Project Management: Gusto’s Office Project Lives up to its Name

gusto exterior
Gusto sits on the 16th Street Mall.

It seems like yesterday that we got the call on the Gusto project. Would we be interested in assembling a design and construction team to build out 37,000 square feet in record time? Gusto plans to build a large team in Denver over the next several years.

fitzmartin mug

Don Fitzmartin
President and CEO, Fitzmartin Consulting Co.

Gusto certainly lived up to its name during the design and construction process when it decided to make Denver its second home. Gusto’s dynamic facilities team, led by Charles Sim, was committed to flying in from San Francisco and being present at every critical design and construction meeting to streamline decisions. We quickly selected IA Interior Architects for architectural services due to the firm’s commitment to meeting our schedule, expediting a competitive proposal and its ability to create a beautiful design in a reduced amount of time. The architect’s 3-D modeling sketch-up software provided a realistic flyover of the proposed space that allowed both local and remote decision-makers to quickly hone in on final design decisions and make selections to expedite completing the design documents.

The brokerage team of Steve Billigmeier with Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado and Jenny Haeg from Custom Space in San Francisco found the perfect site, centrally located with amazing adjacent amenities on the corner of Lawrence and 16th streets. Over the last 20 years, we have seen the location that Gusto selected change hands from ESPN Zone to the University of the Rockies, and now Gusto. This history of multiple building uses from retail to educational and then office posed many challenges with design related items for code compliance and design integration.

We proactively met with the city and county of Denver, as well as the Denver Fire Department to review existing smoke control requirements, exiting and overall permit expediting. Their senior team of advisers provided the critical feedback we needed in a timely fashion so we could quickly start our project and meet our schedule requirements.

Gusto originally had planned to break the project into three phases, but when we got a little creative with our design, we could eliminate the third phase and save 20 percent on our construction pricing. We actually had two different general contractors and two different furniture vendors work on the project to meet the schedule.

Gusto's reception area

Gusto’s reception area

Working in an occupied building – in which retail users sit below your space, the Westin Hotel beside you and 16th Street Mall in front of you – makes construction logistics very challenging. Careful scheduling and collaboration with adjacent tenants and building management were critical. This spirit of collaboration with the building management team was crucial for this expedited project. Their veteran property management team made those challenging tenant landlord coordination items a breeze.

The office environment we designed at Gusto is raising the bar for office space utilization. “Sit-to-stand” desks, custom-made restaurant booths for collaborative meetings and state-of-the-art training facilities make this the perfect recipe for a successful office environment. But wait, there is more! High-top tables, multiple enhanced furniture settings throughout the space and a stocked kitchen with patio (the perfect spot for watching year-round events like the Parade of Lights) makes this a great spot to be working any day or night. If you need a break from work, no problem! Hit the lounge and you can play pingpong or just hang out on a couch.

When you have the perfect location, you need to let everyone know you’re there and Gusto did this in a big way. First, it put up beautiful exterior signage that has an elaborate control system to change colors for special events and holidays. Coordinating signage installation along the 16th Street Mall with pedestrians and busses whizzing by can be challenging. Permitting, street and sidewalk closures coupled with tenant and neighboring business notifications must be planned early and executed seamlessly for success.

The second best way to let everyone know you are open for business is to throw a party and invite all the employees, partners, elected officials and team members. You measure success on a project by how happy the clients are when it’s complete. Attending the open house and seeing all the Gusto employees sporting their Gusto gear and not wearing shoes (it’s part of their culture) gave the entire project team a great sense of accomplishment. Then, hearing the CEO speak with an overview of the history of Gusto and the vision for the future was the pinnacle of the project’s success.

“We feel fortunate to have been a part of this amazing team” said Kindell Williams, managing director for IA Interior Architects in Denver. “To top it off, we had a dream client that was decisive and an overall delight to work with!”

From a real estate transaction perspective, this was a home run: perfect location, high employee density per square foot and a cost-effective build-out. This secure environment promotes the creativity and productivity that will surely keep Gusto on its continued path of success and growth. \\

Featured in the June 2016 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue