Q How are you collaborating with owners and asset managers to come up with solutions for properties where tenants have gone dark?

Arrowstreet

Kevin Nice, Principal: We are very involved in the transaction side of our client's business and have created tools to use in the near term to re-lease and reposition projects. We are teaming with owners, management, leasing and marketing groups to come up with one, five and ten year goals and objective so each move is strategic.

Design Collective

Richard T. Burns, AIA, Partner: Our value in the planning and design process is working with owners and asset managers in developing creative, marketable, leasable and affordable reuse/repositioning solutions that fill a dark void, and create a sustainable synergy that will have a positive spillover effect on the whole development.

GreenbergFarrow

Navid Maqami, AIA, Principal: We first determine the uses permitted by zoning and which tenant prototypes could physically fit into the space. Then, leveraging our relationships with retailers and brokers, combined with our decades of retail design know-how, we prepare leasing and marketing documents for potential tenants.

CDA Architects

Ray Duerer, President: We communicate with clients to assist in finding potential tenants based on market and then work to find a cost-effective solution to help the tenant efficiently occupy the space. Some spaces require an adaptive reuse or conversion to different occupancies so there's no simple formula. Creativity is required.

Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue

Kevin Zak, Partner: We're assisting our clients to assess vacant space, document the condition of the space, and offer solutions for retenanting. Within a matter of days of a space going dark, we're offering our clients viable solutions for releasing the space, as well as an understanding of the associated steps and costs.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, AIA, President & CEO: The most important step is to identify the need of the community, as well as the need of the center. With a strong understanding of market demands, we can creativity analyze the property to discover efficient solutions that fit a clients' goals, schedule and budget.

Q At a time when owners are less focused on ground-up development, where are you focusing your energies to grow your business?

Arrowstreet

Kevin Nice, Principal: A key strength of ours has been helping clients to make projects exciting and viable. All need new income streams — tenants, sponsorships, and increased customer base. We bring architecture, urban and industrial design, leasing, graphics, construction and financing resources to make this happen.

Design Collective

Richard T. Burns, AIA, Partner: We continue to focus our energies on “ground up” development and repositioning, rebranding and revitalizing existing developments. We also continue to devote significant in-depth research on consumer trends, environmental and construction technology advances and evolving design paradigms.

GreenbergFarrow

Navid Maqami, AIA, Principal: GreenbergFarrow's growth strategy includes a concentration on repositioning properties, adaptive re-use, overseas work and public/institutional projects. Also, this is a good time to undertake rezoning efforts of all kinds, and we are assisting many clients with entitlements.

CDA Architects

Ray Duerer, President: Our projects have consisted of more adaptive reuse of vacated spaces, and assisting clients in remodeling or updating current locations. We realize it is important for tenants and owners to be creative in offerings to customers and we help them attain that on limited budgets.

Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue

Kevin Zak, Partner: Historically our project mix has been a balance of new developments and repositioning. We've repositioned developments by adding new outdoor components to enclosed malls, by renovating open-air centers and by being creative in finding ways to add more square footage to existing shopping centers.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, AIA, President & CEO: We are implementing several growth strategies, including expanding international work, and our work in the public arena. Renovations and repositioning projects have become more prevalent and more important than ever. These projects are more sustainable, more challenging and more gratifying.

Q: How has the economic slowdown affected the trend towards more sustainable design?

Arrowstreet

John Rufo, Associate Principal: We are finding that owners are more conservative with their capital and therefore even more skeptical about up front costs versus long-term payback. While audits and planning for sustainability is usually comprehensive, the parts that move forward are often those with quick paybacks.

Design Collective

Richard T. Burns, AIA, Partner: We see no slowdown in the drive for more and better sustainable environments. We are actively demonstrating that sustainable designed built environments can be affordable and produce significant and measurable positive economic, energy, merchandising and branding results for our clients.

GreenbergFarrow

Navid Maqami, AIA, Principal: The private sector is clearly more reluctant to spend resources. In contrast, public, publicly assisted and institutional projects are more determined than ever to achieve sustainability and attain higher LEED ratings. Merely being certified is no longer enough. Agencies are demanding Silver or better.

CDA Architects

Ray Duerer, President: Architects, owners and tenants still desire to be environmentally friendly; however, costs are being scrutinized very closely in this economy. Initiatives that offer benefits at little or no cost are viable and should find their way into all projects, while initiatives with higher price tags are not being seriously considered.

Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue

Kevin Zak, Partner: Sustainability is rooted in our design process and that has not changed. Our clients continue to focus on creating developments that provide long-term viability and offer their customers value that transcends developments of the past — and better positions their development for the future.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, AIA, President & CEO: Our clients are interested in renovating spaces and developing in urban locations. Adaptive reuse and infill development are the essence of sustainable design. Our clients also are focused on cost-saving measures, such as energy-efficient lighting, proper shading and materials that reduce heat gain.

Q What role can architects play in helping increase net occupancy incomes and otherwise helping owners meet their goals?

Arrowstreet

John Rufo, Associate Principal: Because of their unique position, architects can often find the intersection between the economic needs and goals of the owner and the realities of the market in ways that provide opportunities to enhance the physical and social environment.

Design Collective

Richard T. Burns, AIA, Partner: Multi-disciplinary design firms like ours provide tremendous value to owners and tenants by creating unique “place particular” shopping and entertainment experience, which are based on proven merchandising and leasing principles but have a distinct and discernible eye to the future.

GreenbergFarrow

Navid Maqami, AIA, Principal: Boosting net occupancy is key to the process of repositioning projects. In repositioning, one has to re-plan and re-imagine a center or project. To succeed, a newly repositioned project must be both fresh and also more efficient.

CDA Architects

Ray Duerer, President: While rents are dropping, architects have to effect the reduction of building costs to help clients keep projects profitable. It's crucial to design for cost-effective construction by specifying quality yet inexpensive materials, designing for efficient labor installation, and re-thinking superfluous design elements.

Dorsky Hodgson Parrish Yue

Kevin Zak, Partner: We're aggressively offering creative solutions that add to the income side of the ledger. By understanding what has and hasn't worked for our clients, we look for ways to address why a center is underperforming. In collaboration with our clients, we can then offer creative ways to maximize a center's potential.

Perkowitz+Ruth Architects

Sy Perkowitz, AIA, President & CEO: While architects can provide smart design solutions to reinvent a property, other consultants can help program activities that appeal to the target demographic or mobilize tenants to participate in special promotion. Today, a 360-degree approach is essential to truly help owners meet their goals.