Category Archives: Retail Design

HFA named among ‘Best Firms to Work For’ for second year in a row

HFA engineers

HFA was named among the “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group for the second year in a row.

BENTONVILLE (June 28, 2016) HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is named once again to the list of “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group.

This is the second year in a row HFA has been named to the list. Last year, HFA was ranked 52 nationwide in the Multidiscipline category. This year, HFA moved up 10 spots to 42 in the same category.

The award recognizes top architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, environmental and multidiscipline firms in the United States and Canada based on workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates and more, according to the Zweig Group website. The criteria also include a satisfaction survey from employees.

“We are very proud to be recognized again as one of the Best Firms to Work For,” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO of HFA. “It’s a true reflection of the quality of employees that we have, who all contribute to providing us with a very welcoming work environment.”

The award will be conferred this year at the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference on Sept. 23 in Phoenix.

The award comes within weeks of HFA being honored with a 2016 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success. HFA was one of only three firms – and by far the largest – in Arkansas to be recognized with this prestigious award. The When Work Works Award is part of a national project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The When Work Works Award recognizes employers of all sizes and types in Arkansas and across the country.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French Architecture in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary design firm with more than 200 employees and additional offices in Boston, MA, and Fort Worth, TX. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Mexico. Please visit us at http://www.hfa-ae.com for more information, and follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @HFA_AE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/HFAAEHome/.

Contact: Melissa L.  Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273−7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa−ae.com.

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Upcycling: DIY trends finding home in shopping center design

Looking for innovative ideas to dress up a retail storefront or breathe new life into your existing retail portfolio? Upcycling is one unique way to help your retail property stay relevant and attract the next generation of shoppers. Below, Senior Associate Jenna Stacer-Miccile of HFA|Allevato discusses this new design trend that is gaining a foothold in the retail sector.

Upcycling is a design trend commonly being used in the residential DIY sector and has recently begun to influence retail and food service industries.  Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item,” upcycling is a cost-effective way in which developers can re-up their portfolios. Savvy designers, operators, and developers have started to successfully utilize this tool to revitalize existing centers and create inviting and re-energized spaces that enhance the shoppers’ experience.

Rejuvenate and find new life for your existing shopping center.

While I admit that we all get excited at the idea of a new ground-up shopping center and the blank slate of possibilities it brings, I find that I get almost as excited when visiting an older shopping center that needs some updating.  A friend and client of ours sarcastically refers to such an approach as ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’  While not the most gracious of phrases, sometimes that is exactly what a center needs to make it relevant and attractive to shoppers again. (Of course, there may be cases where the bulldozer is the best option, but those are few and far between.)  There are clients out there looking at options to improve upon their existing property portfolio’s performance.  Some properties may require elaborate structural updates and construction hurdles to breathe new life into these existing centers, while others may need a little less effort and more finesse – a simple but innovative solution.

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Liven up existing facades with unique materials.

Whether it’s a new retail and mixed-use development or renovating an existing center, designers, operators, and developers are beginning to understand the importance of a dynamic shopping experience.  On some recent projects we have looked at how to do this without breaking the bank. We investigated innovative solutions like finding new uses for reclaimed barn boards, wood pallets, and scrap metal as façade materials.

Plantings are another way to enliven an existing location. One inventive use for plants is to dress the roofline/parapet space with a line of greenery; this brings a fresh, natural element to the building architectural form. Alternatively, vertical green screens can be added to break up a large wall. Large CMU walls may benefit from a coat of paint and a large graphic mural or a stamped logo. That pesky hollow metal door set in a large brick wall could use a bright pop of blue paint instead of trying to monochromatically paint it out to disappear entirely. The possibilities for enlivening an existing façade are limited only by the designer’s imagination.photo 2

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Never underestimate the power of a carefully staged sidewalk.

