Moving beyond the conventional
With more than four decades of industry experience in a single office location, Dallas-based Omniplan Architects continues to provide quality service and design in architecture, interior architecture and planning. From its beginning, a core value of Omniplan has been a dedication to excellence in design. Recognized by 74 design awards, including three 25-year awards, Omniplan was honored by the Texas Society of Architects in 2000 with the Architecture Firm Award — the highest honor the Society can bestow a firm.
One of the firm's most recent and unique projects is the 1.3 million-sq.-ft. Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, Ariz. Opened in October 2001 and developed by Westcor Partners, Omniplan designed the center to reflect the Chandler community, past and present. To meet the design needs of its client, the firm used indigenous agricultural elements from the area's past including native stone, standing seam metal roofs, copper and wood. Moreover, the project represents a strong new direction in retail design, combining a mega-regional indoor mall with a unique and intimate outdoor retail and entertainment village.
“We like that the project was not going to be just another mall,” says Garrett Newland, economic director for the City of Chandler. “Westcor's intention was to make Chandler Fashion Center a fashion destination — bringing in the southeast Valley's first Nordstrom store and other first-in-market stores that would really distinguish the shopping experience from any other in the Valley.”
Omniplan met Westcor's design needs — and then some. “We understand and remain openly attentive to our clients' needs and wants, transforming our clients' visions into quality design,” says Omniplan principal Tipton Housewright. The design of Chandler Fashion Center is innovative on several levels. First, its basic organization moves beyond conventional mall design — gone is the idea of a single Main Street mall. Chandler Fashion Center has four Main Streets that link the major retail anchors of the mall. Each of these streets, or legs, has a different spatial quality and intersect or terminate into large spaces nicknamed living rooms. These rooms replace the traditional mall courts as the social gathering area.
Another special design component is the way in which the public shopping environment flows from outside to inside, changing in scale and environment, while pulling together different facets of the same experience. “We are very excited about the indoor/outdoor trend (in regional malls), and are excited to be the first city in the state to have that as an element of the project,” says Newland.
The use of natural light was a key consideration when designing Chandler Fashion Center. From the 80' tall, northfacing wall of glass in the food court to the carefully composed apertures along the south face of the curving, east-west leg of the mall; each major mall or space has its own quality of light and atmosphere. “We wanted skylights, energy efficient apertures and a design that would not be driving up the utility bills. We also wanted to make sure the indoor/outdoor experience would be able to coexist in February when it's 70 degrees, as well as in August when it's 110 degrees,” says David Scholl, Westcor SVP. Thanks to the design efforts of Omniplan, mission accomplished.