Retail Traffic

Q: How are the mixed-use projects changing the way you do business?

Perlman Design Group

Howard Perlman, Founder: For Perlman Design Group it hasn't changed the way we do business at all; since the beginning we have been designing these types of uses, as the firm is uniquely able to handle all these types of mixed-use projects. Our expertise includes award-winning residential and commercial design and planning entities, all together under one roof enabling us to design beautiful but functional buildings that are completed efficiently and economically. When designing a mixed-use project we put together an unparalleled team that includes experienced planners, residential, retail, office designers and project managers. We coordinate everything in-house so that we don't have to rely on outside consultants, making the overall process smoother for us and our clients.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, President and CEO: The value of the integration of retail has been recognized by communities, institutions and developers. More and more, retail has become an integral component of many developments, including office, residential and education. Retail and entertainment bring energy and life to these developments and often other benefits including shared peak/off peak parking utilization and extended duration of visit. With careful planning, the integration of retail with other uses can create synergies, encourage activity and human interaction and contribute to the sense of place many developments aspire to achieve. Our firm's understanding of a variety of project types has facilitated our ability to successfully plan and design projects that incorporate a variety of uses.


Tipton Housewright, Principal: First, mixed-use projects make marketing our services more challenging because we must demonstrate competency in multiple building types. Secondly, it makes the project much more complex so it puts more pressure on fees and project schedules and creates greater liability exposure. Mixed-use projects also increase the likelihood that larger, more complex project teams will be necessary which requires more project management and communication. We are seeing our clients joint venture projects when each one has a particular expertise in a building type. We are also considering architectural joint ventures with other firms to strengthen our qualifications.


Bruce A. Barteldt, Jr., National Retail Studio Principal: Over the past four years, we've shifted the majority of our attention toward mixed-use projects, whereas in the past decade we were focused primarily on neighborhood and power center developments. Fortunately, we already had a wealth of experience in single-use commercial, residential and civic land-use/planning projects. Also, we have had decades of retailer-based services — i.e., supermarkets, restaurants and other “destination” retailers that drive tenant mix. These two benefits have allowed us to enter into mixed-use with knowledge-based value — by merging a host of project types through integration with a firm grip on what drives successful retail. We now are deeply involved with developing identity, making decisions that define a community's social fabric and causing greater interconnectivity between neighboring communities — all very exciting and challenging stuff that retail experts didn't really touch a decade ago.

CommArts, Inc.

Henry Beer, Co-Chairman: It hasn't changed our business. It has profoundly changed our retail clients' world. Our practice since the beginning has been obsessed with cultural shifts and behavioral transformation — with how real people live their lives. We also work in the areas of resort and education and the knowledge and insight gained there can now inform our retail work. We've watched with great interest as our retail clients have begun to acknowledge the benefits of the “body heat” generated when people actually live and work in their developments, rather than just shop. Retail has never been a standalone activity, although in the early days projects were located and constructed as if that were the case.

MBH Architects

John McNulty, Founding Principal: We are experiencing the opportunity for the individual studios within MBH, set up to handle specialty developments such as master planning, hotel, restaurants, large and small format retail and housing to share ideas and begin working in close connection with each other from the start to the finish of our projects.

O'Brien Architects

Patrick O'Brien, Director of Business Development: Many single-use projects can be completed with phone meetings. In mixed-use projects government interest and client participation rises. Consensus building is intense. Therefore the demand on our firm rises in terms of managing the process. More charretes and meetings are required.

ka architecture

Darrell K. Pattison, Chief Strategic Officer/Director of Design: Whenever there are multiple components included in a project, the complexity level rises. Development teams are typically formed creating joint venture opportunities. With these opportunities come challenges. The challenges with joint ventures range from determining leaders to establishing priorities. There is also a need to share knowledge that may not be as pertinent in smaller projects. Architects are able to provide expertise in areas that the developer may not be as familiar. For example, a retail developer will rely on their architect for the residential component. This creates a demand for architecture firms to have pods of knowledge throughout their firms that will meet the ever-present need to provide added value to a client.

