Why Core & Shell Should be on your Real Estate Project Checklist

Real Estate Project Checklist

A 2015 shot of FMC Tower with the building’s core and shell were visible.


‘Core and shell’ is undoubtedly a technical term for you will come across during a real estate project. Here is a little bit on what ‘core and shell’ really means and why it should definitely be on your real estate project checklist of questions to ask your project manager, architect or landlord.


Core and shell is a design method commonly used in commercial office buildings today. The method originated in the United States and has become the preferred method of design and construction for commercial office buildings today, especially buildings with multiple tenants and multiple fit-outs.


The method refers to a process where the interior core structure of the building and the exterior building envelope are fully designed as the first phase of the project. The core (inside) of the building is covered by the shell (outside) as the first part of construction. Once the core and shell structures are built, the internal architectural elements and tenant fit-out can be integrated throughout building occupancy.


The alternative to the core and shell method is to fit-out tenant space with ceilings, flooring, lighting, HVAC, etc. before a tenant occupies the space. However, often times these  items are altered to accommodate a tenant’s ideas and requirements for the space. The result is a great deal of wasted time spent altering a space that just had new fittings installed.


There are several benefits to the core and shell method. Firstly, it speeds up the design and build process. Defining the core and shell elements of the building first allows for progress to be made in the design of other portions of the building while the long-lead items of the core and shell can be implemented. Once those elements have been planned, work can proceed without having to wait on the interior details.


This method typically provides a better finish for the end user since the end user is able to work from a blank canvas and create a space that suits their specific needs, rather than altering an existing fit-out. There is also more time to develop the internal fit out allowing for a more careful and specific fit-out design.  Be sure that this is a topic on your real estate project checklist to discuss with the professionals you have on your team.


Related- Storefront vs Curtain Wall

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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