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Q: Are there new emerging design techniques or materials owners are asking for?

Brown Craig Turner

Bryce Turner, President and CEO: Precast concrete is in high demand for use as exterior walls. The pricing is competitive and clients don't want to be slowed down by the long lead times for poured in place concrete and steel. There is also a new type of glass that allows good penetration of light and doesn't look like traditional tinted glass but significantly reduces heat gain.


Bruce Barteldt Jr. National Retail Studio Princial: Yes, but it's the planning departments that are demanding the owners to re-think their approach. Many times, this directly affects tenants. For example, requiring buildings to be right at the street edge and often mandating “two-sided” tenant faces causes the entire floor plate to change so that they can operate effectively. Four-sided buildings cause higher construction cost unless economical materials are used. The trick is to make it work, without making it feel cheap.

O'Brien & Associates

Jack O'Brien, CEO: As construction costs have risen, we have relied more on interesting color palettes in paint selections and the use of simpler materials. You can do a lot with paint and exposed galvanized metal. Our aim is to maintain a high aesthetic standard despite volatile construction costs.

Mulvanny G2 Architecture

Cho Suzumura, Principal: Retailers have always understood the value of their brand — it's a promise to their customers. Developers are becoming as brand conscious as retailers. Having a distinctive brand helps them stand out, and enhances the customer experience. With an established brand, new developments are immediately recognized as belonging to a specific developer and the community in which it's sited. Having an identifiable brand also adds value when updating existing retail centers.

BL Companies

Ahmed Mian, Staff Architect: The 21st century is upon us. The world's finite natural resources are being pushed to its limits. A new and healthier consciousness is slowly rising. From this high-speed paced world innovative design, construction technologies and materials are emerging to sustain our environment's natural balance and be less dependent on it. The new materials and practices are evolved from years of experiences. Their application gains us partnership with this new millennium.

Perkowitz + Ruth

Sy Perkowitz, President and CEO: Green design is what owners are now asking for, and the varying materials and techniques that support sustainability. Clients are also looking for design innovation and creativity in the planning process that complements strong building design.

MCG Architecture

Jeff Gill, Managing Principal: More efficient mechanics and materials help counterbalance escalating costs. There is still a bottom line of profitability we need to meet while responding to design requirements, codes, and life cycle costs. Researching new products, reviewing them with our clients, and incorporating them into our drawings are important to the success of a project. Our specifications need to be up to date and consider energy saving requirements while keeping in mind the bottom line cost.


Stephen J. Winslow, Principal: We are tracking the changes ahead for an aging population. We are pursuing sustainable design as much as possible for all projects. We are tracking trends for even greater integration and mix of use for retail office, hotel and residential with major emphasis on modern design.

Architects Orange

Jack Selman, Senior Partner: An interesting trend in development is to revisit an existing, older retail center that, after 25 years or so, has evolved to be in a strategic location that yearns for not only an architectural redo but the addition of new uses such as residential, office or hotel. These well-located, older projects have a great potential for tremendous increase in value. They generally need to incorporate a parking structure to allow for more GLA, which is placed on a second level and possibly a third or fourth level in the case of a residential component. The trick is to keep the existing major retail tenants in tact and open for business during the construction phase of the new GLA.

DFD Cornoyer Hederick

Leo Mendez, Director of Retail Design: This an interesting question as technology has had the biggest impact in the methodology by which design is executed and presented. Our clients are asking for computer-generated models, computer-generated renderings, physical models and 3D mass models. Essentially anything that provides them a real time visualization of where the project is in design is the thing most sought after.

ka architecture

Ken Sizemore, Studio Leader/Design Architect: Retail is continually reinventing itself to meet customer, market and brand influences. Owners on the other hand are not often asking us for new techniques, and they are geared more towards tested formulas. In our approach we have to reconcile these two dynamics. We know the market culture is very influenced by new ideas and this affects our design approach. We see our job as helping owners see opportunity and value through new ideas, techniques, materials and applications — while serving their development objectives effectively.

MBH Architects

John McNulty, Founding Principal: 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 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.

KKE Architects

Brian Arial, Managing Principal: Owners are always encouraging the exploration and use of cost effective materials, which can mean many things. First cost efficiency is important to the developer who is likely to sell, or “flip,” a project shortly after completion. Life-cycle cost efficiency might be the focus of an end-user owner or developer whose strategy is to hold and manage a property. The decision to upgrade to system efficiency is usually made by the long-term owner/developer.

Beame Architectural Partnership

David Herbert, Principal: Owners are more sophisticated in their knowledge of design and materials. They are requesting more 3D visualization of their projects, generated by computers. We have new software that allows us to study a multiple of design options prior to fixing the design. This also helps owners become more involved in the decision making process. Owners are also requesting more high-tech materials that provide efficiency and flexibility in the finished product. These have included LED light fixtures, computer controlled energy management systems and high-tech materials and metals.


Bob Tindall, President: The ongoing rise of construction costs puts increasing pressure on speed to market. New computer programs exist that allow designers to better communicate with developers to make quicker, more effective decisions. With new rendering programs and communications tools, we can give clients more information to help facilitate the decision process.

Dorksy Hodgson Parrish Yue

David O. Parrish, Partner: People today want much more from retail centers than just products and services. Certainly, our busy lifestyles demand that shopping, entertainment and working environments be in relative proximity to one another. But most of all, we seek to regain a sense of community lost through more than 50 years of urban sprawl. Mixed-use lifestyle centers help to fill that void by creating an urban focus, by drawing us together through our very nature as social beings and offering spaces that encourage interaction with one another. The trend of mixed-use, open-air centers is still young and will likely grow over time. Yet this convergence of once-distinct retail, office and residential sectors creates fundamental architectural and planning challenges that are best met by architectural firms that know how to weave these elements together seamlessly.

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