CEO Terry Montesi speaks with David Glover, Principal and Global Director of Mixed-Use and Retail Centers for Gensler. David discusses his architecture background and his current work with Gensler, as well as his thoughts on retail design best practices. They look at the changes David sees coming to brick-and-mortar retail due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what developers need to do to bring back customer confidence in retail, and his perspective on the future of retail.
For more information about Gensler, visit www.gensler.com
Terry Montesi: This is Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark Property Company. Welcome to trademarks podcast’s Leaning In, where we look at the future of retail and mixed-use and how we can lean into it as others are leaning out.
On today’s episode, we’ll be talking to David Glover, principal and global director of mixed-use and retail for Gensler. We discuss his approach to design and placemaking and the impact these have on retail and mixed-use places.
David and I look at the changes he sees coming to brick and mortar retail due to the COVID pandemic, what developers need to do to bring customers back confidently in retail and mixed-use places, and he shares this perspective on the future of retail and mixed-use and technology and the consumer and all the things they’re in. Thank you so much for tuning in.
So, David, you’ve worked in various areas of architecture design and placemaking for over 30 years. And you’re now the global director of mixed use and retail for Gensler. Share some of your background and your company and how you got into that business, and some of what you’re doing today.
David Glover: Sure. Well, first of all, Terry, thanks for having me today on your podcast. It’s really great to be here with you, and I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you for having been able to work with you over the years with you and Trademark. I’ve always found that our partnerships and our collaborations have always been extremely stimulating and really rewarding and I certainly learn from all these experiences.
Thanks. I have to say I’m really a lucky guy. I really fell into retail mixed-use with my first job right out of school. I’ll just tell you a little story. So, my last year at USC school of architecture, I was a scholar in residence at the Gamble House in Pasadena, and during that time I met a lot of architects, a lot of people; it was a fantastic year. This was 1984. And upon graduation in the summer of 1984, I was still living at the Gamble House, kind of finishing my term there, and I got a call, very serendipitously. I got a call from an architect, a local architect named John Jerde. I didn’t know who John was at the time, but he called me, and he asked me to come visit him in his office in Silver Lake.
And so, the very next day, I went to see him at his office, and he toured me around. Remember, this is 1984, this was the summer of the 1984 LA Olympics. He was in charge of those Olympics. So, there was all these colorful banners and colorful Sano tubes. So, I’m walking through this sort of cavernous brick old powerhouse with all this color – for a kid out of school, it was just unbelievable, like candy – and we finished the tour in this very large conference room, and it was a big tall space. On one wall was this enormous, crazy model. And so, I asked John, ‘what is that?’ And he said, ‘well, that’s Horton Plaza’.
And this was again, 1984. It was finishing up and it became this iconic new kind of retail shopping center. It made the cover of magazines and it was spectacular at the time. It really broke new boundaries. And so, at that very moment, he goes, ‘well, would you like to work here?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to work here’.
So, I did, I started the very next day. I started the very next day and I worked there for 12 years, and it was an amazing time. During those 12 years, days were very long, but I was very fortunate to work on really high-profile projects, domestic and international. And that’s where we kind of practiced the craft of placemaking. That’s where I learned about that. Then I think I really spent those 12 years getting my master’s degree or doctorate in placemaking. I would say I was very fortunate to be working with amazing people and collaborating in a very co-creative environment.
And it was after those 12 years that I thought it would be very interesting to spend time on the owner side. And I did that. I spent 10 years in trying to get myself into the shoes of owners to feel what the risk was like, to feel and see what it was like to be on the owner side. It was really a great time for me. I learned a lot during that time, I hired a bunch of architects.
Montesi: And who were you with?
Glover: So, I spent the first part of that time with Universal Studios and we tried to roll out CityWalk around the world. And this was at a time when all the other entertainment companies were trying to invest in doing things, what they call outside the berm; Disney, Sony, you name it, we’re trying to do these things. And what they found out was that they were great software companies, not great hardware companies. They weren’t developers.
They learned the hard way, but we tried very hard to do it. I ended up leaving there to go to work for a Westfield and spent five years there in their design group and had a chunk of their portfolio. So, through all this I hired a series of architects and consultants, including Gensler. And over time, I got to know Andy Cohen, the CEO of the company of Gensler and he’s just a phenomenal leader. He became a really good friend of mine and ultimately, I accepted a job 13 years ago to come to work at Gensler, to be their mixed juice and retail centers practice area leader globally, and like I said, that was about 13 years ago. So, just a little bit about Gensler, this international design company.
