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When designing a shopping center, convenience for the shopper is critical. Whether the project is a renovation or new construction, perhaps the most important quality is to create an identity that shoppers will connect with instantly.

“Identity is a big thing,” says James P. Ryan, chairman of JPRA Architects, Farmington Hills, Mich. “The identities created can and should be as varied as the projects themselves.”

JPRA's current work on the renovation and expansion of Waterside Shops in Naples, Fla., and the recently completed Vaughan Mills near Toronto, Ont., Canada, provide very different identities for each center, Ryan notes.

Joint developers, The Forbes Co. and The Taubman Co., charged JPRA Architects with a renovation and expansion to transform the existing Waterside Shops. The 203,000 square feet of tenants are anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue. A vacant Jacobson's will be replaced with 30 retailers and restaurants, and the existing center will be renovated. Completion is set for spring 2006.

Waterside Shops' Mediterranean motif will be replaced with a sophisticated contemporary atmosphere in keeping with the market. “The key,” according to Ryan, “is the opportunity to reconfigure the traffic patterns in the center.” Two cross-axis will define the retail walkways. A 30-inch high, 450-foot long, curved stone wall with water features will guide shoppers through the center.

In some respects, creating an identity for the new 1.2 million-square-foot Vaughan Mills was easier. The center opened in November 2004. JPRA served as the design architect for the center, with Bregman + Hamann Architects as the project architect.

The first enclosed mall to be built in Canada in 14 years, the Ivanhoe Cambridge/Mills Corp. joint venture was designed as a series of neighborhoods and courts using artifacts indigenous to Canada. Despite Vaughan Mills' value orientation, the developers invested heavily in quality materials and finishes for the project.

“They didn't hold back on the quality of these spaces,” Ryan observes. “The Mills Corp. is also very strong on environmental graphics.”

Contact Info

JPRA Architects
31000 Northwestern Hwy.
Suite 100
Farmington Hills, MI 48334-2585

Telephone: 248.737.0180
Fax: 248.737.9161
Web site:
Size of Firm: 75
Year Established: 1978
Key Contacts: James P. Ryan
James Grigsby
William J. Beitz, Jr.

TAGS: Development
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