Architectural Lease Review #4: Building Evaluations and Feasibility Studies By: Michael Kahn, AIA, CEO | KAHN Architecture

Hello, and welcome to our fourth installment of a six-part series covering the architectural role during tenant lease negotiations. This month we will explore the elements involved with site location visits which include building evaluations and the space planning / costs of construction (feasibility studies) when a tenant is looking at multiple locations for a leased space.

As discussed in last month’s article, after selecting the real estate broker and defining how much space may be needed, one of the first milestones is to coordinate and tour a variety of leasable spaces, possibly in different buildings and in several locations. This will help a tenant begin to understand the amenities being offered by the landlord in each building which could include, but not limited to: how the lobby looks (has it been renovated recently or does it need an update); concierge services and security of a building; which bank of elevators serves which floors (more pertinent in high rise properties) and how well they operate; consideration of important functions that a tenant may need such as how deliveries will be made (is there a loading dock?); and having an understanding of other similar tenants in the same building. All of these elements can be prepared and packaged by your broker, which can also include graphics of specialty services as well as similar companies within a radius of that particular building.

Usually a day or several days are scheduled with key decision makers of a firm and a list of possible spaces are selected based on location, general leasing costs, and type of building (class A, B or even C) desired. This is also the time that a tenant should call their architect to join them. As the tour commences, your architect can offer insight on aesthetics, code compliance, and ADA accessibility to just name a few items, as well as discuss the lobby and general impressions of the building. When you are in the specific space to be leased, then the fun begins. Your architect can help with clarifying how column spacing could impact the desired use of the floor, how high ceilings are for ductwork distribution, where mechanical rooms are currently located (and if relocation is needed), check if the electrical service to floor is adequate enough for tenants use, and how the building provides heating.

The walkthrough with the architect will also help in providing the necessary space plans prior to making a decision on a space to understand occupancy, egress and how natural lighting will affect the desired goals of a final design. Here's one thing that is sometimes forgotten, and that is, in each building, noting the different sizes of windows. Some buildings have a curtain wall systems of glazing - window glass from floor to ceiling - and in others, they could be of smaller widths of 4' or 5' with large sections of solid masonry in between which could limit the practical location of perimeter offices(as in the case of many pre-war buildings). In addition, if the tenant has an open plan intent, then ceiling heights and infrastructure can impact that layout.

After each site visit, your architect can prepare a brief narrative and a space plan of each site with a list of key factors that may affect and likely help a tenant in making a decision.

Kahn Architecture provides building evaluations and feasibility studies for the majority of our clients. Once again the goal is to help the tenant with the tools in order to make a great decision on a future lease space with no stone left unturned.

Michael Kahn is the co‐owner of Kahn Architecture, a women's owned corporate interior architecture firm located in Midtown Manhattan specializing in office build‐outs. Michael is NCARB‐certified, a member of the AIA and licensed in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington DC.

For more information please contact Michael at

Michael Kahn, AIA


Kahn Architecture

2 West 45th Street, Suite 502

New York, NY 10036



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