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Retail Traffic

Q: What developments are shaping the retail center of the future?

MCG Architecture

Jeffrey T. Gill, Vice President/Principal: From centers to malls, architects need to respect the need for community space. Our suburbs are becoming more defined with less land to expand. Our cities are infilling to meet housing demands. Because of these needs for housing and improved work/live conditions, architects must respond by creating unique spaces — indoors and outdoors — for public and family interaction. By deconstructing malls to allow better environments and introducing intimate plazas to centers, we create a habitable zone that allows relaxation as we respond to the stress of daily commutes and personal needs.


Bob Tindall, President: Clearly there's a trend toward open-air projects, even in the more severe climates. So, we're dealing with issues like snow removal in common areas where we were previously just dealing with a parking lot and exterior walkways. We're also seeing a big focus on second-tier cities and a desire in those cities for a stronger urban environment. Meanwhile, the larger projects have gotten more sophisticated. Southlands, in Aurora, Colo., is not much bigger than a regional mall project, but with more than 20 different buildings plus the integration of streets, it's a much more complex undertaking. I think you can map all these developments back to people's interest in finding places and experiences they feel are real and relevant to their lives. Authenticity is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but at the heart of it lies the desire for something unique and special to their community.

ka architecture

Darrell K. Pattison, Chief Strategic Officer/Director of Design: Due to less land availability in the populated areas and as a result of urban sprawl exhausting its space, opportunities for retailers have become limited. These limits cause them to consider options such as changing their prototypical layouts to fit into smaller spaces or reconsidering parking options. Parking ratios have been lowered to accommodate the typical crowd rather than creating excess parking that will only be needed a few days of the year. Another reason parking space is significantly reduced is due to the need to share parking among multiple tenants who are part of mixed-use projects.


Tipton Housewright, Principal: We believe the retail center of the future will incorporate more cultural and civic facilities making them true mixed-use destinations. We are seeing downtown or dense suburban areas add high-rise mixed-use retail, hotel, housing and office clustered with cultural and civic facilities creating an attractive quality of life alternative for a wide range of age groups. This type of development will require greater cooperation between public and private entities in the development process.

Beame Architectural Partnership

Olga Pizzi Garcia, Principal: Our culture is becoming more urban. We are looking for a more social and efficient lifestyle where we can spend more time with family and friends and less time alone in our cars. This will be essential as fuel and energy costs continue to rise. Simplicity, experience, environment and tenant identity will continue to supersede architectural design. We also see malls being readapted into outdoor environments incorporating a variety of services such as medical office and even retirement communities.


Bruce A. Barteldt, Jr., National Retail Studio Principal: What “retail center of the future?” That's just it — the retail center — i.e., the strip center, the power center, even the lifestyle center — are dying on the vine or are at least substantially morphing into something much different. What started out as a fringe initiative for renting out the ‘Truman Show’ set after filming was complete (OK, not really), mixed-use and New Urbanism are in the mainstream and have turned into the biggest thing for developers since the invention of CAM charges. Old retail rules still apply: anchors drive tenant mix and traffic. But how do you fit those big boxes with four-per-thousand parking ratios in those cute little villages? That's what is driving the shape of centers going forward: its fitting in the 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods under 200 condos, making the loading dock work while activating the sidewalk with windows where refrigerated cases need to be.

Perlman Design Group

Howard Perlman, Founder: True mixed-use centers are shaping the retail centers of the future, integrating retail, residential and office space into a vertical design that allows people to live, work and play all in the same area. People are attracted to this way of living; it is more social and more convenient cutting down on added costs such as having to drive to work each day. Mixed-use design enhances family and social occasions allowing time for a variety of activities and entertainment venues. We designed the first true mixed-used center in Southern Nevada, The District at Green Valley Ranch. It incorporates residential over retail, office space, great food venues, live music, up-scale shops and an art gallery and it is now not only the hub of the Green Valley community but attracts people from all over the Vegas Valley.

O'Brien Architects

Patrick O'Brien, Director of Business Development: We are in a great period of experimentation in retail centers. Most cities want town centers, even if the requisite components are not there. To enclose or not to enclose? Do you include streets through the project or just walkways, or some combination thereof? Historical Main Street, Urban Grid, or the Pod approach? All are valid in the right context and density. The key is to recognize the appropriate configuration for each specific site and allow the components and circulation dictate the best solution. We're seeing a grand-scale evolution of our shopping environments.

The evolution of the “power town” is another interesting development. We are now working on a number of sites with both specialty and power components. Many junior anchors are not comfortable with the Main Street configuration, but some are now crossing over and recognizing the benefits of the synergy and cross shopping that a town center provides.


Everett Hatcher, Executive Vice President: The biggest impact in our industry over the next decade will be issues about the environment. CMH is currently working on our first several retail projects that will be submitted for certification by the United States Green Building Council under their LEED program for green building design. The developers of these projects can realize the value not only of contributing to the health of our environment and saving on operational costs, but of reaping the public relation rewards that will come to the pioneers of green design. The developers who now invest in the usually very modest costs associated with LEED certified green design are publicly making a statement of principle about their concern for the environment. With present energy costs and concerns about global warming, the public will applaud those entrepreneurs and the resulting good will should make dealings with local communities much easier.

CommArts, Inc.

Henry Beer, Co-Chairman: The great cultural shifts are in information, transportation, awareness of the finite nature of resources, media and finally, the ubiquity of high quality. Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, focuses on how markets will shift to reflect that people will be buying more of less. This observation is crucial to understanding how the transfer of goods, services and knowledge will be transformed. Land costs in desirable locations and the value of existing properties on desirable sites will be points of extreme leverage as the cost of transportation in the near term puts added emphasis on where goods and services can be found.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, President and CEO: Suburban town centers, the revitalization of the Main Streets, and urban infill projects near public transportation will define the future of retail. Baby boomers are looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle, young professionals are seeking convenience and efficiency and families desire a place near home that provides a sense of community. Retail cores within both suburban and urban contexts can provide integrated housing with other uses such as civic, office and education components. These centrally located multi-use activity nodes offer communities a lifestyle that meets the needs of people in all age groups.

MulvannyG2 Architecture

Cho Suzumura, Principal: Developers will need to be aware of cross-selling techniques in malls and lifestyle centers, with a focus on the right mix of retailers. The growing number of department store mergers has caused retailers to become aware that they are losing market share to alternative shopping habits such as online stores. These trends will push department stores to reinvent their spaces and the way they do business.

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 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.

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