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Reviving Retail

Dallas-Ft. Worth

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Reviving Retail
Retail isn't dead. It's just in need of a serious injection of economic improvement, Omniplan principal Tip Housewright tells us. To that end, the Dallas-based architecture firm performed its own operation on the recent $265M redevelopment of Macerich-owned Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, Calif.
 
Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, Calif.
Tip says the 500k SF 1980's-vintage, fortress-type mall was closed down, tenants removed, the roof ripped off, and completely transformed into an outdoor  property that opens up to the urban area around it. That area was reborn, too, and now flows into the project and creates a connection to the center. Retail opportunities still exist, they just look a little differently than they did a few years ago, Tip says. In other projects, Omniplan has a retail consulting gig at DFW  Airport as well as Highland Park  Village. The firm is also consulting on a Lower Manhattan retail project, as the reconstruction efforts at the World Trade Center are changing the characteristics of that area, Tip tells us.
Tip Housewright
We caught up with Tip at the Dallas HQ, perhaps re-enacting a scene from A Beautiful Mind. He tells us that the 54-year-old firm, which has historically focused on retail, is working a list of projects including a Dallas public library, a new school of business at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and a biomedical research center for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Omniplan is also part of the $1.3B Parkland replacement project.
Watermark Community Church
Omniplan recently completed an out-of-the-ordinary project for Watermark  Community Church in Dallas involving the adaptive reuse of an office building while also adding a new space to the church. The leadership wasn't interested in conventional, Tip says. No stained glass or steeples. To accomplish that, Omniplan designed a pond in an outdoor space framed by new buildings for outdoor baptisms, and a common area with a limestone fireplace and coffee bar nearby. “We used a lot of natural materials and exposed structures to give the building character,” he adds. The message: This is a welcoming place where people don't feel like they have to whisper when they come in.