Features

Pete Coman – PTS Americas

Total tech helps Hudson Yards office ‘get smart’

According to Pete Coman, PTS Americas has designed “the smartest digital workplace in New York.”

As the company’s chief technology officer, he helped open the space, which is occupied by the New York office of a Norwegian bank. The 26,000-square-foot office is located at 30 Hudson Yards, a 103-story tower on the west side of Manhattan that’s part of one of the city’s largest and most expensive mixed-use developments.

Working on the bank’s office was an exciting challenge for Coman, a native Australian who’s spent his career working on tech systems, networks and infrastructure. He helped integrate features such sensors that preserve social distancing and alert the HVAC system when CO2 levels drop so more fresh air can be brought in.

“This is the highest level of integrated systems in a project I’ve ever worked on,” Coman says. “The key point is the client was onboard and wanted to do it.”

Designed to integrate

PTS Americas is part of PTS Consulting Group Ltd., founded in London in 1983 as a subsidiary of Shoralplan Ltd., an interior construction company. In the beginning, it specialized in consulting on telephony services, mainly for overseas banks setting up headquarters in London.

In 1990, CEO Kevin Perrett led a buyout to create an independent company, with operations becoming global in 2000. PTS clients have included Google, Coca-Cola, Bloomberg and Nasdaq.

“There’s a lot of technology that goes into a workplace—it could be an office, a school, a warehouse,” Coman says. “We design digital experiences for the workplace. We don’t supply equipment or install; we design the experience.”

Coman came to the U.S. from Australia in 2020 after PTS Americas had already begun designing the 30 Hudson Yards bank office. However, he arrived after there’d been a hiccup in the plan—another tenant wanted the floor as part of six floors it was leasing. So, the bank moved upstairs and the clean slate gave Coman and PTS more freedom to design the workspace.

Added pandemic protection

While doing so, PTS also designed integrated systems for ensuring safety as employees returned to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, it installed sensors that track how many people are in a room. If the amount of people is unsafe for social distancing, a sign lights up and the information gets posted on an app for employees.

The integration and automation encompass functions such as meeting invitations, too. An invitation can create a request to use a conference space, send a QR code to admit visitors into the building and office, create a digital visitors badge and alert someone to greet them.

“What made it all possible is a software layer on all the technologies to talk to the systems like sensors, room booking, visitor registrations–and its compatible to all systems and brands,” Coman says.

The automation also provides data and information stored by the bank at its Norwegian headquarters. The bank then uses that information for trends for making decisions using the workspace—even to understand why a conference room isn’t used at certain times of the day.

He also leads tours of the office to show potential clients what the company offers.

“We take a unique approach for the U.S. market and it gives us an advantage,” Coman says. “One person designs from start to finish with no handoff or loss of knowledge.”

Talking tech

Though Coman has been tinkering with things since he was a boy—buying electronic kits and building devices was an early hobby—he says his all-encompassing approach to design stems from growing up Down Under.

“Australia being smaller, you have to be multidimensional and multidisciplined and design many systems,” he says.

Accordingly, he’s been a sales consultant, integration specialist, vice president of membership for Toastmasters International in Australia and a co-host, content creator and commentator for The Tech Effect.

“Honestly, I get bored with things,” he says. “I’ll do something for a while and feel like I’ve hit a plateau. Over time, that learning curve begins to plateau—what becomes the next challenge?”

Coman was managing director of InDesign Technologies for more than 12 years before joining PTS in January 2020. He’s also been a subject matter expert for organizations such as AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association.

Coming to the U.S. has also given Coman more time and opportunities to go snowboarding—he’s passionate about it and playing other sports when he’s outside the office.

However, Coman spends much of his free time at webinars, trade shows and conventions, gleaning knowledge about trends and innovations that can imbue his newest design efforts.

“I need to be ahead of the curve. I need to know what is coming,” he says. “Quite often there are products that take two to five years to come to fruition. You need to be aware of those and find ways to bring them to the clients to improve the overall experience and keep it relevant to the consumer.”

View this feature in the Summer II 2022 Edition here.

Published on: August 11, 2022

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