At McCoy Rockford we’re always interested in seeing how design is evolving, especially in our own City of Houston. To help dive into some of the questions surrounding design in Houston, what the current trends are, and where future trends are going, we hosted a round panel discussion with principals from some of the best architecture and design firms in Houston.
In this video from our Houston AIA Power Hour, some of the most prominent experts from Houston’s design scene weigh in on the question:
Are commercial interiors in Houston still conservative designs?
“I don’t think we’re a space city anymore,” said Brian Malarkey, Interior Architecture Team Leader at Kirksey Architecture. “One of the big takeaways that we found is that we’re a city of contrasts. So I would say the answer to that question is both. It’s both very conservative and very cutting edge.”
That sentiment seemed to be the prevailing opinion.
Stephanie Burritt, Managing Director and Principal at Gensler, expanded on that thought.
“A lot of our clients are energy based clients, and I think it just comes with a perception that they are conservative,” Burritt said. “But if you stand back and you kind of squint at them, the people that work there are probably some of the most innovative people on the face of the earth.”
“I think that the market in Houston is asking us to respond to those innovative thinkers.” She concluded
Marrissa Yu, Prinicpal Director of Interior Architecture at PAGE, felt that it the label of conservative was unfair to apply to Houston.
“If there’s one thing that’s interesting about our city, it’s that it’s very diverse.” Yu stated. She went on to tout the diversity that can be found in almost every facet of Houston.
“Whether it comes for race, culture, age and industry. Like [Malarkey] said, we’re not the space city anymore. We’re a magnet now for technology as well as the medical industry and oil and gas… it’s not fair to say that the kinds of designs that are out there are conservative. Because we do have a bit of both.
“I think Houston…has an unbelievable portfolio and commitment to what I would describe as campuses.” Kathrin Brunner, Senior VP of HOK, chimed in. “There are fairly large organizations that have made tremendous investments into their workplace…They have emphasized their ‘less traditional’ approach in their approach to campus and amenities.”
“A lot of our energy clients are still tied… to their mentality of working alone” Brunner admitted, “But that shift is occurring to more team orientation. Yes they might still have their enclosed office, but it’s smaller, and they are starting to connect more with team areas.”
“I think we have also… an office environment where there are three or four generations at the same time,” added Filo Castore, Principal for the DLR Group. “The decision makers used to be probably the people with more experience in that office. But I think we see a trend, nationwide and locally, where it’s more democratic in a sense of ‘What’s the final answer?’…So the end product is a blend of that contrast Brian [Malarkey] mentioned.”
Marc Bellamy, Associate Principal, Design and Architecture at PDR agreed and commented briefly that, “One reason they get pinned with being so traditional is that, that older generation has had to hold on for so long, there’s a gap. And now there’s this younger generation that is now creating a pretty radical change.”
Ledet, Principal and Director of Interiors at FKP Architects wrapped up the thoughts on this question by saying: “Houston is a "Mecca" for healthcare… we’re seeing a lot of trends leading towards more the research side here in Houston. While they are still very conservative where they spend their money for aesthetic and design purposes, they are investing in different way on how spaces function, and how to reorganize their organization so they can function… more efficiently.”