Delivering value and differentiation in Main Street designs

Dallas-based OMNIPLAN Inc., founded in 1956, employs 56 professionals on a variety of projects, including large-scale retail, university, corporate and commercial office, institutional research and development, and high-tech manufacturing and assembly. For its retail projects, OMNIPLAN offers architectural and interior design, graphic design, construction administration and project management.

No matter what the project, Tipton Housewright, AIA and principal, says there's one thing the firm must absolutely deliver for clients today: value. “With the economic uncertainty the nation is currently experiencing, our designs must now, more than ever, deliver value to our clients. Our designs must offer real benefits such as increased sales or increased customer convenience and comfort.”

In the firm's recent Chandler Fashion Center, an enclosed regional mall in Chandler, Ariz., providing value for the client, Westcor Partners, meant creating a realistically sized outdoor village. The village incorporates today's Main Street concepts, while only offering the square footage necessary for the market. OMNIPLAN finds that one way to offer more value to clients is to develop more cosmetic and graphics-based solutions and minimize structural changes in its redevelopment and renovation projects. “Our clients are not interested in paying for design for design's sake,” Housewright says. “Value is important in both our new retail design and in our redevelopments.”

Yet another trend the firm is seeing in retail architecture today is a growing need for differentiation of developments. “Every market we design in today has a great deal of competing retail,” Housewright says. “Differentiation can take many forms, from outdoor Main Street environments to theaters, restaurants, and even improved seating and restrooms.”

OMNIPLAN believes Main Street design is here to stay. Three out of four retail projects the firm works on today have outdoor Main Street or lifestyle components, says Housewright.

Eden Prairie Center in Eden Prairie, Minn., is one recent redevelopment project for the firm. The 25-year-old enclosed regional mall, a holding of General Growth Properties, has undergone a total interior renovation and a new graphic identity for the property. Additions to Eden Prairie Center include a theater and Main Street restaurant component, a new food court and new department store.

Another project is Simon Property Group's Firewheel Center in Garland, Texas. The regional mall will feature 1.2 million-sq.-ft. of GLA. “The design has been conceived to recall regional, vernacular forms, while at the same time recognizing the need for a contemporary fashion environment in the suburb of Garland,” Housewright says.

In both the Eden Prairie Center and Firewheel Center projects, differentiation was needed to help the properties stand out from nearby competitors. “In both projects, we sought to utilize regional forms, materials and art to make these properties stand out in very competitive environments.”