What makes a project bankable?

Social currency equals economic clout. I work on all kinds of projects — big and urban, small and seaside; tropical, desert, mountain and mild. The one constant? (Besides parking.) Each has a physical story at its heart; a framework of experiences — many to be shared with other people — shaped to suit the lives of its users. Creating that social outlet is not only what makes a place enjoyable and special — it’s what makes it bankable.

Success hinges on how people interact in the space. Yes, location matters. Demographics matter, as does handsome architecture, FAR and optimized adjacencies, lease rates, sales and occupancy targets. The numbers are key indicators of success, but they are not the reason behind it. The reason is much simpler than the figures and formulas, but it adds up just as fast: it’s how people interact in the space.

Keep it real.

The best developments give people instinctive ways to connect – just like their digital counterparts. Great places are real-world social media — brick and mortar magnets for everyday lives: 10 AM coffee meetings, post-soccer pizzas parties, awkward teenage circling sessions, special-occasion shopping, and all variety of dates, drop-ins, meetups and hangouts. How many Instagram photos have the project as background? How many memories is it tucked away in? These are the measures that matter.


Making it social makes
the difference.


If you stop at solving the puzzle and creating a striking façade, then you’ve left a lot of value on the table. Sure we can stand back and admire the handsome architecture – and we should. A good project absolutely communicates on that level. But it’s not just about smart adjacencies and a cool silhouette. You’ve got to give the thing a DNA. What I consider is how people interact with the space and each other. What will invite them to stay longer? What is the sequence of experiences through a property and how does one relate to the next? Where are the happy accidents and forced collisions? That process defines architectural storytelling and the results should look like this:

  • The place is hopping – people are enjoying the space, enjoying
    each other.
  • The community has embraced it.
  • It communicates who the owner is, and what they’re about.
  • It’s not over designed – which means it will endure.
  • The branding is implied, not applied.
  • It’s co-created, showing the influence of its many uses,
    stakeholders and the diversity of people who inhabit the spaces.