We actually see design as strategy and action focused on outcomes and on results. What we really try to do is help our clients envision a better future that they can get to successfully, and co-creatively search for those call innovative solutions that affect real transformation.
Montesi: What are some of the places you you feel like y’all are really doing that or have really done a great job of executing on that vision in mixed use and retail.
Glover: Mixed-use and retail, I think that the latest one, I think is in Nashville where we’re doing a project called Fifth and Broadway in Nashville opens up soon.
Montesi: I’ve been there.
Glover: Okay. Great. So I think that’s a good project that really talks about how to stitch together parts of the community and become not only a destination, but becomes a place that others in a catalytic way can work off of Hub on Causeway in Boston – another one we just opened again, poor timing, unfortunate timing, but as soon as that is able to be fully open, I think you’ll see that as a pretty substantial project that solves many problems for that two acre piece of land and stitches itself into the community.
Montesi: Thanks David. So, when you look at designing a mixed-use retail place, what are some of the most important things that you’re focused on?
Glover: Well, I think it’s one thing and I think that this is a question that really gets to the heart of what fuels me every day. It’s something that guides all of my creative ambitions and it’s something that I believe has a deeper meaning today in this real time of chaotic convergence. To me, design and place-making is all about quality and quality to me – after giving a lot of thought over these years – is when a place, or a space, or building, or an event moves me, really moves me. I think about this a lot. I think about what is it that truly moves me, and how do I get that into my work? I think quality is that kind of emotional exchange between the built environment and the user, the era of attention.
This is about holding somebody’s attention. It’s that visceral moment when something inside of you connects with that place in a special way, that sort of beyond ordinary life experience way that can elicit a real emotional response that doesn’t require any specialized knowledge at all, nothing more than one’s own emotions to make that happen.
All of it happens to every one of us in some way, some time in your life it’s happened to you, it’s happened to all of us. And what we’ve been able to figure out is that great places have a defined persona, a persona really that can trigger that aesthetic emotion. I call it emotional aesthetics. And as you know, Terry, I’m not really one of a particular style. I’m one of evolving a story, a narrative.
Montesi: It’s something I like about your style, as you know.
Glover: Well, it’s that highly emotive sense that you get, that sometimes it’s difficult to describe. Sometimes we just are at a place and we feel something. We can’t describe it. We just know it and we know it feels amazing. It’s that part of it – quality is really what my focus is.
Montesi: What are some of the places that you feel like, whether you’ve just simply visited them or whether you were part of the design, that actually really did that, or do that well?
Glover: Whether you’re on a mountain top somewhere, and you just have this visceral connection, this emotional connection, or you’re at a place like the Milan Galleria, I have a visceral connection with this place, and I love talking about that place. I love visiting it. To me, it defines not only that emotional aesthetic, but it also defines something that never needs to change. It’s just good. It’s been there for 180 years. It’s never been touched – the content and stores have changed over time, but the place has never changed.
And boy, wouldn’t it be great if we could get to a point where we design a place once and done, versus thinking of it as a ‘we got to do put a new form of lipstick and a new color on this thing, and maybe it’ll go another 10 years and then we’ll think about what the lipstick is on that’ versus ‘why don’t we try to make something that has an emotional aesthetic that we know is timeless, that we know is just right, Let’s think about that. Let’s think about things in a different way’.
Terry, I’d like to make a distinction. We typically talk about design in sort of functional and performative terms. While we tend to describe an encounter through feelings or emotional language like we’ve been talking about.
And so, these two things can be quantified. They can be codified, but why do we oftentimes separate these two things? I don’t think we should. These things don’t happen independently, experience doesn’t happen independently from design. They act together, they merge and blend to create an overall experience.
So, we’d be better if we start talking about these things collectively.
Montesi: What about in this country? What are some of those that you feel like do that well, and again, not being on a mountain top, but the built environment.
Glover: Let’s get back to where we are in development. Well, I think from, I don’t want to speak for myself, but I think we did a pretty good job if I could say at Century City, working again in a co-creative, co-authorship way with Westfield and Kelly Wearstler to create a place that resonates its context. What we really thought about at Century City was creating a place like you’re in somebody’s great backyard in the Hollywood Hills.
That was the narrative. A place that was for people, and for people to just hang out. Of course, we knew we were going to create a place that dynamically was all about retail, and scientifically was all about retail, and eating and dining and entertainment. But we wanted to try to go beyond that, to create a place that people just felt comfortable coming to and hanging out as an everyday experience. So, I think it’s those places that get beyond just trying to be a hub of transaction and try to be a hub of culture is where I think we all should be trying to head, getting out of that transactional method of thinking.
