A conversation with Alan Pullman of Studio One Eleven After only six months of business, Studio One Eleven - the new urban revitalization and retail redevelopment division recently created by architect firm, Perkowitz + Ruth, Long Beach, Calif. - has already begun work on more than six major projects. Alan Pullman is a Studio One Eleven senior associate and its creative director.
SCW: Your rapid growth illustrates a need for urban revitalization. What's the secret to procuring these projects?
Pullman: For us, getting the private sector involved in developing projects is very important. Because it's our home city, Long Beach has been like a laboratory for Perkowitz + Ruth long before Studio One Eleven came along. We see a trend of partnerships between private and public sectors where the resulting redevelopment agencies actually function like developers now. So we find ourselves acting as a liaison between the government, private sector and the community. Another related trend is the fact communities are really becoming involved in these projects, especially when public money is concerned.
SCW: What's unique about Studio One Eleven?
Pullman: We're only about six people, so we can bring the focus that a small team offers. However, Perkowitz + Ruth, which has about 140 professionals, gives us the resources a large company offers.
SCW: The key to urban revitalization as well as retail redevelopment seems to lie within trends, public taste and forecasting what people will want five to 10 years in the future. How do you stay abreast of trends so you're offering your clients projects with longevity?
Pullman: There are a couple of websites I visit regularly. One website is www.saatchikevin.com by Kevin Roberts at Saatchi & Saatchi, which is kind of an ideas company. We're constantly looking at this site to keep up with how people are approaching buying, consuming, cities and how they all work together. Another website is www.futurist.com, which is a trends report. A magazine that really doesn't cover the retail industry, but is invaluable for trends is Fast Company.
SCW: Why has urban revitalization become a trend?
Pullman: The research and demographic trends we see are childless couples and professional couples who are moving downtown to locate near work. They're looking for the type of life and culture you'd find in a downtown area. Because people are moving back to the city, retail is following them. Manufacturing is disappearing from the big cities so they're being redefined as cultural centers for a lot of communities. Retail trends are moving toward that cultural purpose by incorporating entertainment. Shopping and dining are seen as entertainment.
SCW: What were the challenges facing the Los Angeles suburb of San Fernando and what prompted the city council to hire you for its downtown revitalization?
Pullman: They wanted a consultant to create a physical vision that would articulate their goals for two parking lots that consumed about eight acres. San Fernando has a population of only 24,000, but the local San Fernando Valley region has about 500,000 people it can draw from. There's a church in the downtown area we wanted to use as the key focus in the project because of the large Latino population that attends the church. We made a large square in front of Saint Ferdinand Church. Now the square not only feeds into retail development, but it also functions as a big gathering point for church as well as community festivals.