MCG Architecture

Jeffrey T. Gill, Vice President/Principal: If residential mixed-use, the biggest concern is insurance. Current caps only allow a small percentage of condominium work, even though the overwhelming majority of lawsuits are unrelated to the architect. Until legislative changes are enacted to better protect architects, risk exposure is critical in contract negotiations, limiting our ability to assist with much needed housing development.

MulvannyG2 Architecture

Cho Suzumura, Principal: Mixed-use projects today are centered on creating the perfect place for people to shop, work and live. They require easy access, convenient parking, flexible architecture, a well-defined merchandise mix and an inviting atmosphere. These projects are changing the way we do business because they are multi-faceted, requiring the design to focus on a shopper's experience and the need to be integrated into the community. Our goal is to create a setting that will make a merchandiser shine and ultimately create a vibrant environment that will attract customers.


Everett Hatcher, Executive Vice President: Developers who five years ago would have scorned a development that wasn't 100 percent retail are now wholeheartedly embracing the idea of mixed-use. Urban sites have always had mixed-use developments, but the real change we see is the trend toward combining retail with office and residential uses in suburban markets. Many of these projects tend to be planned for large tracts of land where a dense mixed-use “town center” transitions horizontally to townhouses then to single-family homes. There are many challenges to combining uses. Office/retail requires that dedicated parking is readily available for office tenants, which during the Christmas season can be a real issue. Residential units, particularly condos in suburban areas, should have dedicated parking that is secure and segregated from retail parking. The bottom line is that over the last decade, retail design has radically reinvented itself and is still evolving fairly rapidly.


James P. Ryan, Chairman: The retail real estate sector continues to evaluate the ever-changing market by researching its very reason for existing: the customer. The timeline needed to evaluate changing market trends and provide an accurate development that transcends the information is crucial to a successful project. The acceptance of a public willing to forego a controlled comfort environment for the “freedom” of being outdoors is a 21st century phenomenon that is now acceptable in projects located in some rather uncomfortable seasonal environments with broad climate changes. The densifying of land both horizontally and vertically with diversified uses is not a new model for development on this planet. Many European cities and towns have found the “right” mixture to blend retail, residential, entertainment and civic uses into wonderful places to be. Our planning and architectural solutions for our clients are to understand the customer, the program uses and the culture of the region. Our experience in these diverse uses together with new alliances, has allowed us to develop a business plan that benefits our clients with successful designs that meet development goals.


Bob Tindall, President: The biggest impact we're seeing on mixed-use projects, especially on the domestic side, is that owners who have traditionally done retail developments are now taking on multi-use projects, although they don't necessarily have the background in developing these new components. We're finding we need to be a lot more comprehensive on the information we're providing on both the pro forma and design-related issues. For example, in giving up building efficiency because more exiting is required, sometimes through an adjacent use, how will costs be assigned? What about access easements for existing but unrelated uses? What about future phases? Helping clients find the balance of opportunities intrinsic to their particular project is, for us, one of the most rewarding aspects of the process.

Beame Architectural Partnership

Olga Pizzi Garcia, Principal: Mixed-use developments are the majority of our work and have been for some years. A specialized understanding of each of the uses, their physical needs and their business model is essential to create a successful project. Each use requires separate identities and often separate services. Multiple owners may have to be considered. Many municipalities don't recognize mixed-use in their zoning codes so close coordination with the city is required. To meet the challenge, we brought together a multi-disciplinary staff with specialized experience in each building type that we create.

Architects Orange

Jack Selman, Senior Partner: We have emerged as a leader in the design of mixed-use projects. However, this has not changed our way of doing business. Traditional retail projects (neighborhood, promotional, entertainment, factory outlet and lifestyle centers) make up 70 percent of our work. Traditional retail, as well as mixed-use, Main Street or entertainment centers all still demand a thoughtful, innovative solution that responds to the client's program.

TAGS: Development
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