Baltimore’s Imprint on International Markets
Ahsin Rasheed, CEO of Baltimore-based architecture firm DDG, told us yesterday over Skype from Dubai (between stints in Jakarta and Istanbul, in case you already felt trapped by this winter) that his firm landed its first gig in Ghana. (The company started in Johannesburg 43 years ago and has experience in 50 countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Egypt). In Ghana, which has one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, it's designing a 250k SF retail project on 22 acres on George Walker Bush Highway in Accra, the capital. The New England-based developer is in talks to as much as quadruple the land, so DDG also is doing some master-planning for hotel and residential uses. Ahsin says the first phase will be mid-market retail, though what he designs will be a model for the country, considering it has only one multi-story mall that has escalators.
Above is DDG's 646k SF Grand Metropolitan mall in Bekasi, Indonesia, an hour outside Jakarta. A five-hour drive from Accra, in Kumasi, Ahsin is designing a similar program to Accra, but it’ll also include a public green space for gatherings and entertainment/performances, a little Central Park, so to speak. Ahsin says Ghana has national names like KFC and Coca-Cola, but it’s not at Starbucks status yet. The developer instead will go after South African names, which boast a more Western influence, especially for the cinema and food court. Each project also will have grocery and department store anchors. DDG moves fast: It started the assignment earlier this month, Ahsin went to Ghana to inventory the market three weeks ago, it’ll deliver the first concept next month, and the developers want to be moving dirt by the end of the year.