For insight about trends impacting the A & D marketplace, OM Workspace® Account Executive Theresa Comer spoke with Ali Khatibi, IIDA, and Karen Campbell, associates at Callison, a Seattle-based global architecture and design firm, with expertise in urban planning, mixed-use, residential, retail, healthcare, corporate, mission critical and hospitality markets worldwide.
TC: What types of challenges are you helping your clients address?
KC: Right now it’s not business as usual. The main challenge is that times are still tough and clients are looking for cost-effective design solutions. This provides more opportunities to bring creative ideas to the table. Instead of moving into new spaces, some of our clients are rethinking how a space designed 15 years ago can better serve their business today. Other clients are reducing the square footage they occupy and are more open to alternative work environments. Decreasing the number of personal workspaces and introducing collaborative, multiuse areas can be a better use of available space and increase business productivity by encouraging a free flow of ideas. Multiuse areas also provide remote workers with a physical place to touch down, plug in and meet face to face.
TC: What developments are you seeing in the A & D marketplace?
AK: Clients are looking to architect and design firms to provide cross-functional services that leverage best practices in design and workplace planning. Commercial real estate brokers, landlords and clients have shown interest in our approach, so we have applied our process for large campus work to small and midscale corporate and commercial interior projects. To meet this growing need, we developed a team to focus on execution and delivery of these types of projects.
Currently, we are working with a wireless telecommunications client expanding nationwide and will enter 80 new markets before the end of the year. To help the company open field offices quickly and efficiently, we’re using our retail roll-out processes that we retooled to work for corporate tenant spaces. This includes leveraging our extensive jurisdictional database and a concise set of drawings with a reduced number of sheets. These standards help the entire project team know what’s required, streamline the permitting process and ensure a smooth project from start to finish.
TC: What’s new in retail space design?
AK: Overall, the industry is looking forward to 2011 as a year for expansion, but right now, clients want budget-friendly ways to refresh their spaces and extend their brands. In the current economy, one way we’re helping clients is by updating existing signage and other branding elements. Our clients in luxury retail are looking to explore sustainable options that will help them manage costs — such as reducing lighting expenses — while still providing high-end product displays.
Consumers want customized experiences, which is mainly a result of the level of personalization they have on social media platforms. We anticipate being challenged to design retail stores for the masses that also cater to the individual. One solution we predict seeing more often is the incorporation of digital technology into spaces. For example, a “shopping bot” application on mobile phones will connect consumers to retail outlets by letting them scan an article of clothing in a retail space and compare it with their entire wardrobe at home to help them decide if it’s a smart purchase. This technology has the potential to impact space planning and flow.
TC: What trends are you seeing in corporate office space design?
KC: We’re seeing new technology being used in corporate spaces. For example, our client, HP Halo, is offering a telepresence program allowing people to communicate in real time without the lag typically experienced with video conferencing. The system is set up in a room designed specifically for use with the Halo system. The room on the other end of the connection will look exactly the same, each with a series of video screens and virtually no lag time, which gives users a definite sense of sitting together face to face. Not only does this solution eliminate costs associated with business travel, but it also encourages more touchpoints because it’s easier to reach out.
We’re also seeing a trend toward more modular and open spaces that employ glass and other translucent materials to improve sight lines and day lighting within the office. Manufacturers also are incorporating wireless technology with embedded devices that can charge electronics by simply placing them on a desk instead of plugging them into an outlet.