Current trends at Terrain by Anthropologie and West Elm stores are a great place to look for inspiration when it comes to developing the sidewalk design. A sidewalk should no longer be a 15’ wide swath of concrete. Adding pavers and in-ground planters is a start, but that will not be enough to make your shoppers feel at home and want to hang around and shop.  Now, add some hanging plants, Adirondack chairs, garden sculptures, tree stump bench seating and other items you might think to use in your own garden to liven up the experience. Bringing in unique pieces and using diverse materials is a great way to bring warmth and life to a sidewalk.

One example of such an approach would be to wrap an existing CMU sidewalk planter in reclaimed wood and add a sculpture found at an antique shop in among the plantings – a simple touch, but a beautiful way to add texture, interest, and ambiance.  We also love to introduce pergola elements along the sidewalk just to create a moment to pause and enjoy the environment, and work up the energy to continue on shopping.

We are seeing and using some of these principles in some current shopping center rehab projects, tenant façade designs, and new ground-up retail construction projects.  The possibilities are limitless to a creative mind with a vision to see the potential a retail center has to become a great place to be.

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Stay tuned for future posts discussing the benefits of upcycling as a design tool in the restaurant and food & beverage design sectors.

Refrigeration-veggies up close

Control System Strategies Save Money by Miguel L. Purdy, P.E.

How much do you spend each month or year to keep your perishables fresh?   From meats to dairy and frozen foods, to fresh produce and floral, it has been estimated to that between 30% and 50% of the electricity used in food retail is consumed by the refrigeration system.  Ambient conditions that differ from the original design and equipment selection conditions adversely affect the energy used in refrigeration.  Then, other inefficiencies creep in over time, such as dirty coils, burned up fan motors, etc., all the while driving up energy costs.  Systems that were put in as the state of the art systems a few years ago must be refined, tweaked, managed, updated and replaced on a regular basis because of newer, more efficient control schemes that were not available at the time of installation.

Reset First

What is the first step to improving your refrigeration system efficiency?  Well, it is not upgrading or replacing the control system.  The first step is system recommissioning.  Over time, with service calls and owners keeping the system in operation, your systems drift away from the original specifications and set points.  Recommissioning resets all of this and gives you some level ground to work from when looking at the controls system.

Establish Control Strategies

The next step is where monitor and control systems including energy management system come into play.  There are many new technologies that help automate refrigeration control, monitoring and maintenance scheduling.

Floating Suction Pressure Control

Adjusting and maintaining suction pressures allows the system pressure to float above established set points and maintain case or walk-in temperatures.  This is called Floating Suction Pressure Control (FSPC).  For each 1 PSI increase in suction pressure, it is possible to save 2% in compressor power.  The control systems read the systems temperatures and pressures then adjust the set points to ensure that the refrigerant leaving the coils reach the superheat design parameters.

Floating Head Pressure Control

An additional control strategy is reducing the compressor discharge pressure or head pressure.  This strategy is known as Floating Head Pressure Control (FHPC).  By allowing the control system to reduce the head pressure, the system could save as much as 0.5% per PSI reduction.  At least one study found 14% savings of combined compressor and condenser energy consumption for floating head pressure controls with variable frequency drives.

Load Shredding

Control systems do a great job of making the system operate more efficiently, but it can also perform other cost saving measures for your store.  This is where load shedding comes into play.  Suppose there are some functions that are not required to operate during a peak load time of day, such as anti-sweat door heaters, these loads can be turned off for that period of time.  That will not only save some energy, but more importantly, it will reduce the electrical consumption at higher rate times.  Control systems also can coordinate different aspects of the refrigeration system so some large loads do not operate at the same time, if possible, thus reducing the increased demand charges.

Unified Systems

Selecting the right energy management and control system can also unify other systems besides refrigeration, such as lighting and HVAC.  A unified energy management and control system allows the building HVAC management system and the refrigeration control system to work together to keep the systems from fighting over the temperature and humidity conditions in the space.  It can control the lighting within the store to conserve energy when spaces are unoccupied and when the store is closed, or there is less traffic.

