Will Cannady, practicing Architect and Professor of Architecture at Rice University invited both his undergraduate and graduate students for a tour of PDR’s studio. Professor Cannady’s undergraduate studio focuses on sustainable design principles, while the graduate students focus on Urban Design and Investment Building Design investigating real estate investment projects such as mid-rise, high density, mixed use, mid-town transit oriented developments.
During their visit lead by PDR’s President, Lauri Goodman Lampson, and Chairman of the Board, Drew Patton, the students engaged in a casual discussion in PDR’s main lobby on Level 39 of 2Houston Center. Images of Corporate Campuses and Interior Workplace, quickly lead to curiosity about PDR’s role on the ExxonMobil Campus and what it takes to develop a Master Plan that enhances business. Following the discussion, the students toured the studio and took pictures of buildings in Houston’s downtown skyline.
Lauri, best known for her focus on solving business problems through design, explained the importance of designing for people first. “The first thing you have to think about is ‘Why?’, said Lauri. “Why do we need it? What is its purpose? What will the occupants need their space to do? What is the value in doing it this way? And can we expand whatever that answer is? We try to get our clients to think in terms of the business value proposition of design." Lauri gave additional examples and drew an inverted triangle with the bottom third representing the real estate asset. "You think about a company’s assets. The assets are where the real estate is and they have a dollar amount associated with it. The cost of the asset compared to the potential return on investment in the asset, is what investors hone in on," said Lauri. She then drew the middle section of the triangle and said, "Then you look at the people. This is salaries, wages, benefits, etc. Well, the assets support the people. But did you know that on average, the people cost is at least 5x’s the cost of a company’s assets?" The top and largest section of the triangle represents performance. "Consider that an organization's performance, could be 25x’s the cost of the asset. If you can increase performance by 1-2%, what the asset costs is less relevant than how the asset enables business performance. This is what you want to focus on. This is what you want your developers to know,”reinforced Lauri.
Lauri continued her discussion with the students, where she led an exercise on thinking about what buildings need to provide for their people in 2025. She described a recent workshop with Hines where they discussed questions, such as what the world is doing in building for the future. What if buildings could morph? What is a viable, developer-based approach to buildings that is meaningful to people and organizations? Could the building be residential and commercial, hotel, retail, and hospitality, a community within the community? And what does that mean to investors? “Keep in mind,” Lauri said, “The building of 2025 and beyond doesn’t have to be all things to all people, but maybe it would try to be multiple things to many.”
Lauri lives at the intersection of business and design in her role as Principal + President at PDR. For more than 25 years, Lauri has worked inside businesses, helping leaders of Global Organizations align their corporate business strategies with their workplace strategies - reshaping real estate decisions into strategic business solutions.