PLASTARC Celebrates Tenth Annual WORKTECH NY with Unique Retrospective

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Experts to discuss a decade of change in New York City

PLASTARC Founder and Exectuive Director Melissa Marsh presents at a recent event.

PLASTARC Founder and Exectuive Director Melissa Marsh presents at a recent event.

Cities compete for companies; companies compete for talent; talent changes cities.

PLASTARC, a social science-based workplace consultancy, will convene a panel at WORKTECH NY, an annual workplace and technology conference. During the May 9 panel, “Then and Now: A Decade of NYC,” experts in technology, wellness, talent, tactical urbanism, and workplace will discuss what has changed in the ten years since WORKTECH was first held here in New York.

New York is not the same city it was when WORKTECH first arrived. While some events like 9/11 and the 2008 recession left an immediate and indelible mark, New York has also been shaped by slower-moving trends that only emerge in hindsight. Circa 2009, few might have predicted that NYC’s finance-dominated economy would evolve to be hospitable to the likes of Google and Amazon—yet, it has. Cities compete for companies; companies compete for talent; talent changes cities. Understanding how this complex dynamic has played out over the last decade can help us imagine what the next ten years might hold, and provide inspiration for building cities that are more livable, productive, and sustainable.

Each member of this WORKTECH panel represents a facet of the evolving experience of New York as a place to live and work, offering a unique perspective on the last decade. Founder and Executive Director of PLASTARC, Melissa Marsh, will anchor the conversation, focusing on the elements that shape the workplace experience and the design of work environments, notably using a people-centric approach. Many workplaces can be seen as a microcosm of the cities and communities that support them.

Representing NYC’s burgeoning tech sector is Charlie Miller, Senior Director, Connected Communities at Intersection, a technology company focused on public spaces. Their LinkNYC program converts the city’s old payphone infrastructure into free public WiFi hotspots and information kiosks. Public projects like these impact the urban experience, changing what is possible in public spaces while generating data that is useful for future efforts. Intersection is also located in the new Hudson Yards development, which is remaking the city’s west side.

As Partnerships Director at the Center for Active Design (CfAD), Suzanne Nienaber is well-situated to address the role of cities in wellness. NYC’s Active Design Guidelines were adopted nearly ten years ago, providing architects and urban designers with a strategy manual for creating healthier buildings, streets, and urban spaces, based on the latest academic research and best practices in the field. CfAD continues to advance this work globally to connect scholarly research to design and development practice, leading to such innovations as the Fitwel healthy building certification.

At real estate firm Savills, KLG Advisors help organizations navigate the relationship between talent and location, including forecasting long-term trends and the impact of state, local and national incentives. Managing Director Kevin Kelly will discuss how changes in New York have influenced the mix of people who choose to live there, which parts of the city are experiencing growth in their future talent pool, and the implications for businesses. These effects reach every part of the economy to some extent, but are particularly acute for retail and public infrastructure, such as transit.

The overall urban experience—and its transformation—will be discussed by Ed Janoff, Senior Director of Project Development, The Street Plans Collaborative. The organization’s pilot programs play off the conversion of Times Square into a pedestrian plaza—a project of which Ed was an integral part. Employing “Tactical Urbanism” techniques, Street Plans uses an incremental, iterative approach to prototyping urban public realm improvements. This strategy is also cropping elsewhere, led by cities, organizations or citizens themselves.

WORKTECH is the forum for all those involved in the future of work and the workplace including real estate, technology and innovation. Over 350 senior professionals from real estate, facilities, HR, technology, executive management architecture, design, and professional advisors hear from global thought leaders and share best practices and expertise. This is WORKTECH’s tenth annual event in New York.

PLASTARC is a frequent contributor to WORKTECH events, having first presented on the “New New York Workplace” in 2012. PLASTARC has gone on to speak at several WORKTECH events globally, including Toronto, 2016, about the need for dedicated building technology professionals; Toronto, 2017, on Globalization, Talent, and Innovation; Paris, 2018, about supporting wellness through Multisensory Design; New York, 2018, about the changing needs of startups as they grow; and Barcelona, 2018, on improving office design using insights from education environments. Earlier this year, PLASTARC presented at the inaugural WORKTECH India in Bengaluru, discussing the future of data-led workspace design and the building technology that makes it possible.

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Roger Marsh
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