Shuttered retail businesses are leaving behind some great storefront real estate and recently, architecture firms have been moving in.
Why are these firms moving into streetfront spaces normally taken up by stores and restaurants? The spaces have everything architects love: high ceilings, open floor plans, big windows, and cheaper rent. Depending on the area, a ground floor storefront is significantly less per square foot than a floor in a mid to high rise office building. Besides the financial and aesthetic reasons, the street presence gives the architects space to showcase their designs, as well as build connections to the community.
Having space to display models and drawings where passersby can see them provides exposure in a way that an office tower cannot. At the same time, a direct view onto the street not only reminds the architects that the world is bigger than a 17 inch monitor but also provides inspiration.
"The visibility encourages people to come in and ask questions, so we are often interrupted. While sometimes annoying, this is also one of the key values of the storefront space. The constant reminder of the outside world helps to keep our design ideas grounded and keyed in to practical and engaged solutions. It is very helpful to be able to explain our ideas to anyone who happens to walk by."
The architecture profession has been battered by the economy and is less than adequate at marketing its services (Do you have any idea what architects really do?) Establishing a public face is an opportunity to broadcast their design services and value.