I was poking around for a definition of Class A buildings and had a hard time finding a solid definition.
In BOMA’s Building Class Definitions, buildings are grouped into Class A, Class B and Class C. But BOMA does not recommend the publishing of a classification rating for individual properties.
Metropolitan Base Definitions
Class A. Most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the area. Buildings have high quality standard finishes, state of the art systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence.
Class B. Buildings competing for a wide range of users with rents in the average range for the area. Building finishes are fair to good for the area. Building finishes are fair to good for the area and systems are adequate, but the building does not compete with Class A at the same price.
Class C. Buildings competing for tenants requiring functional space at rents below the average for the area.
BOMA goes further with International definitions:
International Base Definitions
Investment. Investment quality properties are those that are unique in their location in the best metropolitan markets in the world, their design and construction quality, the solidity of the tenants and the tenant markets that they serve and the outstanding building management that is responsible for operating and maintaining them. These properties stand out as leaders not only within their own metropolitan areas but also within the international investment community. Investment properties usually contain state of the art mechanical, electrical, life safety, elevator and communications systems. Their finishes are of the highest standards and they often provide the occupants with a mix of amenities – in variety and quality – that is exceptional. Often they house a lead tenant for whom the property is named and usually they are located in a premier metropolitan area. Investment grade properties need not be considered to be “trophy” material but trophy properties are usually investment grade.
Institutional. Institutional grade properties are those of sufficient size and stature that they merit attention by large national or international investors, hence the name. These properties are of good design and construction, although they are rarely monumental in design or the use of construction materials. They are typically large. They may be located in secondary metropolitan areas, but invariably they will have a very stable tenant base.
Speculative. Speculative properties usually will conform to popular design conventions (at the time that they are constructed), but without the use of exceptional materials or construction methods. The design and construction of these properties emphasizes functionality, in contrast with aesthetics or image and the design rarely reflects the image of any particular tenant or occupant. To attract national or international attention, speculative properties must be relatively large, although minimum size requirements are lower for properties located in premier office markets. They are often occupied by multiple tenants.
Of course, Wikipedia has an entry: Wikipedia’s Class A Office Space
Although the US seems to be lacking objective classification of buildings, the Moscow office market has laid out some objective standards for classifying buildings: Office Building Classification. According to the Moscow Office of Jones Lang LaSalle:
The new classification aims to divide the office stock into three classes according to a number of objective criteria. The classification was developed with the participation of professionals from the Construction, Property Management and Office Service industries. The principal difference of the new classification from the previous one is the division of stock into ?, ?+ and ?- classes. The major difference is also in giving a more structured criteria for modern office building classification. Leading real estate consultants: CB Richard Ellis Noble Gibbons, Colliers International, Cushman and Wakefield, Stiles and Riabokobylko and Jones Lang LaSalle have prepared a new classification of office buildings, dividing modern quality office stock into 3 classes: A, B+ and B-.