by WBDG Staff



The Office space type refers to a variety of spaces including: meeting spaces integrated into the office environment, reception, office support spaces such as work rooms, storage rooms, file rooms, mail rooms, copier areas, service units/coffee bar, and coat storage integrated into the office environment, and telephone and communications equipment rooms located in tenant suites containing tenant equipment.

Spaces and features that may be classified as a separate space type or covered as a special feature include:

  • Millwork other than service unit/coffee bar and coat storage
  • Meeting spaces and conference rooms that include special lighting systems, acoustical treatment, moveable partitions, millwork, or A/V systems
  • Secure storage, strong rooms, vaults, and hardened partitions located within the office suite
  • Large filing, library, or storage areas with concentrated floor loads
  • Enclosed spaces requiring acoustical separation higher than 40 STC, partitions to structure with acoustical insulation, and ductwork sound baffling
  • Specialized window treatments (blackout shades, plantation shutters, motorized fabric draperies, etc.), interior windows, glass block partitions, and glazed doors
  • Humidity, pathogenic, or hypoallergenic air treatment systems
  • Upgrade or changes to standard items such as plaster or vaulted ceilings, specialty lighting, or upgraded ceiling tiles
  • Private toilets, elevators, or staircases

Office space plans can be arranged in several scenarios, including: 100% closed office (fully closed), 80%-20% (open), 20%-80% (closed), and 100% open office (fully open). See also WBDG Office Building.

Space Attributes

Over 50 percent of workers in the U.S. spend the workday in office buildings and spaces, and employers today are increasingly bearing the responsibility of providing a quality workspace. Thus the Office space type is typically a flexible environment that integrates technology, comfort and safety, and energy efficiency to provide a productive, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing working environment. Typical features of office space types include the list of applicable design objectives elements as outlined below. For a complete list and definitions of the design objectives within the context of whole building design, click on the titles below.

Functional / Operational

  • Integrated Technology: Begin the design process with a thorough understanding of the technological requirements of the space, including anticipated future needs.
  • Occupancy: Office space types fall into the B2 occupancy classification, with sprinklered construction. The GSA acoustical class is C1 for enclosed offices and Class C2 for open offices.


  • Flexibility: The office space type is durable and adaptable, and will typically include features such as a raised floor system for the distribution of critical services (power, voice, data, and HVAC) and mobile workstations to accommodate changes in employee, equipment, and storage needs over time.

Secure / Safe

  • Comfort and Safety: The health, safety, and comfort of employees is of paramount concern to employers. For this reason, the office space type should be designed with increased fresh air ventilation, the specification of non-toxic and low-polluting materials and indoor air quality monitoring. Non-quantifiable benefits such as access to windows and view, and opportunities for interaction should also be taken into account.


  • Energy Efficiency: As energy costs increase with higher reliance on technology, strategies such as the specification of high-efficiency lighting and lighting controls; the application of daylighting; the use of occupancy sensors; and the installation of high-efficiency HVAC equipment should be considered. For more information, see Optimize Energy Use.

Example Programs

Two sample building programs and plans are provided, for 'fully closed' and 'fully open' offices. They include minor file and library reference areas, conference space, break space with service unit/coffee bar, and reception area.

"Fully" Closed Office

Tenant Occupiable Areas
Qty. SF Each Space Req'd. Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Office Spaces       12,170    
    Enclosed Executive Offices 2 225 450      
    Enclosed Large Offices 52 150 7,800      
    Enclosed Small Offices 26 120 3,120      
    Open Large Office 0 140 0      
    Open Small Office 0 100 0      
    Open Workstations 9 80 720      
    Reception Desk 1 80 80      
Support Spaces       3,134    
    Reception Seating 1 200 200      
    "Unimproved" Conference
1 600 600      
    Conference Small 3 150 450      
    Informal Breakout Centers 0 80 0      
    Printer/Copier/Fax Center 3 60 180      
    Break Room Service Unit 1 340 340      
    Information Reference Centers 2 150 300      
    Supply Room 4 40 160      
    Work Room 1 200 200      
    File Area 2 144 288      
    Documents Room 1 240 240      
    Server Room 1 176 176      
    Tenant Suite     15,304 15,304 1.35 20,592

"Fully" Open Office

Tenant Occupiable Areas
Qty. SF Each Space Req'd. Sum Actual SF Tenant Usable Factor Tenant USF
Office Spaces       10,600    
    Enclosed Executive Offices 0 180 0      
    Enclosed Large Offices 0 150 0      
    Enclosed Small Offices 0 120 0      
    Open Large Office 4 180 720      
    Open Small Office 15 120 1,800      
    Open Workstations 100 80 8,000      
    Reception Desk 1 80 80      
Support Spaces 30%     4,614    
    Reception Seating 1 120 120      
    "Unimproved" Conference
1 600 600      
    Conference Small 5 150 750      
    Informal Breakout Centers 12 80 960      
    Printer/Copier/Fax Center 3 80 240      
    Break Room Service Unit 1 340 340      
    Information Reference Centers 3 180 540      
    Supply Center 4 40 160      
    Work Center 1 200 200      
    File Area 2 144 288      
    Documents Room 1 240 240      
    Server Room 1 176 176      
    Tenant Suite     15,214 15,214 1.35 20,572

Example Plans

The following are representative of typical tenant plans for enclosed and open offices.

Office space type, enclosed plan
Office space type, open plan

Example Construction Criteria

For GSA, the unit costs for office space types are based on the construction quality and design features in the following table . This information is based on GSA's benchmark interpretation and could be different for other owners.

Relevant Codes and Standards

The following agencies and organizations have developed codes and standards affecting the design of offices. Note that the codes and standards are minimum requirements. Architects, engineers, and consultants should consider exceeding the applicable requirements whenever possible:

Additional Resources


Building Types

Educational Facilities, Federal Courthouse, Health Care, Land Port of Entry, Library, Office Building, Research Facilities, Warehouse

Design Objectives

Accessible—Beyond Accessibility to Universal Design, Functional / Operational—Account for Functional Needs, Productive—Design for the Changing Workplace, Productive—Provide Comfortable Environments, Secure / Safe—Security for Building Occupants and Assets, Sustainable—Optimize Energy Use

Building Commissioning

Building Commissioning


  • Architectural Graphic Standards, 12th Edition by American Institute of Architects, Dennis J. Hall. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016.
  • How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. New York: Viking, 1994.
  • The New Office by Francis Duffy. London, England: Conran Octopus Limited, 1997.