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A lifestyle center architect’s view of the world


International architects, developers and municipalities have been pushing the commercial real estate envelope for generations, and International design ideals are increasingly taking root in the U.S. From unique communal environments that encourage social engagement to innovative entertainment concepts and extreme sports, domestic developers are slowly but surely integrating formerly international elements into centers. In many ways, this is driven by consumer demand for an experience — coupled with increasingly dense markets that require more creative thinking.

Baltimore-based DDG is an internationally renowned architecture, planning, and graphics firm that delivers innovative and award-winning design solutions to commercial developments in cities, towns and suburbs around the world. Here are some highlights from the firm’s portfolio, which covers more than 50 different countries.

Menlyn Shopping Center, Menlyn, Pretoria, South Africa

A drive-in movie theater outside the parking garage (pictured here) was added to this center to bring a new form of entertainment to the region. Menlyn Park is a 1.2 million-sq.-ft. mixed-use shopping and entertainment district that has been renovated several times by DDG over the last 15 years. A multi-purpose arena inspired by Roman amphitheaters that provides a venue for activities including concerts, family-oriented attractions, Barnyard Theatre and sporting events.

Akasya, Istanbul, Turkey

At Akasya, DDG transformed an old Ford factory site into a dramatic mixed-use destination that embodies the vital energy and compelling complexities of an evolving Istanbul cityscape. The KidZania space is accessed through a full-scale Turkish Airlines jet. A park meanders through the retail area of the 4.3 million-sq.-ft. lifestyle center and reaches into residential areas — reinforcing Akasya’s commitment to environmental progressivism.

Evkur Bahçelievler, Istanbul, Turkey

DDG was charged with renovating this site through “placemaking,” focusing on the concept of public space above retail. The design is supported by communal spaces that create a sense of place and serve as a social infrastructure to the surrounding region, as well as those who live and work at Evkur Bahçelievler. This was accomplished through “The Courtyard” open-air lifestyle zone, “The Promenade” highline park, “The Park” gardens and activity zones, and “The Gardens” on the roof and in the mall’s large interior atrium spaces.

Expo-Xplore, Durban, South Africa

Expo-Xplore is a branded two-level, interactive sports and entertainment facility that serves as an anchor for the Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Durban. Every part of Expo-Xplore was designed around movement, vitality, and high-energy interactions between person and place. A Tony Hawk-designed skate park adjoins the building, where other facilities include a basketball court, a competition-class standing wave for surfing, and a 4x4 track. A central rotunda towers over the keystone feature – the world’s largest freestanding indoor climbing rock at 29 meters. Expo visitors explore Planet Blue, a waterboard sport-based merchandise rotunda, and also take advantage of an IMAX theater, cultural offerings and live performances.

Istinye Park, Istanbul, Turkey

Istinye Park is an innovative retail, dining, and entertainment center situated above a natural topographical “amphitheater” of master-planned mid-rise residential neighborhoods. It consists of four conceptually and architecturally distinct elements: the Grand Rotunda, a central entertainment space; the Lifestyle Center, an open-air town-square component; the Fashion Zone, a glass-roofed indoor retail area, and the Grand Bazaar, a traditional Turkish market and food zone. The centerpiece of the 936,000-sq.-ft. center Istinye Park is the Grand Rotunda. This dramatic structure is a four-level arena-like space beneath a scalloped shell-roof structure. Supported by a central exterior mast and suspension cables, the rotunda’s 328-ft.-diameter hard-shell “canopy” encloses the entertainment-oriented portion of the mixed-use residential and retail project.

Bryce Turner is Chairman of DDG BCT Architects, a global provider of design, planning, architectural services to commercial developments. Bryce can be contacted at [email protected].

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