Brian Arial, Managing Principal: I've learned to think outside of our own experiences. Since cultures obviously differ, it's important to understand the origins and nuances of local lifestyles and patterns. The real challenge is to consider yesterday and today, but plan for tomorrow — and plan for change, especially in quickly developing countries.
Brown Craig Turner
Bryce Turner, President and CEO: I've been involved with a large number of projects overseas and have found that the architect is given a freer hand in design expression and flexibility in planning. Projects, especially ones in Asia, are not zoning driven as they are in the United States.
Jack Selman, Senior Partner: Architects Orange currently has two projects in South Korea. They are both very large factory outlet centers and it is interesting that not only do these retail projects attract the same tenant lineup as they do in California, Texas or Washington but that Korean clients want to use similar architectural styles as we have in the United States. As architects we were looking forward to designing a project that reflected the local context and perhaps the history of the area. While the desire to reflect American architecture abroad may not be a trend, it says a lot about the impact of American retail projects.
John Cole, Principal: We have learned from projects abroad some tricks for increasing density and increasing the variety of components in mixed-use projects. With land costs typically higher abroad, developers are driven to build projects with denser schemes, more complex layouts and a broader mix of uses. Also, developers and regulators abroad are looking for higher design quality as the projects are rarely sold off and their civic qualities are emphasized.
Perkowitz + Ruth Architects
Sy Perkowitz, President and CEO: With our first international project nearing completion and others on the boards, we have learned that these projects can afford you the opportunity to be even more creative and stretch the boundaries. Developers abroad are always looking for the highest level of creativity rather than consistency across all projects. It has been a great opportunity for us to diversify and immerse ourselves into other communities and their cultural and regional demands.
Bob Tindall, President: As a global leader in mixed-use, we have gained valuable insight from our three decades of experience working overseas. Our international clients are savvy, sophisticated business people. Frequently, they're not just developers — development is just one of the things they do. Most of our international projects are larger in scale, and in some cases we're working together to create new communities. As such, they view their projects holistically and approach them from a long-term perspective.
Wakefield Beasley & Associates
Michael T. Lentz, Principal: We have recently had the opportunity to become involved with several international projects in Dubai, China and the Caribbean, which bring about new challenges. Logistical issues including time differences, variation in workdays and religious holidays play a large role in our production ability. Communication gaps also exist. We have found that by employing a diversified staff — we currently have 22 countries represented on our payroll — we have the ability to dig deep into our own resources, to better understand the work method in different regions of the world.
Jeff Gill, Managing Principal: As international markets look to increasingly larger American type malls, we have learned from them the importance of public space and a sense of community within our retail environs. Projects now incorporate districts and plazas indicative of centuries' old international market design. We have learned the importance of adventure. Intimate encounters within our site planning and design configuration encourage users to explore.
Bruce Barteldt Jr., National Retail Studio Principal: Our recent work in Mexico City's fashionable Santa Fe District has allowed us to be much more progressive than we can be in the United States. Working in one of the oldest and largest cities in the Western Hemisphere alone has invigorated our creativity and allowed our designers the opportunity to explore very powerful image making systems that may very well affect our approach with stateside clients. There is so much to learn from cultural diversity, therefore our decisions are better informed.
Beame Architectural Partnership
David Herbert, Principal: We have been working abroad for the past 23 years developing an acute eye for shopping patterns and adaptability to the needs of a particular culture. Overseas owners are looking for a unique approach to retail design, providing us with a venue to test new design concepts while never bending the “retail rules.” This process usually demands efficiency in planning, budget and time due to factors such as small store sizes, lack of strong anchors and financial concerns. The greatest lesson however has been to never underestimate the guest, who is grateful and loyal to a thoughtful, sophisticated design in any culture. Overseas owners usually offer greater design freedom. And that allows maximum creativity.
Stephen J. Winslow, Principal: We have learned from projects abroad that retail developments are commonly mixed-use and often do not have large anchors. We have also learned that the design approach involves contemporary imagery and color and excitement is often integrated into the project.
John McNulty, Founding Principal: International projects are more similar than they are different from the work we already produce. Many of the same issues that confront us here in the United States are perceived in the same way in other countries. I believe that mixed use, high density developments located in urban cores focused around intermodal transit hubs will be more attractive to developers, planners and to politicians so that new incentives can be provided to stimulate these areas. I also believe that sustainable design as a “lifestyle choice” will also be a prominent feature of new developments.
Ken Sizemore, Studio Leader/Design Architect: Keeping ideas fresh, that's one of the biggest possibilities of working abroad, as that is what our international clients are looking for. Additionally, projects abroad usually present unique development objectives that we need to strategically address, and almost always present a unique site and cultural opportunity that allows our design teams to push the creativity to find appropriate and unique design solutions for each different scenario.
DFD Cornoyer Hedrick
Leo Mendez, Director of Retail Design: Projects abroad demonstrate innovation on numerous fronts, from Latin America to Europe to the Middle East to the Asian marketplace. Retail projects in particular seem not to be inhibited by the code constraints we design to and thus provide for much more expressive and dramatic design solutions. Also, be it small or large in terms of project size, there appears to be a larger awareness of cultural influences that have a positive impact on design solutions. The impact of mass transit is huge in that projects are not necessarily driven by the provision of auto parking spaces and the ability for projects to be located in urban settings minus this challenge again allow for much more innovative design solutions.