February 14, 2014 (Washington, D.C.) – Walk into the new offices of the American Forest & Paper Association (“AF&PA”), the American Forest Foundation (“AFF”), and American Forests – and you immediately see the stories that these organizations are telling.

AF&PA, AFF and American Forests were all recently represented by West, Lane & Schlager Realty Advisors (“WLS”) in their respective moves to new locations within Washington, D.C. Each organization took a different approach when designing their new office space, using branding elements to more effectively promote and reflect their missions.

“It was really unique to have an opportunity to work with three related organizations, all at the same time, each using a different architect to convey a message and each having different economic considerations,” said Ganon Rich, senior vice president of West, Lane & Schlager, a D.C.-based tenant representation firm that negotiated the new deals on behalf of AF&PA, AFF and American Forests – groups that are, in one way or another, connected to the U.S. forest industry.

As the national trade association of the paper and wood products manufacturing industry, AF&PA advances public policies that promote a strong and sustainable U.S. forest-products sector in the global marketplace. In a deal negotiated by West, Lane & Schlager principal Eric West, LEED AP, and Cresa Washington DC managing principal Mindy Saffer, LEED AP, AF&PA is now in 29,142 square feet at 1101 K St. NW.

Meanwhile, AFF, which works on-the-ground with families, teachers and decision makers to promote stewardship and protect the values provided by our nation’s forest heritage, has leased 10,984 square feet at 2000 M St. NW. West and Rich represented AFF in this transaction.

The third association, American Forests, is the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country and advocates for the protection and expansion of America’s forests. American Forests has taken roughly 6,000 square feet at 1220 L St. NW in an agreement negotiated by Rich and Saffer.

All three organizations, in consultation with WLS and their architects, employed a more open design to increase efficiency and promote more collaboration amongst their staffs.

At AF&PA, the membership’s scope has evolved over the past two decades; today, the 62-employee group represents those involved in packaging, paper, pulp and wood.

A primary objective of the AF&PA’s new location is to “capture a fuller spectrum of the products made by our members,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Donna Harman. “By displaying these products around the office, we have humanized them.”

In the front lobby, for one, one will witness the ends of paper rolls enclosed in glass. There are pencil sketches, made on paper; tree limbs that act as a room divider; and wood flooring.

Harman notes that floor-to-ceiling light and glass walls lining peoples’ office have resulted in a much more inviting environment. “Seeing other people doing their work fosters a different kind of energy,” Harman said. “Staff members feel more connected to one another. It’s a modern office, but with a traditional feel.”

When people explore AF&PA’s new office, “we want to make it unmistakable to them where they are, and what our organization represents,” said Chuck Fuqua, the association’s executive director of strategic communications. “We also have the flexibility to evolve the messaging in our space over time, to let the space grow with us.”

Take a stroll in the 33-person AFF office, and you will find an abundance of donated wood and wood products, sourced solely from the United States and much of which came from landowners participating in its internationally recognized sustainable forestry program.

Themes from the four seasons are scattered throughout the space. A tree’s rings are imbedded in the shape of the office itself, including the carpet and ceiling. The ceiling tiles are made of aspen wood, rather than fiber glass.

What makes all of these branding touches even sweeter is that aggressive negotiations by WLS mean that AFF is “not paying as much at our new space as we previously paid – for the next 10 years,” according to Tom Martin, AFF’s president and CEO, who describes his group’s new digs as “more like a cabin in the woods than your typical K Street office. We want people to pretty quickly understand who we are, and what we do. That’s extremely important to our membership and our staff.”

Every room features a different name: “bloom,” for instance, is where AFF employees sit on a comfy couch as they work from their laptops. In the kitchen, staff members can eat their lunch or have coffee on a 150-year-old, oak-tree table, donated by an AFF member from Wisconsin.

Not surprisingly, AFF earned the maximum recognition level for office sustainability from the Green Globes program.

When employees come into work, the 22 staff members at American Forests experience an office with a contemporary and modern, but not overtly trendy, environment.

The first thing you see is a large glass wall with a custom installation of a forest scene. You can also see through the trees into the staff lounge. There is a wood floor in the entry, which visually connects to wood slates on the ceiling that continue throughout the space.

Other items here and there help this organization tell its story: there is, for example, the pen that President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to establish the Civilian Conservation Corps. And a beautiful guitar made from the remains of the last surviving Revolutionary War Liberty Tree.

On the wall outside each office are mounted shovels used at various ceremonial tree plantings. Photos of American Forests’ project sites appear throughout the office.

“It’s really nice but not over the top,” said the group’s CEO, Scott Steen, noting that an American Forests’ board member owns a major office furniture distributor, enabling the association to get top-notch furniture at a significant discount. “We may be the oldest national conservation organization, but we are also a contemporary organization with a mission that is extremely relevant today. We wanted our space to reflect that.”

For American Forests’ 10-year lease, WLS negotiated a deal where its client won’t see an increase in their real estate costs had they renewed at their previous location – yet the new space is bigger.

American Forests is on the seventh floor, with three walls of windows overlooking their new neighborhood. “It has a ton of natural light coming in, and we have views of a nearby park where we, coincidentally, helped plant trees,” Steen said. “The office has a really nice feel. It just felt right.”

About West, Lane & Schlager Realty Advisors, LLC:

Washington, D.C.-based West, Lane & Schlager Realty Advisors, LLC is a leading commercial real estate brokerage firm that exclusively represents tenants in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. Clients of West, Lane & Schlager include professional services companies such as law firms, as well as nonprofit organizations and trade associations. Services provided by West, Lane & Schlager are tenant representation, investments, construction management, strategic planning, and operating-expense reviews. For more information on West, Lane & Schlager, please visit www.wlsrealty.com.


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