DESIGNING FOR A NEW AGE
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|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 firmNBBJ, in his Rector Street office to find out—and he says âmeaningâ 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 theMedical 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 compatiblewith local culture (the firm is behind the6.6M-SF Dalian Center inDalian, scheduled for2010; the 5.7M-SF Yanlord Landmark inChengdu, scheduled for2009; 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 unitsduring 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 newdedicated 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 inBrooklyn.|