Montesi: Thank you. So, there’s a lot of malls in this country that control good locations in good markets, but they’re an old format that’s not really viable anymore. What do you see happening to these going forward? What are some of the things that you guys are doing or that you’ve seen that you find the most interesting and repeatable that we could all learn about?
Glover: Okay, there’s a lot there, I don’t know if you agree, but I think this is probably in my 35 years of doing this, this is absolutely the most fascinating time in the industry and to be in the industry. It’s tough. It’s challenging. The opportunities are amazing that are out there. Some of the best, greatest pieces of property that have great visibility, and have great access, and have great trade areas, great demographics; they sit in wonderful places within cities, not just the suburban ones, but even the urban conditions. As you know, unencumbering the property is the toughest task, but once you can do that, if you can do it, it completely liberates the asset and reveals great potential to become transformed, and new kind of place.
And that’s what we’re working on. We’re working on probably 20 or 30 of these right now in the U.S., what we’re seeing and what we’re doing – and I’m sure a lot of your audience will probably be active in this – is rethinking the entire piece of property, and it’s a lot about densification. It’s a lot about creating a new town center, because again, these are perfect locations for becoming a new town center.
So, are there any happening right now? Yeah, they are in design and planning right now. We’re lucky enough to be doing several of those, they’re all different. They’re all market driven. So, they have different forms of crafting a different mix of uses. But I think you’ll see a lot of ‘live work play’ on these properties. Because you’re talking hundreds of acres, right? Anywhere from 80 to 150 acres at a time, which allows you to do quite a bit. We did 2 million square feet at Hub on Causeway on two acres. So, if we can do 10 million on two acres, we can do a lot of damage. I think a lot of it too, Terry, has a lot to do with the relationship and we’ll talk about this in the future of our conversation today, but it’s the relationship of public space to the new development too. I think that what we’re finding is that being outdoors is the place to be open air, not just because of COVID, but because of just the way that we are living our lives these days.
Montesi: Are there any design solutions use integration solutions that you’re seeing that you find as maybe ah-ha’s that you see being repeatable versus just you’re working on 20 and you’ve got sort of 20 different solutions and we won’t know for five years, which ones worked? Are there any that in your mind, David, are rising to the top or seem sustainable, repeatable, and intriguing?
Glover: Yeah, I do. I think for one of our good clients, Crusoe Affiliated, I think, I think Rick has a great understanding of what works – and it’s not just design. I talk about this a lot. I talk about what I think is going to be the future of places that are successful or not. Yes, it is in part the relationship of program, the diversity of program, the diversity and relevance of the retail and F and B.
But I think fundamentally the thing that is going to separate those that are big winners from those that are not big winners is the service, is how you service your client and service your customer, and treat everybody really, really well and really care about your customer, not only your customer, that rent space from you, but for your customers’ customers. The people that visit there. We’re seeing great advancements and some of this stuff is pretty straightforward and sounds innovative, but it’s pretty straightforward stuff.
Montesi: As you know, we’ve hired a couple of people from Caruso and have gotten in the guest services business.
Glover: I think that’s where it’s at and that’s going to separate the winners.
Montesi: You think that’s even more than a particular use or a particular design solution. That’s how you make them feel, how you treat them?
Glover: A hundred percent.
Montesi: We’ve both lived through these last several months, and the COVID related pandemic and the ensuing quarantine, we’ve seen the retail headwinds that have been multiplied by the pandemic and retail and mixed use.
The way people are going to interact with that really has been changed exponentially. So, what are some of the changes you see in physical places that have been forced by COVID caused by COVID? And what are some of the ones you really think are going to survive long-term? And maybe even some silver lining, some good things that have happened to come out of COVID? So, your ideas on COVID and what it’s going to do to what you and I do.
Glover: It’s a great question. I think that my short and simple answer is ‘small is the new big’. And I think that is here to stay. Everything that we’re looking at now, Terry, we’re looking at downsizing or rightsizing retail to other uses – every single project. Every project, if it’s ground up or if it’s a repositioning transformation project, it’s downsizing its right sizing.
And I also think to the extent which its possible, open air is where it’s at. Taking the roof off, getting people outdoors. Making sure they’re comfortable, making sure that they’re shaded or heated, but we will always yearn no matter what COVID has done I think if anything it’s really strengthened our commitment towards being around each other. We know we like to be communal.
Montesi: We know we hate the way it is right now, certainly.
