Creating work, play, live destinations

An evolution of increasingly more time-consuming commutes — resulting in less leisure time — is driving many consumers toward mixed-use centers. Consumers are searching for environments where they can work, play and live. Cleveland-based architecture firm Dorsky Hodgson + Partners is stepping up to the retail market's newest challenges by offering creative design solutions. “If you look at why certain urban sites are successful, it's mainly because the developments have created a variety of activities that keep people on-site before, during and after a particular use,” says Mark Herbkersman, a senior design architect in Dorsky Hodgson's Washington office.

A recent open-air, mixed-use development is the proposed Legacy Village, Lyndhurst, Ohio. Scheduled for ground-breaking on a former sprawling estate site, Legacy Village — a 67-acre project for developer First Interstate, Beachwood, Ohio — will be a city within a city when initial phases reach completion in 2004. The 635,000-sq.-ft. lifestyle retail center will include a two-story, 80,000-sq.-ft., Jacobson's department store as well as 12 mid-sized, national chains, and 40 to 50 smaller retailers. Because the area is expected to be active long after dark, the retail stores will have plenty of window space that at night will let additional light flood out to the streetscape areas.

Designing a mixed-use center that will satisfy clients and local residents will be Dorsky Hodgson's major challenge. Although the project was approved by local referendum, the city is requiring the firm to create an environmental buffer zone between the project and local residences. This buffer zone will utilize much of the tract's remaining green space.

Another challenge is designing access roads to the retail, which will be solved with a Main Street thoroughfare and a ring road surrounding the project. Because the retail area has purposely been designed with no backside, the ring road helps make the center inviting as well as accessible from all sides.

While Dorsky Hodgson has a large land tract on which to develop Legacy Village, other mixed-use projects are less spacious, creating inherent design challenges. For example, Belcrest Center will include a 165,000-sq.-ft. two-level retail center, a multi-plex cinema, 300,000 sq. ft. of offices, and 290,000-sq.-ft. of multifamily residences surrounding a large plaza outside the Prince Georges Metro Transit Station, Prince Georges County, Md. “This is a more dense and urban area than Legacy Village, but it plays on the same notion that people want to be in a safe, active, and enjoyable place,” Herbkersman says.

Developed by Taylor Development & Land Co., Miami, and leased by Charles E. Smith Realty, Washington, Belcrest Center's phases of construction will begin next year with completions beginning in 2005.

Dorsky Hodgson + Partners will continue to be a part of the mixed-use center evolution. “People are realizing that multiple activities can occur near each other in a very successful and vibrant way,” Herbkersman says.