Law Firm Brings Workplace Of The Future To Life

Shearman & Sterling’s recent New York office transformation reflects firm's commitment to people, clients, and the environment.

The first global law firm to participate in WELL Building Standard (WELL) at an enterprise scale, Shearman & Sterling recently completed the transformation of its New York City headquarters. The modernized space reflects the firm’s commitment to fostering a more connected, inclusive, and engaged global culture. Completed in just two years, the project provides an enhanced client experience that reinforces the firm’s environmental, social and governance goals, and reduces its overall carbon footprint.

New York City law firm headquarters
(Photo: Business Wire)

“The redesign of our New York office marks the continuation of what will be a global investment in our firm’s culture and values,” said Kenneth Johnsen, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer at Shearman & Sterling. “Our people and clients are at the heart of everything we do. We value their well-being above all else, and our newly renovated global headquarters embodies the firm’s human-centric model.”

Shearman & Sterling has committed its global offices to pursue the WELL rating (see sidebar below). The firm’s New York City headquarters, located at at 599 Lexington Avenue, is also on track for LEED Gold certification. The firm partnered with construction management firm L&K Partners, global architectural firm Perkins&Will, and MEP engineering consulting firm JFK&M, for the renovation.

Shearman & Sterling elected to redesign the space before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a goal to create a workplace that anticipated the evolving needs of its growing and diverse talent base, and would continue to support excellence in client service. The 340,000-square-foot space features high-performance technologies, state-of-the-art workspaces, wellness amenities and COVID-19 safety features. The human-centric model illustrates the sustainability aspects of its redesign.

“Our people and clients are at the heart of everything we do. We value their well-being above all else, and our newly renovated global headquarters embodies the firm’s human-centric model.”

— Kenneth Johnsen, Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Shearman & Sterling

Integral to the redesign were sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility features. The Midtown Manhattan space now includes lighting and shade systems powered by recycled Ethernet cables, occupancy sensors, double-insulated glass, and other eco-conscious features. Equally apportioned office spaces, improved boardroom acoustics, artwork created by emerging diverse artists, and wheelchair accessibility throughout the building, reaffirm the firm’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion.

Read more facility management news about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

Shearman & Sterling Commits To WELL

As part of its global efforts to enhance health and well-being throughout its entire office portfolio, Shearman & Sterling is the first global law firm to participate in WELL at scale, committing all of its 25 global offices to pursuing WELL Certification or WELL ratings.

Offered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), WELL advances health and well-being across buildings, organizations and communities. Shearman & Sterling’s workplace WELL strategies follow the 10 impact areas under the WELL framework: Air, Water, Thermal Comfort, Light, Movement, Nourishment, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community.

“As organizations around the world seek more meaningful ways to enhance and benchmark their ESG performances, participation in WELL at the entire enterprise level creates an effective pathway to scale health outcomes in a streamlined manner,” said Jessica Cooper, chief product officer at IWBI. “We are delighted Shearman & Sterling can now lead by example to implement evidence-based WELL strategies and scale well-being impact for all of its global employees and customers.”

Shearman & Sterling will pursue the full WELL Certification in at least seven locations over the next few years, while pursuing other WELL ratings throughout the office portfolio. These global WELL strategies include:

  • A lighting control system capable of boosting light during morning hours and tapering off later in the day to align with the natural circadian rhythm of the body
  • Displacement ventilation – a ventilation strategy where outdoor air is introduced at a low-level and contaminants and stale air is pushed upward out of the breathing zone as air is heated.
  • Drinking water filtration strategy to mitigate organic and inorganic contaminants, agricultural contaminants, and harmful water additives
  • Visual ergonomics (adjustable computer screen heights) and desk height flexibility and seat height flexibility
  • Acoustic comfort planning (designated loud and quiet zones and mitigating noisy equipment in the space) and sound masking
  • Incorporating biophilia, including the wood grain workstations, and plants displayed throughout office
  • Nutritional education message in the cafeteria to encourage employees to make healthy food choices. Menu cards highlight the nutritional information, including information on calories and added sugars.
  • A focus on well-being with dedicated lactation rooms to support new mothers, availability of nap rooms and on-site nurse practitioner
  • Artwork throughout the office space from global emerging artists

Arsha Cazazian-Clement, Director of Global Real Estate at Shearman & Sterling, said: “Our enterprise-wide adoption of WELL underscores the firm’s values and bolsters our strategy for growth moving forward. This initiative reflects our absolute commitment to supporting our people’s well-being as well as accelerating the transition to sustainable workplaces.”

Read more facility management news about the WELL Building Standard.