How ground plane strategy can impact new development
Creating a sense of arrival long before the front door
The article represents subjective opinions of Hines Interests Limited Partnership (“Hines”)1, the sponsor of investment vehicles offered by Hines Securities, Inc. (“Hines Securities”). Other market participants may reasonably have differing opinions.
The stakes are often high when developing dynamic mixed-use projects, large downtown office towers and modern sports venues. In fact, impressions can be born in the first 40 feet of experience—where the building meets the ground. Hines believes the challenge facing owners and managers is how to develop that first impression, creating experiences that capitalize on the physical attributes of a location while also cultivating positive interactions with the surrounding community. Hines strives for a result that promotes a sense of place steeped in comfort and hospitality.
Walk this way
Think of a busy street and a few dozen pedestrians. Each person—an office worker, a resident, a shopper, or someone taking a stroll around the neighborhood—has expectations about the surrounding built environment. Every structure they encounter is part of a broader social ecosystem that contributes to human immersion, wellness, and fulfilment.
Architectural solutions alone—which provide form, function, and visual interest above ground level—don’t always impact how a person feels when moving in front of, around and through a building. Hines views the ground plane experience as highlighting the need to balance natural attributes with curated design that encourages human activation and immersion.
With an in-ground plane strategy, details are essential—things like landscaping, public art installations, outdoor space activations, open space, vehicular movement, lighting and signage, door placements and more—all impact the immediate human experience. That’s why Hines believes it’s so important to have a strategic, well-thought-out approach to the ground plane design long before a shovel hits the ground.
40′ of opportunity
Ground plane strategy is complex because multiple factors are difficult to control. In addition to the first 40 feet, the planners must give focused attention to the entire arrival experience. But how far does that influence extend? Hines believes integrating public access points like alleyways and crosswalks into the overall ground plane approach can help to give pedestrians a consistently themed and pleasant journey—and boost the property’s desirability.
But how do you influence spaces located within the public domain? Hines taps local infrastructure networks to improve the user experience above and below ground by encouraging movement in and around its developments. By partnering with municipalities, the intent is to ensure the right infrastructure is in place to act as a critical gateway to the development.
Experiential leaders in Hines’ Conceptual Construction Group seek to exploit the potential of space between buildings. In one project, the planners were inspired to develop themed passages, moving from the parking garage to a central lawn to more than 2.5 million square feet of mixed-use buildings. The urban, pedestrian-focused experience now features seven distinctly designed paseos (alleyways) that lead to active restaurant patios, varied storefronts, gathering areas programmed with events, and landscapes and hardscapes that contribute to the street-level energy.
Connection and authenticity
The functionality of spaces continues to blur, and large cities and the developments within them are scrambling to find a competitive advantage. Hines sees the answer as an innovative and consistent ground plane strategy that brings a distinct, customer-centric and authentic brand experience to the property and the surrounding areas. This powerful planning tool can deliver spaces where people want to be, with human interaction and community connection coming along for the ride.