Glover: That’s one thing we know. We want to have enough room where we can stroll in environments where we have natural light, we have fresh air. And that provides us with that distinct contrast to what I think is stifling atmospheres of indoor malls. I think we’re seeing a difference now and hey, that’s coming from a guy that lives in LA. So, it’s easy for me to say that, but I think that we are seeing a lot of open-air projects in environments where we didn’t use to see that.
Montesi: So, what do we, as mixed use and retail developer operators and designers need to do to get that customer back and to give them confidence to come to our places after the pandemic?
Glover: I thought about this and I think we have a purpose and it’s our purpose as a unified industry of developers, landlords service providers, designers… Our purpose has never been more clear than it is today. And I think that we need to be laser focused on the critical role of our cities and really designing for people, not designing for ego, not designing for anything other than for the people that it serves.
We used to say that people work, live, and play in environments. I think what people are doing today is they’re live, live living. Everything is blurred, right? We’re doing everything all at once. So, the environments that we’re creating are for people to live their lives. And that’s a large statement I understand, but it it’s different for every kind of property.
But there’s something bigger going on here, beyond COVID that we really need to pay attention to. Unfortunately, COVID has been compounded by this whole tapestry of other preexisting global epidemics that affect all of us. Get this, Americans are lonelier than ever, right? The latest Cigna US loneliness index came out at 61%, 61% of adults report being lonely. And that’s up about twice what it was 30 years ago. Our social networks are a third smaller and we’re far more likely to live alone. Today, almost 30% of us homes have just single occupant, 30%, up from 17% in 1969. The number of annual marriages is in decline and the same for birth rates, they’re slowing.
So, we have much more to deal with than just COVID. We have these social problems that require us to do things differently. So that’s a lot to consider as a new normal, it’s not just COVID and this is just the first step there could be. You know, I don’t want to be Debbie Downer, but there could be another crisis coming up, who knows? We need to advance ourselves to protect ourselves against those things. But I would say as landlords, developers, designers, we need to think about our future and the future state. And we need to think about it differently.
Montesi: For our multifamily division, thinking about where you have a lot of one bedrooms, people are living alone, but they want to live in community and really creating a real community where they don’t feel like they live alone. They feel like they have got my own bedroom and yeah, there’s a door around it, but I live in a community.
Glover: I think CitizenM is a great example. CitizenM is a hotel. That’s one of those micro unit hotels. We just finished one in Seattle, we did the one in Boston. We’re doing several others. And so, here’s a case where – this really hits at your point, Terry – where the unit itself is a micro unit.
The hotel room is the width of a bed, but the social and community amenities that they have in the base are incredible. And that’s where people are all coming together. And that’s where, not just people that are staying there, but actually it becomes a kind of urban neighborhood place for other people to come into and relate to each other and be communal; it’s a very interesting example of what I think is part of the future.
Montesi: Great. Thank you. We’re focused on experience at Trademark Amenities, amenity rich walkable places, and high service places to deliver what e-commerce can’t to our customers. But what role do you see design and place-making having on this going forward?
Glover: Yeah, it’s a really important question for all of us, I think and for us, we think that what’s central to design and placemaking is taking an empathetic look at human behavior and what drives us as consumers. So, a couple of years ago, we completed a very long and in-depth study of the impact of design to what it has on experience. We wanted to understand and determine how could you ever quantify the impact of design on experience.
Montesi: Y’all do some of the best research and globally, I think, on experience and consumer behavior and how a customer interacts with places.
Glover: Well, thanks. And so, it was a great journey. I was actually part of the experience index research group that went and did this multi-year project, which the effort was to identify and to quantify the factors of design and what that impact is on the human experience.
So, in doing so, we surveyed thousands of people all over the United States doing ethnographic studies in an effort to get a much deeper understanding of why people go, where they go, and how design impacts their behavior. And ultimately, how does that inform how we design spaces to deliver great experiences?
So, we asked very simple questions. What makes a great space and how do you measure human experience? That that was more of a difficult one, but after all of that research, Terry, what we developed was this kind of framework, this experience framework. And at the core of that framework is, what motivates people? What are their intentions? What are consumers intentions? What gets them out of the house? We call those the experience of modes. When we understand a person’s intentions or their expectations and their motivations and their behavior. In the context of space, we can begin to really define quality of an experience.
