Callison stays ahead of the curve

Callison Architecture has designed shopping centers in Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. But one of the projects the Seattle-based firm is proudest of is right here in North America — in Broomfield, Colorado. “FlatIron is a major mall, with a total of 1.5 million sq. ft. including a 250,000-sq.-ft. village with six restaurants and other retail,” says Bob Tindall, president. “The challenges here included designing an indoor mall and outdoor village that would work separately. There are no outparcels here.”

Callison created the village for customers seeking the convenience of close parking and individual entrances with a transition space connected to the mall. Another challenge was designing a major shopping center that looked as if it truly belonged in the terrain of the Denver-Boulder corridor. Callison incorporated a 50-ft.-high glass wall to allow visitors to enjoy Colorado's spectacular beauty. “We put in a lot of effort to make people want to go here year-round,” Tindall says.

On a smaller scale, Callison is providing complete retail design services for the Bay Street Outdoor Shopping Village at Tampa's International Plaza. A planned hotel will add to the mixed-use flavor of this development, says Callison principal Stan Laegreid. Restaurants and shopping will serve locals as well as hotel guests. “Bay Street borrows from the soft entertainment of restaurants plus a food court to make this an 18-hour destination,” Laegreid says.

There is likely to be a substantial increase in such mixed-use developments in the United States. “Future development will be more dense than in the past,” Tindall says. “The architect has to understand offices and hotels as well as retail.”

With a hotel, for example, there are issues of getting guests to the entrance easily and giving them the opportunity to put their cars in a secure place. “Most shopping centers have been turned inward,” Tindall says. “The trend now is to turn the center outward by creating friendly, open spaces. People are demanding places where they can feel good about spending time.” Urban shopping centers also must fit in with the immediate community, Laegreid says. “We gave Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Ariz., a resort quality, with arrival points, a porte cochere and a rotunda that resembles a hotel lobby, reflecting the spirit of resorts in this community.”

The company got its start back in the mid-1970s when a modest staff of 12 designed a store for a local company by the name of Nordstrom. Today a staff of more than 400 works on projects ranging from master planning and architecture to smaller interior assignments to various types of graphics.

According to Tindall, the future will demand greater flexibility on the part of the architect. For that reason, Callison earlier this year joined Insight Alliance with Atlanta-based Thompson Ventulett Stainback & Associates and Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo. The purpose? To share resources and projects when needed.

“We did this instead of waiting to be forced to do it, project by project,” Tindall says, adding that Callison's staff already supplies a wide variety of talents in various architectural and design areas.