London, United Kingdom
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
New York, New York
To kick off its “Big Insight” series, London-based internet radio station Monocle on Design spoke to CEO Nik Karalis on his “priorities, hopes and preoccupations” for the firm’s future. Contributor Daphne Karnezis touched on several aspects of the Global Studio with Karalis such as the changing demands of architects, the industry’s responsibility and response to urbanization and its consulting work.
Karalis noted that our firm approaches briefs differently than previous generations have in that they consider repurposing and regenerating projects’ roles. When repurposing a building, he emphasized integrating multifunctional spaces so that it avoids becoming stagnant and underutilized, and for new buildings to be flexible. According to Karalis, both of these tactics will help to achieve longevity. Forte Xi’an Dahua 1935—a former Postwar Era textile mill in China—is an active example in that it will be revitalized into a world-class entertainment and retail destination complemented by wayfinding to spur exploration.
“We should build, but build differently, and we should regenerate but with flexibility in mind,” he said in regard to starting projects in dense areas.
The conversation also touched on cities—a subject the firm and its data research consulting practice, SUPERSPACE, is intimate with. As issues such as climate change and overpopulation infiltrate the practice, its leaders respond by showing how master planning can act as one solution to alleviate their impacts. Karalis cited MORE LA, a multidisciplinary study bolstered by SUPERSPACE’s advanced data capabilities, which explored the potential repurposing of surface parking lots found across Los Angeles, as a piece of information that reinforces that rethinking urban spaces and becoming even more urbanized relieves potentially harmful effects.
“Every design element from building to a room to a workspace should be centered around the idea of how it contributes to the city,” he said.
To listen to the interview, which also touched on the role of technology in consulting, designing for Millennials, and how designers deliver products for a changing workplace environment, head over to Monocle’s site.