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Torre Universal Sustainability

San José, Costa Rica

Torre Universal, a modern, class A+ corporate office and retail center in San José, strives to be a benchmark of sustainable development, multimodal mobility, and vertical urbanism. The building uses sophisticated materials and high-performance design, including a unitized glazing curtain wall system for construction efficiency and temperature control, occupancy sensors, and reuse of water from rainwater tanks and groundwater for irrigation. Through such climate action strategies, Gensler’s sustainable design consultants helped the client achieve LEED Gold certification, resulting in a 21% energy cost savings, 82% reduction in construction waste, and 50% water cost savings indoors and 100% outdoors.

Developed by Portafolio, the 893,400-square-foot commercial office building anchors a transit-oriented mixed-use development and is composed of two levels of sub-grade plus eight structured parking topped with a lobby, retail podium, and 14 levels of office space. Thanks to its flexibility and sought-after amenities, Torre Universal was 50% leased before it had topped out.

The design proposes four distinct volumes through a “windows to the park” concept, which creates a direct relationship between the workspaces and the city’s natural landscapes, expressed through clean lines, clear details, and floor plans that can be tailored to each tenant’s needs. The design team took an “inside out” approach to innovate thinking about the future of mobility, including a parking deck that can be converted into rentable space. The building’s core is located towards the west edge of the site, resulting in open, customizable floor plans that open onto the three facades, allowing abundant natural light and climatic comfort in the interior. An elevated terrace with outdoor recreation spaces promotes occupants’ well-being.

An iconic landmark in the city landscape, Torre Universal exemplifies a resilient, flexible approach for office building design in the post-COVID-19 era and a study in how smart design can create enhance real estate value.