Making an Impact at ICSC@NE

We recently attended ICSC New England to check out the latest trends shaping consumer spaces.

Founded in Chicago in 1957, ICSC has grown in the decades since its inception, with chapters popping up nationwide. New England is no exception. On July 24, members of the ICSC community came together in Everett, MA, to collaborate, network, and learn from experts in the industry. Some of our talented architects joined the fray. They had a lot to say, with one of our Architects even getting the honor of joining a panel discussion about factors influencing today's construction costs.‍  

Insights from ICSC@NE  

We recently caught up with a few of our attendees, Aksel Solberg (AIA, NCARB), Mike Cornoni (AIA, NCARB, LEED AP), and Sharon Charwick (AIA, NCARB, LEED GA) to see what they thought of the conference and what stood out to them this year. Check out some of their thoughts below!  

HFA: What was your biggest takeaway from ICSC@NE?    

Aksel Solberg, Development Design Studio Lead:  

"Coming out of the session on capital markets, one thing is very clear: retail is a strong asset class for investors and will continue to be a strong market for years. With so many other factors complicating the financial outlook on the economy, it was very encouraging to hear how strongly retail is performing from so many different people—great news for our team at HFA, who have unmatched expertise in retail!"  

Mike Cornoni, Architect:  

Developers are looking to explore programming beyond retail to help bring people into shopping centers. By incorporating multifamily housing, hotels, or offices, the number of people working and living near the retail shops will directly impact its success. Outside the seminars, we heard the same thing from multiple developers looking to expand on services they offer."  

Sharon Charwick, Team Lead / Architect:  

"I appreciated the connection between employee retention and the built environment regarding corporate spaces. This was raised regarding a discussion about lab spaces, but it applies to any work environment. Part of work-life balance is not just being remote versus being in the office; it's having an office space with a community around it. If people love where they work, they want to come into the office, and well, people like working in spaces with amenities around them."  

HFA: What was the best session that you attended at ICSC@NE?  


"While all sessions were very relevant with lots of good takeaways, I was particularly moved by some of the things that Kristine Lilly (American Women's World Cup team member and two-time Olympic gold medalist) said about the fundamentals of teamwork. Many of us strive to find the best ideology for building a powerful team. Kristine spoke about how focusing on oneself and running one's own race ensures everyone is at the top of their game. When everyone on the team ensures they are the best they can be, their team will benefit. Kristine also spoke about finding people with different perspectives and building a team filled with people who will always encourage others. Although the design and construction industry and World Cup soccer are two completely different worlds, I couldn't help but be struck by the relevance and timeliness of Kristine's words of wisdom. "  


"Although Sharon's was the best…the one I learned the most from was Mixing It Up: Retail's Effect on Mixed-Use Development—A Case Study on Arsenal Yards, which was a fascinating discussion led by the development team and the architect of the building. The focus here was on revitalizing and repurposing a building and the surrounding areas to create a hub of activity. It was great to hear about the varied programming that went into Arsenal Yards, including offices, apartments, daycare, and food, and how it is moving differently than the apparel-heavy norm. The key to creating an inviting and welcoming space for people to shop, work and live is driven by experience. Creating a diverse set of moments throughout the site and having a neighborhood feel drives the success of the final project."  


"I, too, really enjoyed the session called Mixing It Up: Retail's Effect on Mixed-Use Development—A Case Study on Arsenal Yards. We got to hear how the project was approached by both the developer and the design team. I appreciated their strategy to create a "neighborhood" environment by utilizing parking structures and pushing back on the typical large parking field prevalent in large retail developments. The developers' leasing team played a key role in the success of that strategy by communicating with the retail tenants and implementing solutions such as wayfinding and smart parking technology to assure tenants that this approach would benefit the center's environment. I also appreciated how the team focused on amenities for those living on the site, such as daycare, and kept the tenant spaces limited to around 30,000 square feet."  

HFA: Were there any insights you’d like to explore professionally?  


"A great place to start is looking at how growth-oriented business models and retail stores align with sustainable philosophies that must be adopted to meet and exceed more stringent energy codes and resource scarcity."  


“I am really interested in exploring how retail centers are expanding their amenity offerings and collocating with alternative programming to create destinations for all types of end users. I see these amenities as a piece falling under the larger umbrella of wellness which is such an important and growing topic in our society today. By digging deeper and studying other pillars of wellness, we can combine them and help develop spaces that will allow communities of people to holistically practice healthy pursuits.”


“I enjoyed hearing about new retail concepts and what services they can offer to retail centers. I'm interested to see how some of these ideas play out and which co-tenancies prove the most beneficial to activating community spaces.”

We were once again honored to have the opportunity to join our friends, clients, and industry colleagues at ICSC@NE, and we can't wait to see what's in store next year. Stay tuned!  

For questions about our work in the retail marketplace industry, contact Ed Damphousse, Client Partnerships Lead, (508) 294-4425 ext. 425 or  

Written by
Ashley Hayre

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