Chicago, Illinois

Reaching beyond borders

Many European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries are looking to North American design firms to play a pivotal role in developing shopping centers abroad. “With much of the United States over-developed in the retail market, many firms in North America are using this opportunity to broaden their portfolio of international work,” says Anthony Belluschi, AIA, principal of Chicago-based OWP/P Belluschi Architects, a division of OWP/P, offers national and international experience with large-scale retail, mixed-use and hotel facilities.

The international marketplace has long been a strength for OWP/P Belluschi Architects working as designer with a local Architect of Record. A super-regional shopping center designed by OWP/P Belluschi, Granada Town Center, is now in construction in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This 1.5 million-sq.-ft. regional shopping complex, the first of its kind in the country, represents a foray into North American-style retail centers, offering retail, restaurants, an entertainment center, courtyards and landscaped terraces. Major anchor tenants include a hypermarket and European specialty stores, linked along the center's perimeter to provide access and drop-off points.

Les Quatres Temps Retail Complex in the La Défense business district of Paris was awarded to OWP/P Belluschi through an international design competition. Clad in glass and stainless steel, this redevelopment project will provide a high-tech new image on the main plaza, which is near to the Arc de la Défense, located on axis with the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. This 1.8 million-sq.-ft., multi-level complex will include a complete interior renovation and expansion, relocation of a multiplex cinema, and renovation and expansion of the façade, entryways and terraces. In the United States several trends are developing in response to waning demand for traditional shopping center formats in older suburbs.

“A boom in high-density residential construction has stimulated street-level retail development as baby boomers seek a greater sense of place when moving out of their empty nests,” says Michael J. Sullivan, AIA, a principal of OWP/P Belluschi. “In newer suburbs, developers seek to substitute new projects for the traditional downtown experience.”

At Aspen Grove in Littleton, Colorado, OWP/P Belluschi has designed an outdoor center that has a scale, tenant mix and auto-oriented convenience that appeals to the customers in this affluent community. Most significantly, it also provides a public space, surrounded by restaurants and cafes, that its developer Poag & McEwan believes will eventually become the heart of this community.

The ongoing rebirth of America's urban centers is providing the greatest opportunities and challenges for architects and urban designers. For many aging, affluent Americans, cities are filling a need for public life of which, until recently, they were unaware. Urban centers require developments and districts where people can live, work and play without driving to each activity. In Chicago, Grand Plaza, designed by OWP/P Belluschi, is an example of this new breed of high density, vertically layered mixed-use development. Retail on the lower two floors, including a full service supermarket and 1000-car, fully enclosed parking garage, serves the development and neighborhood. The 764 rental apartments in the two high-rise towers cater to the residents of the trendy River North area.