Seattle, Washington

Building consumer connections

Designing retail destinations around the world has taught Callison Architecture many things, but the two that cross all borders are know the target customer and design it relevant to them. “In this highly competitive market, we know that the developer's business success is to a great degree dependent on having a razor-sharp focus on a specific market,” says Callison principal Stan Laegreid. “This is where Callison's ability to holistically package every aspect of the development, from the tenant mix and site strategy to the environmental experience and positioning story, helps owners narrow in on their highest and best target.

For people to connect with a place, they have to feel like it belongs expressly to them. For Bay Street, the vibrant new extension at the International Plaza shopping center in Tampa, Fla., Seattle-based Callison honed in on creating an intimate, outdoor setting designed for the lifestyle and tastes of Florida's Gulf Coast. “We explored the streets and talked to people, researched the area influences and developed a mix of tenants and design direction that expresses Tampa's identity,” says George Wickwire, Callison principal.

Approaching a revitalization project is no different. Regardless of how long a shopping center has been in operation, to grow or even maintain customer share, the most important question to ask is: Who is my customer? And then create an environment of merchandise, service and experience around the answer. “Developers we work with have realized that's a very different question from ‘What tenants can I get’,” notes Wickwire. “The ability to tap into something meaningful to the customer provides a point of differentiation that brings long-term value to their properties.”

For the newly renovated Manhattan Village shopping center, Callison worked with Madison Marquette to capture the needs of the South Bay's upscale market. The center was restored to its original luster with the fresh look of a sophisticated beach house. To support the new approach, the food court was renovated to make room for new tenant lease space and the exterior was recreated to reflect the character of a seaside village.

Top-ranked as both store and hospitality designers, Callison has a cross-industry perspective that lends considerable power to many of today's trends in retail. For example, as more resort destinations strive to become vital, all-season communities, Callison has found a demand for sophisticated retail planning and design in these and other mixed-use settings.

“Enlivening a ski resort with a village component filled with restaurants, stores and services or weaving a retail and entertainment component into a multi-hotel and residential development, demands the same understanding of the customer's lifestyle and desires that we apply in a purely retail setting,” says Laegreid.

The firm is in its second year as a member of Insight Alliance, along with partners Thompson Ventulett Stainback & Associates and Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo. Using Insight Alliance to bring together a diversity of specialists, Callison has been able to meet the increasing demand for alternatives to the typical stand-alone mall.

In China alone, Insight Alliance has three large-scale mixed-use projects underway, combining retail, entertainment, residential, public assembly and hotel to create one branded community experience.