Shea Links: September

At Shea, we pride ourselves on staying on top of what’s happening in design news. It helps us keep tabs on what’s fresh, inspiring, and happening in the world—and we make a few headlines of our own, too. Here are some recent articles delving into design, experience, and what’s buzzing in our community:

“Pivot Spaces: A Central Feature in the Post-COVID Workplace” – Work Design:
This piece takes a look at how companies are examining what they really need in spaces post-lockdown—and pivot spaces, or multi-functional office areas, are key. Though these aren’t new, pivot spaces provide easy social distancing while making the office somewhere people want to be, as they promote health and safety and create a sense of community. The article dives into different configurations for these spaces, the importance of furniture, how they can reflect a company’s brand and ethos, how they can also support client interactions, and more.

“Shea Clients Pivot Fine-Dining Spaces for a Post-COVID Era” – Shea:
A Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal piece highlighting Minneapolis restaurants Vivir (in the former Popol Vuh space) and Bardo’s shifts away from fine dining.

“J. Alexander’s Holdings CEO on Rapid Pandemic Recovery” – Nation’s Restaurant News:
As restaurants begin to reopen post-COVID, Shea client J. Alexander’s is flourishing–and CEO Mark A. Parkey credits it to loyal diners and off-premise sales. Declaring that the worst is over, the brand points to a major uptick in September sales from the height of the pandemic, nearly as good as 2019 sales the same first weeks of the month. All 46 J. Alexander’s Holdings locations (including a few brand banners) are open in some capacity for dining, and a core group of loyal guests has been vital to the brands’ successes.

“Six Best Practices for Adding a Walk-Up Window” – Restaurant Development + Design:
Restaurant Development + Design lays out best practices for retrofitting restaurants to include a walk-up window, a great solution in particular for high-foot-traffic restaurants. These include thinking beyond the window by adding sensors for staffing and a waiting area, giving priority to the window placement, considering pickup shelves, retrofitting a door, paying attention to signage (for both branding and wayfinding), and more.

“7 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed How We Shop for Food” – New York Times:
A story on how grocery-store shopping has shifted during COVID, delving into not only trends in what people are buying but also how—with a section dedicated to redrawing the store with wider aisles, new sanitation methods, and less-crowded stores overall. Payment apps and self-checkouts have grown, and people are looking for more choice in how they shop. Freezer sections may expand as people continue to cook more at home, and branded local sections will emphasize the movement to support food that’s raised or produced locally.

“Fixture Trends: Bringing the Outside In” – VMSD:
As shoppers continue to crave the feeling of nature and the outdoors, retail fixtures are following in suit—the latest trends draw inspiration from biophilic designs and organic shapes. This VMSD piece looks at worldwide retail trendsetters and how they’re incorporating softer shapes and nature-inspired elements to create a warm, comforting experience.

“Are Offices Dead? Not Yet, But Real Estate Power Brokers Are Betting On a New Strategy” – Fast Company:
Fast Company talks to executives at Cushman & Wakefield and JLL about how the key to selling office space post-pandemic is smart design and build. Companies are looking for help to figure out the future of offices, and design strategy is imperative to helping them function when workers return after the pandemic. There will be an uptick in designers working with strategy consultants and brokers in tandem to create spaces that function the best, as well as adapting current offices to be more post-COVID friendly. Commercial real-estate brokers are optimistic about the industry’s future, with design and workplace strategy and build-out offering new opportunities as companies work to reconfigure the square footage that they have.

“Understanding the Restaurant Guest Six Months into COVID-19” – QSR:
In the wake of COVID-19, restaurant operators face two huge questions: How have guest expectations changed, and what does a great restaurant experience look like in pandemic times? Surveys show that people will sacrifice some experiential aspects to get inside the restaurant, but safety is the primary concern, with the rest of the experience coming in second (value, variety, community, and convenience are driving factors here). This piece looks at a Toast survey that reveals people are looking to other people to be pioneers in going out to restaurants, looking to friends, family, and online reviews to gauge safety and experience quality. And once restaurants get guests in, they need to be getting all aspects of food, safety, and hospitality right at every turn—these survey results also show what concerns customers most and how to keep them engaged.

“Key to Preventing Covid-19 Indoors: Ventilation” – Wall Street Journal:
This Wall Street Journal story looks at how schools and businesses can upgrade their air systems and windows to ensure clean air throughout indoor spaces—which may be the best way to prevent the spread of Covid indoors. The ideal is for air to be replaced four to six times per hour by opening windows and doors, installing window fans, using portable air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPAfilters and upgrading heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems to meet certain standards. This piece includes diagrams for air replacement as well as visuals showing how respiratory droplets move, all contributing to the conclusion that filtered HVAC systems are a huge help.

“Transforming Aging Buildings Into Modern Workplaces” – Work Design:
Adaptive reuse is more popular now than ever for office spaces, and it gives workplaces the opportunity to push the envelope in terms of design and transformation. This piece looks at how renovating (versus building) can create more resiliency for an organization, allowing them to pivot more easily, and is more cost-effective, energy-efficient, and time-efficient. Adaptive reuse can dramatically bring down construction costs per square foot (and bring tax credits), but considerations like historic structures and condition must be taken into account. But the billions of square feet of existing office space in the country offer ample opportunity for commercial real estate to reposition and renovate.

“Shea Digs Into Space Flexibility for Restaurants” – Shea:
A Business Journal piece looking at the importance of flexibility right now for restaurant spaces, featuring an interview with Shea Principal Tanya Spaulding and a focus on our recently opened Grocer’s Table project in Wayzata.

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