New trends in Mixed-Use Projects by Jonathan Douglas

The Hospitality industry faces new challenges with a rapidly growing market. The new demands and expectations from consumers are forcing  the Hospitality operators to differentiate themselves from their varied competitors.

To better understand how Architectural Design can help address these business challenges, we have asked Jonathan F. Douglas, AIA, Managing Principal at VOA International Architectural Design firm, for his perspective.

Mr. Douglas has more than 30 years of experience with the Hospitality, Resorts and Casinos sectors. Widely regarded as an industry expert he has also written a variety of articles for business and trade publications including Urban Land Magazine, Hospitality Design, and Casino Design.





Q: Mr. Douglas, in your opinion, what phase is the Hospitality Industry going through?


A: We see continued growth in the development of new brand hospitality at every level of the market. What this means is continued segmentation into more targeted and focused demographics as well as more and more companies deciding that hospitality is an important way to engage their customer. Let’s say you operate a museum, own a line of boutique retail store, or a string of car dealerships.

Today you will now consider a hotel, restaurant or entertainment venue as an important step in building more brand awareness and loyalty with your customers.

From a designers perspective, having the opportunity to work with what may be non-traditional hospitality owners is exciting and fun since there are many more ideas being put forward about what this experience could be. We are able to focus on our client’s business objectives and create unique solutions to engage their customers in unexpected ways. We are finding interesting combinations of mixed use destinations that increasingly are about telling stories that inform and engage the guest.






Q: What is the impact of the new Building technologies in the development of a new project?


A: Beyond the obvious benefits of better visualization, modelling, coordination, and implementation I think what is also happening is the ability to continue to exceed our client’s expectations and our team by collaborating deeply, interacting openly and honestly, and intelligently using Lean principles. We are starting to be able to collect enough data that we can know create realistic measurable goals for each project and then know whether or not we are meeting them through the use of real-time dashboard that give a snapshot of all aspects of the project.  This can be typical metrics such as quality, on-schedule, or under-target cost delivery of the project but more importantly can start to look at things like guest experience- For example:  Are we meeting our design goals by programming enough opportunity for the guests to interact with the brand? Are we supporting or exceeding the guest expectations. Can we create something even better from an experience perspective? These are the new areas where we are starting to use Building Information Technology in a much more meaningful way to our clients.


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Q: Sustainability is part of your design philosophy. How does VOA contribute to minimize the environmental impact?


A: In everything that we do, we are conscious of the contribution a high- performance building will have on reducing overall energy usage. It starts with very simple broad scale approach such as attention to overall building orientation to more complex systems such as building envelope and systems. We are able to model energy usage quite effectively at an early stage of the design process and use that as one of many tools to help guide the design process.  Internally we use a dashboard to not only monitor how well our projects perform but how well are we doing ourselves in terms of simple things like recycling.  It helps us stay more connected to our sustainability goals by checking our progress each step along the way.