The Advisory Board Co. announced last week that it is exploring a relocation of its District headquarters, saying it prefers to stay in the greater Washington region but “all options are on the table” for the possible move.
The company currently employs about 1,660 locally and occupies some 300,000 square feet spread across buildings at 2445 M St. NW and 1227 25th St. NW in the West End neighborhood.
In a statement, Advisory Board chief executive Robert Musslewhite said that a key reason for the possible move would be to support the company’s hiring strategy. He says he wants the office space to be “a visible and tangible way to attract top talent and extend our culture.”
The relocation assessment is being spearheaded by Bill Nussbaum, Advisory Board’s director of headquarters project who previously oversaw NPR’s move to the NoMa neighborhood from its previous outpost near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“We’re just at the starting gate, and we’re just at the visioning and programming stage,” Nussbaum said.
At this early stage, Nussbaum said Advisory Board is considering a wide range of options, including moving the headquarters out of the area entirely.
“We would like to stay in the Washington region, and we’re just evaluating where our future growth will be located,” Nussbaum said.
Advisory Board, a research, technology and consulting firm that serves hospitals and universities, already has locations in San Francisco, Chicago, Austin and several other cities.
The company is currently the primary tenant in 2445 M St. NW and occupies one floor of 1227 25th St. NW.
When asked if Advisory Board expected to put all D.C.-area workers in one building, Nussbaum said, “We don’t know what the solution’s going to be at this point, we’re exploring all options.”
The leases for the company’s current spaces expire between 2017 and 2019, so it is aiming to have a plan in place before that time. Nussbaum said he hopes to have the “visioning process” completed by the end of 2014.
Advisory Board has retained commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle and architecture and design firm NBBJ to define the requirements for a new space and to identify prospective locations.
NBBJ has long maintained East Coast offices in New York and Boston, but this project marks its first foray into the Washington region. NBBJ is the firm behind innovative projects such as the massive 3.3-million-square-foot development in Seattle that is to include Amazon.com’s headquarters.
In a statement, NBBJ said it aimed to help Advisory Board adapt to expectations of a new generation of workers.
“The rapid evolution of digital technology and the introduction of millennials into the labor force are changing where and how work happens,” said NBBJ Principal Suzanne Carlson. “We will work with the Advisory Board Company to identify a corporate space that embraces these new realities, embodies its unique cultural identity and gives employees a place of purpose, pleasure and productivity.”
Could that mean going to a smaller footprint, a design centered around telecommuting and flexible workspaces?
“It’s certainly something we’re thinking about,” Nussbaum said, though he again stressed it’s too early to know whether that would make sense.
(Disclosure: Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.com, owns The Washington Post and Capital Business.)