Avenue, functionally it aids in shading the hot western sun. On the interior, the pattern creates this amazing effect. It’s like sitting under a tree. It’s calming.”
The building features an energy-efficient HVAC system, LED lighting throughout the structure and upgraded exterior insulation. Kaufman Lynn’s new headquarters received Green Globe certification.
“Our cost of operating has been reduced significantly,” Kaufman said. “We are spending one-quarter of the energy cost in this building than at our former campus in Boca Raton.”
Showcasing the Industry
Kaufman Lynn chose a design and materials that would highlight the construction industry.
“We wanted some of the work we do showcased in our building,” Kaufman says. “We deployed a substantial amount of exposed concrete. When you are a contractor in South Florida, concrete is king. To be successful, you need to be able to form, place and finish concrete.”
For instance, the public plaza facing Congress Avenue features sculptural concrete piers, supporting the cantilevered second floor. Building those piers required special formwork to achieve the desired look and shape. The formwork was fitted with liners to give the appearance of snap ties. About 500 man hours were dedicated to the finish work on the concrete. Then throughout construction, Kaufman Lynn had to protect the concrete piers.
Sections of the office space have exposed areas, so people can see various building elements, including concrete.
In the reception area, the company used a variety of interesting building materials, including Venetian plaster, salvage and repurposed Atlantic white cedar ceiling beams, which continue down the wall behind the reception desk, and a backlit fiberglass-reinforced wall treatment in a basket-weave pattern.
“The building has been a real morale enhancer for our associates,” Kaufman says. “This gives them a great office environment to work in and that they can be proud of.”
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