Regency Centers’ goal with the Shops at Highland Village in Highland Village, Texas, was to bring a true social and commercial center for a town that had grown so quickly that it did not have one. However, the design team at O’Brien & Associates had neither the budget nor the inclination to produce another 1880’s “photo real” downtown clone that has become so popular in town centers around the country. Instead, the team set about designing an intimately scaled, walkable downtown with an urban grid.

The design is a contemporary spin on a traditional Hill Country ranch. The project features seven different types of stone, complemented with standing seam metal and clay tile roofs and accented with a warm tone color palate on tilt wall. Each shop has a unique awning—either made of galvanized metal or cloth—that provides shade and an individual identity.

The buildings are 90 feet face to face, to promote cross-shopping, and have angled “teaser” parking at the storefronts, so in off-peak times, mothers with children in tow, can park in front of the shops they came to visit.

The design team visited numerous other town centers to research this project type. It found that most of them strived for architectural statements, at the expense of the overallshopping environment, and customer comfort. It was O’Brien’s belief that that “15-foot out and 15-foot up” at the storefront is the critical design enhancement zone, as well as focal points at the end of drives and the corners of buildings. The rest of the buildings can be modestly expressed, and allow the landscape and hardscape to be more dominant. This is done in the form of trellises, fountains, shade trees, shade structures, benches, play areas and other amenities, all of which serve to increase dwell time.

The budget was the primary challenge for the project, which was built during a super-heated construction market. O’Brien met the budget for these 20 small buildings, which were finished on all sides, by utilizing tilt wall construction and adding materials to the facades in interesting colors and textures. Every building on the project is unique.

Project Name: The Shops at Highland Village
Location: Highland Village, Texas
Square Footage: 351,631 square feet
Architects: O’Brien & Associates
Owner: Regency Centers
General Contractor: Hill & Wilkinson
Geotechnical Engineer: REED Engineering Group
Civil Engineer: G&A Consultants
Landscape Architect: Linda Tycher & Associates
MEP Engineer: RH George & Associates
Structural Engineer: Raymond Goodson Jr. Inc.
EIFs: Dryvit
Brick: Boral Bricks
Arriscraft Stone: Blackson Brick Co.
Simulated Stone: Coronado Stone
Light Fixtures: Two Hills Studios Inc., Luraline
Paint: Sherwin-Williams
Clay Tile Roof: Monier Lifetile Clay
Metal Roof & Awnings: Berridge Manufacturing Co.
Sealants: Tremco
Grout: Spectrum
Canvas Awnings: Sunbrella
Storefront: Kawneer