BART’s inviting new headquarters deepens community roots and inspires talent—while fueling savings
Partnering with JLL, the transit system achieved its vision for an inclusive and community-oriented workplace.
BART’s new headquarters delivers a flexible and engaging workplace environment to inspire today’s talent.
10-story, 244,000 square feet office building
Saving $200 million over 20 years
“We did a great deal of work and outreach to all of our employees to find out what they needed and thought was important in a new workspace.”
As the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area’s transportation system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), connects communities with 131 miles of track and 50 stations.
Faced with a looming rent increase for the Oakland office space the agency had leased as its headquarters for nearly 20 years, BART turned to JLL to help find, secure and construct a new location. By moving its headquarters, the agency aimed to modernize the employee experience, enhance sustainability and honor its deep roots in the community—all while saving taxpayer dollars.
The challenge: Purchase, plan and build out a future-ready, employee-friendly location
After a careful selection process, BART set its sites on a building in the heart of downtown Oakland with close proximity to the 19th Street BART station, which offers employees an easy commute to work.
While BART was finalizing the purchase of the building with support from JLL’s brokerage and headquarters teams, the agency began working with JLL’s change management practice to reenergize its workplace strategy. “We wanted to create flexible spaces for all types of people and all types of work while encouraging collaboration,” said Emilia Sanchez, a Capital Programs Senior Project Manager for BART.
To engage today’s workforce, the space would need to be reimagined to create flexible, collaborative spaces for all types of people and all types of work. As a public entity, BART had to meet strict time and budget constraints, and invest judiciously in the tech-forward, sustainable and inclusive design.
To help BART maximize its budget throughout the process, JLL’s project and construction management team suggested a progressive design-build delivery system that included a Target Value Design (TVD) trade buyout process. This gave BART a tight watch over costs and schedule impacts of their decisions, while enabling them to better visualize the potential of their new space and identify areas to increase functionality and efficiency.
Shaping a productive, healthy and collaborative workplace experience
Vital to BART’s new HQ design was an approach that seamlessly balanced physical needs—like access to natural light and upgraded technology—with improved amenities that would promote employee wellbeing, such as a private rooftop patio for relaxation and team building.
In coordination with BART, JLL’s workplace experts identified a range of ways to foster collaboration and elevate the employee experience. To encourage cross-department interaction, for instance, the new space includes numerous group huddle spaces on every floor. Meanwhile, 90 sound-masking speakers mounted in the ceilings create white noise so people can converse comfortably without their voices traveling across the open spaces.
BART also sought to improve connectivity with technology. Employees can walk up to a “Genius Bar” for on-demand tech support, and one-button connectivity to audio and video in conference rooms makes it easy to connect with remote colleagues.
Bringing to life organizational values around people and planet
The new building also reflects BART’s inclusive culture. “We did a great deal of work and outreach to all of our employees to find out what they needed and thought was important in a new workspace,” said Abigail Thorne-Lyman, Director of Real Estate and Property Development for BART.
Inclusive design elements include the addition of a wheelchair ramp to the front of the building. Additionally, a Mother’s Room provides working moms with access to privacy, sinks, drying racks, refrigeration and sterilization equipment.
BART leadership also placed a large emphasis on integrating the Oakland community and locally owned businesses, particularly African American owned businesses. They established and exceeded a 30% small business participation goal, with more than 10% of the small business contracts awarded to Black-owned businesses.
The new space reflects the culture of the surrounding community, thanks to an initiative that commissioned local artists to showcase their work throughout the building. For example, the stained-glass mural now gracing the walls outside the first-floor boardroom shows abstract images of people’s faces from all different ages, genders and cultures.
JLL also assisted BART in its ambitious sustainability goals by implementing features necessary for LEED Gold certification, including high-efficiency HVAC, LED lighting, water bottle filling stations and a bicycle storage room.
A people-first headquarters, for a people-first transit system
Fulfilling its unofficial role as the “People System,” BART’s new headquarters is centered around the human experience. From thoughtful amenities to the community art adorning its walls, the building is dedicated to supporting the agency’s employees as well as its neighbors and passengers. It is also on track to achieve LEED Gold certification, thanks to intentionally sustainable design elements and close proximity to public transit. Ultimately, BART was able to honor its commitment to being fiscally responsible with public funds—while achieving all its ambitions for a modern new headquarters.