ILQ Quarterly Andy Cohen Gensler
of products and services for this age group will rise from 8%
of the total today to around 33% by 2050.3
David Harvey, a geographer and City University of New York
professor, has noted that as globalization expands, local differences—especially those centered on place—become more
pronounced. 4 The spread of global commerce and communication has only deepened this tendency: location matters.
Mixed use lends itself to this by providing greater opportunities to address and incorporate elements that help root new
development and redevelopment to the place and community that surround it. These elements take in building form
and style, use and activity, and ways of living and being.
Local differences can be expressed by emulating traditional forms and styles, for example, but are more likely to reflect
a weaving together of global and local elements. Although
this sometimes produces eclectic approaches, it more often
results in variations on themes that are broadly appropriate
given such local factors as climate, topography, economy,
and social patterns. Regional differences are often the sum
of these factors.
The need to differentiate means that retail centers are
moving from a “house-of-brands” to a “branded-house” approach—each center’s identity as a place is more important
than the brands it offers. This plays to curating, another differentiation trend: retail centers not only manage the tenant
mix more aggressively but also program numerous events
to attract the most desirable shoppers and keep them coming back.
Real places are immersed in a parallel universe made possible
by people’s near-constant connectivity. How people move
through a place and interact with it is more and more informed by information received “outside” of it. There is also
an expectation of self-direction—that individuals can shape
their own experiences.
Not long ago, technology was thought of as decor or sign-age that lent visual interest or signaled “cutting edge.” Today,
people bring technology with them. The relationship between
people and places that technology mediates is self-initiated
and directed. On a macro scale, technology lessens the need
to be in the know to navigate a place. Armed with smartphones, people can journey without maps, gather tips about
what to see and do, access destinations, and transact business
on the fly. These devices function as passports, aides-de-camp,
and portals to others. On a micro scale, they eliminate or shift
whole categories of space and employment.
Technology disrupts mixed use by diversifying its potential tenant mix. Developers respond with greater flexibility, finer-grained settings and options, and less-predictable,
more-fluid mixes of uses and activities. Churn becomes an
Although shoppers seek authenticity and community, they
often make their purchases online. This means small-format
stores are becoming more popular, trading displays and storage for interaction spaces. The shift makes it possible to fit
more retail into urban infill sites. Pop-up stores, along with
food trucks and carts, use technology to attract customers to
their short-lived locations. Their ephemeral, just-in-time nature lets retail centers enrich their mix, making it of-the-mo-ment. It also gives retailers the ability to experiment—testing
new offerings and locations.
For their part, retail centers focus on footfall intelligence, using interactivity to map shoppers’ movements. The aggregated
data reveal patterns that inform business planning and help
show trends. Footfall intelligence also augments retailers’ data-driven marketing and demand-driven retail execution frameworks, giving retail tenants another reason to work closely
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