Approach to Control System Upgrades

The key to a successful upgrade of any refrigeration system comes from a thorough, front-end engineered approach.  The methodology for the upgrade can be in the form of 1) a phased migration, 2) complete system replacement, or 3) a system upgrade. An important point to remember is that any new user interface must communicate with any existing controllers on a continuous basis.

A phased migration is often the best approach to large scale systems such as large grocery stores.  This approach eliminates risk of system failures or inoperable systems for any period of time, while providing a fallback position with the existing control system, should a failure occur.  While phased migration does have its drawbacks in terms of cost and time, the offsetting benefits include reduced risk and less downtime.

The approach of control system upgrades or complete replacement offers benefits which include: 1) increased asset protection, 2) increased reliability, 3) improved efficiency, 4) faster information access, 5) better interface functionality, 6) improved component communication, 7) reduced service and implementation costs, and 8) lower component costs over legacy systems.

Significant savings are possible

Some controls manufacturers have stated that controls systems can save at least 15% on the electric bill due to better capacity control, set point shifting, scheduling, load shedding and enterprise wide energy management.  The payback for such systems can be 1½ years through energy savings alone, not to mention the reduction in unplanned maintenance calls.

Could your facility use an extra $35,000[1] added to the bottom line each year?

One study found in one of the largest supermarket chains, a survey of 50 stores showed the majority had control systems but that the control strategies were not implemented correctly.   These misgivings provide an opportunity for savings of up to 335,000 kWh annually per site. This opportunity to save money was hidden because the building operators believed they already had the full benefits of controls.[2]

Control systems have come a long way over the last few years.  Is your system doing all that it can for you?  Are you missing out on significant operational savings due to your current control system, or maybe just from the control scheme?  A small investment could allow you to reap large paybacks to the bottom line.

The first step to improve your operational costs is to contract with a commissioning agent or firm to conduct a systems commissioning, then work with an experienced controls engineer to develop the controls system strategy that is configured to best serve your system needs.

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Miguel Purdy, P.E. is a licensed mechanical Engineer who has over 25 years of refrigeration system engineering design expertise.  Miguel serves as the Program Manager for Refrigeration at HFA can be reached at Miguel.Purdy@HFA-AE.com or 479-273-7780.


 

1 Based on 335,000 kWh x $0.1045/kWh = $35,007.  National average electricity cost = $0.1045/kWh

[2] Supermarket Controls and Commissioning: Uncovering Hidden Opportunities, Diane Levin and Lawrence Paulsen, Portland Energy Conservation, Inc., 2006 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

HFA Ranked Top 5 by Architectural Record

Arch Record List

Architectural Record has ranked HFA the 5th top design firm in the nation for the Retail Market.

As a full service architecture and engineering firm, HFA continues to be a leader in Retail Store design across the United States.

 

Designing for the Customer Experience

We were interviewed about the impact of design on retail. Here’s what we had to say:

Q: Retail brands work tireless hours defining their image, how do you encompass their image into the space you’re creating?

A: For us it’s about a deep connection with the client. We first try to understand their business philosophy. We want to know why they’re in business. Then we immerse ourselves into their brand, so we can become the customer. The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user — their customer.

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Q: Creative Solutions, Meaningful Place.. What does that mean? And why did you choose it as your mission?

“The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user”

A: It means we aren’t just in business to design buildings. We want to create spaces that touch your heart and to experience the space in a meaningful way. We chose it because that’s how we want our team members to design and feel.

Q: Retail brands these days like to roll-out full remodels, how do you manage those projects?

A: The key is understanding the client and their customers. Once we fully understand their program, we use the techniques learned in our 25 years of retail to efficiently design every store, whether it’s 5 stores or 500.

View HFA website

Here’s the original article as published in Commercial Construction & Renovation Magazine:

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