Basically, it comes down to two things. It comes down to fast, and slow. What I call fast shopping and slow shopping. Fast is that task mode. And that’s about 49% of why we leave the house to do things, or not leave the house. We can go online to buy things. We can go to the grocery store to get groceries, go buy new shoes, get shoes fixed – to me that’s the task mode. And that’s being heavily, heavily disrupted by technology today, as we’re seeing even more so with COVID, the juice is in the slow, the juice and the differentiation is once you’ve solved for task, then you still haul for the other 51%, which is in the slow mode, which are the four other modes, which is social, discovery, entertainment, and aspirational.
And it’s those four modes there that can differentiate you from other, and that’s where it becomes much more contextual, and again, differentiating. So, what we focus on is solving for task and then slow, like I said, is where the juice is. And it’s focusing on the balance between the fast and slow mode. So again, task we find is about 49%, almost half and the other, which has all tasks. And then the other, the slow modes are contextually specific and idiosyncratic to particular locations. And then the role is really creating a nuance in the design to solve for those things to wrap around those modes.
Montesi: That’s very interesting. You’ve mentioned technology a couple of times. What do you see as the role of technology and retail and mixed-use places going forward? And I know that Gensler y’all are seeing that everybody’s calling on you with the latest and greatest of AI, and all the different technologies that are allegedly going to disrupt or change our lives. Tell us about where you see technology going, some of the things that are really interesting and how it is likely to impact retail and mixed-use places in the future.
Glover: We’ll talk about technology, but I want to start by saying that let’s not let that fog the real issue here, which is really to embrace the human side of retail. I would say that the role that technology plays is simply to make our lives easier, better, and more efficient – frictionless, which we talk about a lot.
There’s really no question that technology has set a new precedent for immediacy. But at the same time, it’s created a new standard for efficiency. So now time has become our most valuable commodity. And that’s what we’re really solving for is people’s time, giving people their time back to them somehow.
So, if we take a look at what’s really going on with consumers, we see that they’ve completely taken over brands. They’ve decided that they’re in complete control – or we are in complete control – of what we want, and we’re in complete control of what types of products that we want, and every brand is competing for our attention.
So, the competition’s really fierce. I mean, just look at Black Fridays. When there’s a scarcity, everyone goes nuts and tries to get that deal. The brands that understand the behavior of scarcity understand and keep consumers wanting more. Just look at Michael Jordan and Nike, what that did to people. And there’s so many examples of that. Our expectations are high, and we have no problem telling anyone and everyone just how we feel on any platform at any time. And we know what we want and how we want it. And when words fail us, then we go straight to the emojis. But you know, you’re seeing these reactions in real time.
That is really causing all the different brands and developers’ landlords to think differently. And it’s had a pretty topsy-turvy effect on how consumers are in control and what their relationships are with brands. And so, the question really comes down to is how will retailers respond to all of this? And some are getting ahead of it. And some are slightly falling behind, and we know who those are. There’s everything from anchor store department stores to smaller brands; they’re getting bruised or fallen by the wayside. It’s really critical that they respond properly to this conflation of place technology.
Montesi: So, you see more technology as the disruptor, more than really a game changer and how people use places.
Glover: That’s a disruptor, but you can use it to your advantage is what I’m saying. While technology has really disrupted the sort of browse by cycle, almost 65% of shoppers today – and this is a stat that came out very early in the year, pre-COVID – but almost 65% of shoppers still want to see and touch merchandise. They still want to go to the physical place. 65%. That’s a pretty big number.
Montesi: I’ve seen that millennials and gen Z even are interested in and see an antigen in interacting physically with a brand.
Glover: And 75% of consumers want there to be more human interaction in the future than less. So, it’s those human connections and the relationship between the brand and its audience that I think are going to be important for everybody to consider in the future. It’s not just about technology, it’s the human side of retail. It’s important.
Montesi: As you think about the future, I think your minor was in prognostication if I remember at USC. So, what are some of the things you see in the future that we may not have experienced yet in retail and mixed-use places?
Glover: Well, I don’t know that we haven’t seen it, but I do know where I think our focus should be. And I think one of the most important aspects of great – we use the term mixed use for these. Mixed use has been around for centuries, mixed use places…
Glover: Yeah neighborhoods. But I think the most important things that we really need to get back to the basics on is great public space. And we need to take back our streets and make them friendly or public domain – bottom line, very simple, but I think we really do. We need to understand these and analyze and map out these kinds of circulation patterns, and we can learn a lot and we can predict future behavior using technology in the right ways. And all of the effort to create more enhanced and better environments in our lands and our urban landscape.
