Integrated-design firms combine a variety of services to simplify design and construction and provide client peace of mind.
By Joshua Zinder, AIA, and Ashley Servis
The shifting, expanding role of interior designers in the delivery of built space has been welcome news for building owners in recent years. Yet, it has created some confusion. Clients are navigating a marketplace that includes renovations of interiors in building shells in aging urban cores, while many tenants demand higher levels of specialization. This causes owners to worry that they may make unfortunate decisions based on bad information and guesswork.
Entering this marketplace is an innovative approach to practice: the integrated-design firm. These firms combine expertise in two or more disciplines under one roof. For example, many offer architecture and interior-design services, industrial design of products and furniture, and graphics and branding. Many commercial clients find this approach enormously valuable. Here are a few reasons why.
Learn more about integrated-design firms
in our interview with Josh Zinder and Ashley Servis.
Single point of contact
Commercial-building owners have their own challenges and are unlikely to be comfortable working separately and simultaneously with an architect, an interior-design firm, a branding specialist, and a graphic designer. Working with an integrated practice, a client has a single point of contact and can be certain at all times that one firm is responsible for all output.
At the recently reopened Princeton Pike Corporate Center in Lawrenceville, NJ, JZA+D’s integrated-design team delivered a striking entrance exterior with brise-soleils solar shading for one structure, and in a neighboring building, newly accessible entrances into a central lounge and dining area with a striking sculptural wood canopy at its center. These opportunities created brand value for the owner and are the direct result of an approach that considered architecture, interior design, and branding together.
For clients who are invested in a brand identity, project results tend to be more unified and consistent working with an integrated-design team. Consider a commercial-properties developer repositioning older office structures to compete with neighboring Class A buildings. For them, a recognizable brand identity means that the tenant knows immediately the quality of space and amenities, and is likelier to pay a premium. Or, consider the owner who wants to visually distinguish their properties from others on the same campus. This was the case for 1 and 5 Independence Way in Princeton, NJ. While another facility separates them, the two properties are recognizable and identifiable by iconic branded entrance porticos, giving them immediate curb appeal.
For hospitality projects, integrated-practice models are adept at creating boutique experiences within larger properties, giving travelers the enjoyment of a “find.” At the Sands Macau resort and casino in China, the renovation of a fast-casual noodle-and-dumpling restaurant, adjacent to the casino floor, has paid dividends. With interior design and architecture in unimpeded collaboration with the client group, the solution includes striking circular openings inspired by the “moon gates” that are found in Chinese gardens. The openings create a relaxing dining atmosphere while simultaneously providing visibility between the dining room and the casino floor.
While working on several projects for the Las Vegas Sands Corp. within the world-famous Venetian resort and casino, JZA+D’s interiors specialists identified an unused space on a prominent and heavily trafficked corridor. While small, the space was large enough to become home to a gelateria, generating new traffic and income for the owner group, rather than the space gathering dust.
Another way of thinking about integrated-design delivery is peace of mind. The client deals with one contact, one group, from planning through design and construction and into operations. In the end, the complicated design-and-construction process is simplified, the client receives the best investment value, and their valuable time is spent running their businesses. CA
Joshua Zinder, AIA, is founding principal of Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D), an architecture and interiors practice headquartered in Princeton, NJ. Ashley Servis is a senior interior designer with JZA+D. She designed the interiors for the lobby spaces at Princeton Pike Corporate Center.