In 2008, I graduated from Woodbury University's Master's of Real Estate Development for Architects program (MRed). This is no ordinary MRed program: it is taught solely by architects to architects. Its mantra is that architects are the best-suited people to take advantage of design and creative space-making in ways that typical developers can not or will not. Most developers are naturally risk averse and tend to develop spaces that are not innovative, big and boring, and full of the same gimmicks you see at every project up and down Southern California. Architects know that there is much more to it than that: quality of space often can make projects much more valuable than a spreadsheet will lead you to believe.
[pullquote foo="bar" author="Ted Smith, Director of MRed"] "Architect builders envision and make the projects normal developers will not touch."[/pullquote]
Enter Lloyd Russell, one of my professors while at Woodbury San Diego. His latest project, Centre Street, an apartment and studio complex for rent in San Diego, has solidly proven the mantra correct once again. Although the units are smaller than the typical apartments, and even considering that third floor tenants have to climb three flights of stairs, given the absence of an elevator, Lloyd was able to get rents 20% higher than what the comps (and I'm sure typical developers) said he should he get. Now why is that? Because Lloyd is a great salesman? Maybe he is, but the more probable answer is: Architecture and Design. That's why. People want to live in amazing spaces, full of light and character, and yet flexible enough for their use. Not surprisingly to us, they're willing to pay a premium for it. So, while most developers design by spreadsheets, formulas, focus groups, and trends, Lloyd, and others like him, innovate and pursue great quality of space.
We at 4Corners are continuing to pursue this mantra with our own projects. We are in the business of space making, not real estate development. As I've told the Fab Four, (a name I affectionately use to refer to my Woodbury Professors: Ted Smith, Jonathan Segal, Sebastian Mariscal, and Lloyd Russel) I want to be just like them when I grow up!
Please check out their successful work to see more proof that as developers, Architects always win!
(Full disclosure: As an architect-at-heart, I'm obviously a teensy bit biased...oh well.)