I think what you will see and what we’re seeing is more interest in partnering with the public sector since so many of the zoning requirements need to be re-evaluated, and they need to be re-evaluated to really better accommodate better mobility and to reduce parking costs and the need to drive. You’ll start to hear a lot from Gensler and others about the 15-minute city that is to create sustainable and resilient places is to form a better connection between uses that is we’re living and playing and working in very close-knit areas so that we can reduce the amount of reliance that we have on vehicles. In doing so I think, and we think that it makes for a better living when you’re not so spread out.
Montesi: You’ve mentioned earlier sizing every single project out of 20 or 30 or 40 you’re touching is reducing the retail program. As you look forward for retail and retail anchored mixed use places as I call them, and you think of the size and the makeup of the retail program. And the thought that my partner taught me Miller always mentions retail as amenity. And then you mentioned public spaces. Give us an idea of your thoughts around retail shrinking, but what is big enough and public space? We used to have, you know, X amount of retail for X amount of public space.
Give us an idea of, as you look forward, size makeup. Retail public spaces. What are some of the things that are on your mind?
Glover: We have projects all over the world, and they’re all so different. From Sydney to Gwangju, to South America – all over. And I got to say that there’s lots of continuity, but there’s also great variation in how people use space and context means everything. Here’s an example; we’re working on a soccer stadium in Gwangju China, a hundred thousand seat soccer stadium, giant stadium, but it has a 1.5 million square foot shopping center inside the stadium, on the periphery, connected. So, it becomes this one building. Imagine that, the size of Century City around this giant stadium.
Montesi: The Cowboys stadium with Century City integrated into it.
Glover: There you go. So, we’re seeing these new hybrids. We’re seeing new ways of putting things together and how people really behave and how they want to behave and what they what’s really important to them.
We’re seeing what size should a public space be? Well, that’s a really tough question to answer. I think it’s just really particular to the property, but I think that more than ever before we consumers today are driven by purpose. We’re driven by the purpose and the belief of what a brand really stands for, which I think is probably more important than sizing up a space or figuring out the program necessarily.
But it’s more important what they stand for then what they’re selling, is what we’re finding. It’s more about heart share than market share I guess I’d say. Having a real purpose is about connecting. Like I was talking about before, this sense of quality of connecting the place to the need and leaving something behind that makes for a better world.
Anytime we get involved in a project, we’re looking not only at the design, but also at what its purpose is and what else could it really stand for beyond just selling leasing space and selling stuff to people. What else can it contribute to society is really important to us to make for a better world as we’re reshaping cities now more than ever before, purpose is more important than ever before. And people are getting behind the brands with a mission, and they’re motivated to support these places with this sort of coalesced ambition through a purchase, products and through the services, buying those services. That’s how they’re supporting, thow they’re saying ‘we belong together, and we think the same, we have the same belief systems and therefore I will support you through purchases and through your services’.
Montesi: You didn’t exactly answer my question. Have you seen or experienced or drawing any conclusion about how small a mixed-use project with some retail and the retail as amenity, any idea how small it could be, what the makeup would be? If it’s small to really still feel like a destination worthy of a retail program that supports its ecosystem of other uses.
Glover: I think it does go back to proportion of that kind of space to the project or to the asset. An example would be Century City, I’ll tell you the story behind that. We created an event space with retail wrapping around that event space. And you and I have talked about this before, but the size of it is about 90 feet at its largest width by about 200 feet, pretty big space. It’s a plug and play kind of a place, so you’ve got 90 by 200 in a 1.3 million square foot shopping center that is equipped with both a food hall and an Eataly. It has a cinema. It has all of those things. It has great content, but it also comes with this event space that can change its content. 365 days a year. And that’s what Westfield did. They charged three people. They hired three people to run it. They hired a Broadway producer, a Hollywood producer, and a Cirque de Soleil producer.
I said, ‘okay guys, you got to curate this thing every day’. And in the beginning, I’m not sure where it is right now, I haven’t checked lately, but in the beginning, it was very monetizable. It was great for the people that lived around. It was constantly new content. So, I think part of what we’re looking at now, whether you’re at the Americana brand or Westfield Century City, or some place in New York that its content is fresh, new content is really important. And scaling that to the place is important. But having those things really does cause community and it causes k brand awareness and galvanizes into the customer’s minds. So, I’m not answering your question about size because I don’t think one size fits all.
Montesi: You and I have discussed scarf research before, help me understand and help our listeners understand how this influences how you think about design.
