Elite Private Clubs Seen as Way to Lure Workers Back to Office

This article is originally from Forbes, written by Jeffrey Steele on November 28, 2022.

The dark woods, sumptuous furnishings and rarified air of private social clubs have long remained the exclusive preserve of the moneyed few. The clubs serve as a retreat from the public, a place where the well-heeled can relax among their own, ensconced safely behind walls separating them from the of banal existence of the workaday world. All of which adds to the irony of one of real estate’s recent trends: Developers are incorporating private clubs into New York City Class A commercial spaces to entice workers back to the office world they fled to work remotely in March of 2020.

“Private clubs in the most elite trophy [office] buildings are designed to extend an unprecedented level of value to tenants,” says Peter Turchin, vice chairman at CBRE.

“From the finishes to the culinary offerings to the services, these clubs offer a caliber of refinement and hospitality that exceeds the amenities usually seen in offices. Spaces like the Lever Club at Lever House are on the cutting edge of this approach, boasting design, cuisine and entertainment that more closely resemble the Annabel’s club in London than a traditional office building.”

One Willoughby Square

”The future of workspace design is about creating a destination,” observes Tom Vecchione, principal at acclaimed architecture and interior design firm Vocon.

“With the ability [of employees] to work from home, your design must entice workers to want to come in. We can see the line between traditional workplaces and classic residential development blurring. The design for work needs to include wellness and that hospitality or a home-away-from-home feel.”

That is precisely the objective of the amenity center at the Brooklyn office center, which incorporates the high-quality, bespoke details of an exclusive members-only private club, and features a coffee lounge with outdoor balcony and adjacent library, custom plush banquette seating, swank covered outdoor space, custom sapphire-toned bar and sprawling tech-enabled and acoustically-rated conferencing settings.

Lever House

The landmarked Lever House skyscraper, experiencing a $100 million redevelopment, features the exclusive Lever Club. The full-floor club, delivering 15,000-square feet of terrace space overlooking Park Avenue, offers a members-only lounge, restaurant, hospitality suite and conference space. Designed by architecture firm Marmol Radziner, the club delivers a nearly uninterrupted indoor-outdoor work and entertainment setting.

“We designed Lever Club as the preeminent modern workplace amenity where leading companies and their top talent will enjoy high-end hospitality and culinary offerings befitting one of New York City’s iconic addresses,” says Callie Haines, executive vice president and head of New York for the office business of Brookfield Properties.

“Our vision is not only to create an inviting indoor-outdoor environment in which to work, collaborate and socialize, but also to provide comprehensive programming that will enliven the space and make Lever House an even more desirable place to work.”

From the exclusive access to highly-sought indoor-outdoor space to culinary services that leave traditional corporate food and beverage programs in their distant wake, Lever Club delivers a boutique work experience that’s unrivaled in Manhattan, says Alan Bernstein, senior vice president and head of leasing, WatermanClark. “Lever Club is more than a physical space,” he says. “It’s an entire hospitality offering.”

550 Madison

New York City’s youngest landmark, designed 40 years ago by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee, serves up full-floor exclusivity in its private amenity club reserved for office tenants and their employees. The Rockwell Group-designed space provides a welcoming billiards room and inviting dining tableau, as well as an expertly organized and presented library. Some regard it as the only truly fitting treatment for the legendary Chippendale structure once home to AT&T’s headquarters.