Is NASDAQ a big office user? People mostly know about them operating in Times Square and lower Manhattan.
They have a tremendous amount of square footage, both in Manhattan, downtown and Times Square, but primarily downtown. In 1 Liberty Plaza, I think they’re on three floors. And we’ve recycled and upgraded that space over the years. And Rockville is very large, and they’re in Chicago and in Pennsylvania. It’s an electronic exchange so it’s all data driven, not space driven.
You’ve done a significant amount of work designing data centers, including at 470 Vanderbilt Avenue, where last year the Human Resources Administration inked one of the biggest leases of the year. It’s no longer a telecom hotel, but what was it like designing that space?
We were the original architect for 470 Vanderbilt Avenue. It was an 800,000-square-foot redevelopment of a building that was in pretty bad shape. It was a collection of five buildings, and we basically created a data center and telecom hotel with all the infrastructure—from generators to everything else. We redid the whole building. We gutted it, repurposed it. There was a common lobby, and any tenant that went in there could tap into risers and fuel and et cetera. It had rack space and access to generator power. And we redid the whole building.
With an assignment like that, you probably always had to keep in mind that, as a data center, it wouldn’t be housing tons of employees.
Absolutely, but it still had to have the egress that it needed. So we had plenty of stairs there—we had more than enough. And even if an office user went in there it could accommodate that. So it was always designed with the intent—with that god-forbidden intent—that if it had to house office users it had that exit strategy. And, in fact, that building was also studied for residential at one point. So that building is a perfect example of something being repurposed, and the Carlyle Group had an exit strategy if that telecom piece died, and it’s worked out pretty well.
You’ve come from a long line of architects.
I’m a lucky guy, right? No, but it’s my father and my brother. My father has retired.
Do you all wear black-framed designer glasses?
I don’t wear the glasses. My father does, and my brother does—but not me.