Glover: So, I discovered scarf a few years ago from one of my dear clients in Boston, Brian Cooper, who’s a special friend of mine and really an inspiration. And so, this was a study done by David Rock about 10, 12 years ago, for the purposes of how people interact in a workplace condition, but what happened was, we found that it does translate into what you and I do, which is to make great places for people to live, shop, and play. And it really gets down to the basics of human behavior and how people like to be treated, basically it’s very simple, and it comes down to simple things and it helps to deliver.
I think Terry, the scarf model, which your listeners should look into and make up their own mind, it’s a great lens to look through all your decisions of how you service people, how you create signage and graphics, because that has to do with how safe one feels in a place and how you program a place and what that means to people. I think it translates very well into the retail and mixed-use world.
Montesi: You introduced me to what I have found so real and something that we really try to pay attention to and actually design to and program to. What we’re really trying to appeal to since we’re not in the 49% task business in our trademarks in the 51% slow business, we’re really trying to appeal to people’s unconscious minds.
Daily needs, developer, resave, regency, or somebody that focuses only on grocery anchored daily needs. They’re focused on tasks. We’re focused on slow and they’re focused on the conscious mind and we’re focused on appealing to people’s unconscious mind. I appreciate you opening my eyes to that.
And then I read David Rock’s article about how we have a conscious thought, one conscious thought for every hundred thousand conscious thoughts are said. So, to me the numbers are pretty compelling. I’m a numbers guy. So, I know Gensler’s the leading office and office interiors design firm in the world I believe. And I know y’all do a lot of research and thinking around workplace and you also have a massive multifamily practice. Any research, thoughts, learnings, musings, post-COVID, or just in general about the future of the workplace and the future multifamily post-COVID?
Glover: Yeah, we have done a lot of research and we’re about ready to come out with a huge report actually, you can go to our website and see more about it, but I’ll just give you a quick overview. What we’re finding is frankly, it’s not, as you can imagine, it’s not just affecting workplace and office. It’s affecting our houses where we live, how we live our lives. Here’s what we’re finding.
We’re finding that we all want to go back. We want to return. We desperately want to return to the workplace, but with some differences. That it’s going to be, Terry, we firmly believe it’s going to be a hybrid scenario. Now we’ve done our own internal surveys with our own people, 6,000 people around the world that worked for Gensler as well as surveying others of our clients.
So, here’s what we’re finding. We’re finding 30% of people want to go back to the office. a hundred percent – 30%, a third of people willing to go back to the office a hundred percent. Another 30%, 28% would be willing to go back or do one or two days at home. About the same amount would do three to four days at home, and almost 20% want to work a hundred percent at home, and that’s wildly different than nine months ago, wildly different. I, for one thing, thought I could never live without being at the office every day. And I’m probably in the one to two days at home, honestly I am. So, we’re finding a great difference there.
What does that mean? That means that the most successful workplace strategies will empower their employees to make choices and give them the ability to make a choice. Those that are restrictive are not going to be in the winning category.
Montesi: What about any, any research or learnings or thoughts on how multifamily, the impact there and technologies and health related things that you think will stick post-COVID in a retail office and multifamily environments?
Glover: I think right now, Terry we’re heavily investigating and studying what the house of the future is going to be like, what the apartment of the future is going to be like, what the condo of the future is going to be like, and what the home structure is going to be like. And who’s making the decision at home is changing.
Mental health for people is changing heavily. As much as we’re seeing shifts in how the power of the household is moving, we also have to be really aware of what our mental health is like. And for that, we don’t really have any answers right now, but we do know that it’s a problem we really need to solve together, not from a design standpoint, but from a development standpoint. You’re going to see furniture changes. You’re going to see kitchen changes. You’re going to see the way the bedrooms are articulated, and workspaces are articulated and the kind of percentages of spaces are going to change to accommodate this new way of living, this high bred working condition is going to change quite a bit.
Which again, makes it super exciting. There’s going to be a lot of changes, a lot of disruption, and some people are going to find it really hard to deal with, but I think if we accept it, we can all better benefit from it.
Montesi:. And embrace it. And you know what one thing you just said reminds me that we really have such a responsibility. When you think about the increase in suicidal thoughts, and increase in loneliness, and increase in depression that has happened the last nine months – somebody asked me today, I was actually on a podcast, I was the interviewee. Someone asked me about where I saw things happening post-COVID with the consumer.
And I said, I think we’ll have some serious pinup demand, and the consumer will rage back, and we’ll have waits at restaurants and maybe waits at cinemas. And we’ll all be happy to wait in line with like first time in our life. We’re going to be happy to wait in line because we can be with people and we can be within six feet of people.
