7 Questions For New CannonDesign CEO Brad Lukanic
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Design firm CannonDesign—which has worked on projects such as PNC Park and the St. Louis Public Library—has announced Brad Lukanic (pictured, center, with some of his previous projects) as its new CEO. Brad resides in NYC, the world's most competitive market, as opposed to the previous CEO, who was in Buffalo, where the firm has done several projects in the past.
We wanted to pick Brad’s brain to see if we’re about to see more of his firm in the future, but found the future is what Brad’s building the foundations of CannonDesign on.
Bisnow: Can you describe your background?
Brad Lukanic: I’ve always wanted to be an architect. The ability to shape environments is a passion of mine. Prior to Cannon, I worked for Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, a NYC architecture firm that focused on libraries, performance art centers and other cultural facilities, and it was there I really learned just how much a building can transform a neighborhood. But I joined CannonDesign because their portfolio and capabilities allowed me to form longer relationships with clients over multiple projects, and because I’m finding the world is changing and growing more interconnected, and I felt that CannonDesign was focusing more on this integration than others.
Bisnow: What are some examples of projects that have changed their environments?
Brad: The conversion of a High Line into a public walk was a synergy between architects, engineers, activists and so on to create an experience. For me, I got my roots in designing libraries and student unions, which have definitely become more interconnected.
Bisnow: Speaking of libraries, are you planning on working on any educational projects in NYC?
Brad: We were just selected to repurpose and reimagine three of the NYC Public Library’s Carnegie branches, so it’s more on the community side.
Bisnow: A lot of CannonDesign's work is with new construction, which is incredibly expensive in NYC. Are you planning to keep the firm true to this role, or will you be experimenting with revitalizations of older properties?
Brad: At least on the education front, 70% of our work is on repurposing and reimagining structures in light of the changes in education funding cycles since 2009. Organizations that now have the funds want to sit down and see how they can change their buildings to make them more connected.
Bisnow: How do you see CannonDesign evolving under your watch over the next few years?
Brad: I think the reconnection and reinvestment in urban environments is critical, as they're growing, and will only continue to grow, as people move away from suburbs and back into the cities. In NYC, we’re doing a new residence hall for Pratt University in Brooklyn, medical facilities for the leading healthcare institutions and the NYMEX electronic trading center. But the forward-looking mindset I mentioned is really what we’re focused on overall.
We’re also making our method of delivering projects more integrated. Within the last two years, through a merger and acquisition, we created a design-led construction armature for the firm, meaning that we can deliver projects turnkey from both design and construction points of view and help get these projects get to the market quicker.
Bisnow: Some design firms are using new technologies like Big Data in their design. Are you planning on adopting more tech?
Brad: I was at a seminar by the Aspen Institute where they discussed the acceleration of the Internet of Things, and how everything’s growing more interconnected. And the question was raised if design and architecture companies could harness this technology, and my answer is a resounding yes. Everything—from how we deliver the project to the information that hits you as soon as you enter a space—can be shaped by the IoT.
There’s going to be a lot of workforce development and training as old jobs are repurposed or eliminated, and more nimble institutions that create highly integrated experiences will flourish. Medical facilities in particular are using Big Data to focus more on preventative care and create programs that foster wellness, so engineers and designers should use this data to design facilities to suit that focus.
Bisnow: How else have all these forces changed the way you look at design?
Brad: Innovation isn't a static exercise. For CannonDesign, we work to push the boundaries to create the trend rather than respond to an ongoing trend, and we’ve been lucky to work with some very forward-thinking clients. So we hope to keep that up as the months progress.