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November 10, 2008



We’re hearing that time and location aren’t exactly on a developer’s side these days. So what is crucial to a project’s success during a downturn? We visited Tim Johnson, partner of architectural firm NBBJ, in his Rector Street office to find out—and he says “meaning” is the new money. In short: it’s all about the design.


Specifically, a building’s design influences people’s lives, so projects should focus on the client’s enterprise goals and how the building will ultimately affect its occupants, he tells us. In designing the Medical University of South Carolina’s 641k-SF, $275M Ashley River Tower expansion, NBBJ gave the campus the capacity to adapt to future needs and medical technologies. And the architecture firm’s own office was designed with an open, collaborative, and green theme for its employees. Long tables line the 25th floor’s space, where employees do everything from having lunch together to building models, like Tim (above right) and colleagues Rob Anderson and Jane Ayers. Wall-mounted bike racks (below) were installed for those who like to cycle to work.


Warning to those overseas: If you get the design formula wrong, a project can ultimately fail. In China, for example, mixed-use is not widespread yet. Even though the Chinese want Western capabilities, NBBJ has to apply design in a way that’s compatible with local culture (the firm is behind the 6.6M-SF Dalian Center in Dalian, scheduled for 2010; the 5.7M-SF Yanlord Landmark in Chengdu, scheduled for 2009; and the 2.2M-SF Zhuhai Yanlord Beachfront in Zhuhai, scheduled for 2011). But if done right, design has the ability to bring a whole market up. NBBJ’s The Sail @ Marina Bay mixed-use project in Singapore was designed during a downturn and cost $200M, yet has fared extremely well for the market, immediately selling 500 out of its 600 residential units during an initial soft launch.


NBBJ’s New York studio is also engaged in several high-profile projects in New York and New Jersey, and is helping lead the firm's recent expansion of its retail practice with the introduction of a new dedicated retail studio. When Tim’s not jet-setting around the world, he’s a member of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The Minnesota-born architect lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Golf Tourney Raises $225k for SIDS

Congratulations to the Ryan Wolfe Kossar Foundation—a charity started in 2004 that’s dedicated to preventing unexpected infant and childhood fatalities—which raised $225k in its recent Million Dollar Golf Classic in New Jersey. Jones Lang LaSalle’s Robert Kossar (right, with AMB Property Corp.’s Paul Rosen) co-founded the group.


Former New York Giants Bart Oates (center ’85-’93) and Bill Ard (guard ’81-’88) led the live auction at the event, which was hosted by the Montclair Golf Club and Essex County Country Club. It attracted 280 golfers and nearly 100 sponsors from the tri-state area, with proceeds going to the CJ SIDS Research Initiative. (More information about the RWK Foundation:   www.ryanwolfekossar.org, (201) 393-6850.)

Arent Fox
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