But I think we have such a responsibility to help give people a great place to come together but do it in a responsible way that helps them feel safe. Like the scarf research says, help them feel like they’re not endangering their lives and help them enrich their ability to connect with other humans. You know, I think our responsibility is even greater than it’s ever been, David.
Glover: I totally agree. I agree with everything you just said there and that’s definitely the way that we’re viewing projects and the way that we’re viewing how to design spaces for our clients to be successful.
But I agree a hundred percent that as soon as the vaccine is here and we’re looking like we’re getting closer which is great news, we will go back to normal. I firmly believe two things. One is, and I don’t know how this is going to materialize, but we are different people. We’re going to come out of this different, but we will always yearn to be together. Like you’re saying, we cannot wait for that day when we can go back and eat together and be together and shop and touch things and touch each other and hug each other. And just be normal human beings.
Montesi: Well, you and I, when we used to see each other, we gave each other a hug every time, you know? Now, you hug hardly anybody anymore.
Glover: I can’t even touch her elbow.
Montesi: Is there anything you’d like to ask me on the way out?
Glover: Well, I would love to really hear, Terry, because it has been a little while since we chatted and, and things change every day. I’m curious, very curious from your vantage point, because I’m a designer, you’re the developer. You’re the guy, here’s my question. If there’s one thing that seems impossible to change, but if it did change, it would change everything. If there’s one thing you could do, that seems impossible, but if it were possible would change everything.
What is it?
Montesi: Wow. you’re a smart, deep guy.
Glover: And the follow-up question to that. If it doesn’t change, if that one thing you can’t do, doesn’t change. What’s the effect?
Montesi: Well, a small, simple one comes to mind and maybe a bigger, more profound one will come to mind, but we talked about malls earlier.
I think there is some real risk that in interior malls, people just grow increasingly unwilling to support that as it relates to malls. How could we make them indoor-outdoor spaces? How could we have – maybe the roof stays on it? Because people like in Texas, they like shade. How can we fill them with fresh air?
We have a new project. We may be talking to you about soon in a major American city. We’re going to be asked to redevelop a mall site. And probably we think the mall will be less than half its size, but two department stores do well. And there’s just way too much retail space. I’m pushing, saying we really need to make that space in between. There are still some tenants that want to be there. How can we make it outdoor? And the conventional answer is it’s too expensive. It can’t work. Maybe that means the city has to step up.
You show them, ‘hey, I can keep it a smaller conventional model, but if it’s going to be at really sustainable place, it needs to be outdoors. And there’s a gap. Can you affordably take the roof off and make a mall or a really nice, charming, safe feeling outdoor environment? And if you can’t, is there a hybrid where you can make it almost as safe from a health standpoint, fresh air, but leave the roof on?’ I haven’t seen that done yet. That’s one thing.
What’s the one other thing, if it could be changed, that’s a great question. I think back to malls, because we do spend a little time on the malls, and you mentioned the unencumbering of malls as the toughest thing. What if department stores are gone? Can you actually have malls that are successful with no department stores? Just streets, but hey, this is a mall, and we take the department stores away.
There’s no longer any fashion department store. Maybe there’s a cinema in one, and there’s a Dick’s Sporting Goods in one, and there’s something out there that’s co-working, you know, creative office in one. Could it be just as good a place, maybe even better? I don’t know.
What happens if none of that happens, David? Maybe those places continue to slowly degrade and just be suboptimal. I do think that that’s where we’re going. If we don’t have courageous city fathers and planners and developers working together and small shop retailers who say, ‘you know what? Mr. Developer, you’re right. We don’t need that department store. They’re not doing anything for me. So, I’m going to uncuff you from a co-tenancy standpoint from them’. I think we’re going to have lots of suboptimal malls in this country if we don’t figure out a way between municipalities, and retailers, and developers, and equity partners, and lenders as a way to reinvent those. We’re just going to have so much important real estate on our landscape that’s going to remain suboptimal for way too long.
Glover: That’s a great answer, Terry, and something for us all to really think about is the future. You’re talking about is can you survive without anchors? What are the new anchors? I think culture is a new anchor. As an idea, I think open space is a new anchor. And I think that trying to find a means of making people feel very comfortable and note weather conditions is something that we need to do to get that fresh air going. I think that’s a great challenge for all of us actually.
Montesi: Thanks for the question. I’m glad I didn’t completely let you down. David always great to be with you. Good to see your face. Thank you so much for your time and have a great Thanksgiving holiday.
Glover: See you later. Cheers. Bye-bye.