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New Commercial Buildings: Why We Love Commercial Design And How We Approach It

Designing new commercial buildings gives us an opportunity to stretch all our architectural muscles. 

Good commercial building design combines our knowledge of building science, use of public space, aesthetics know-how, budget wrangling, and a multitude of other skills. Combined, they help us create a beautiful, functional, efficient structure that positively shapes your community.

We love the complexity and challenge of new commercial building projects. A big reason they’re a big challenge is that they involve a whole team of consultants, giving us a chance to exercise a high level of project management skills, leadership, and coordination.

An architect oversees each commercial project, from start to finish, and is tasked with keeping the entire, complicated thing on track. Having a good one in your corner is essential. With a firm like ours at the helm, bumps in the road become smoother; we know how to manage expectations, how to advocate for our clients, what information you need to make decisions, and how to make things happen on a reasonable timeline. 

Alright, then. But how do we do it? Here’s what we consider when we design new commercial buildings, from the initial site walk to the ribbon cutting.

Site Assessment, Scale & Orientation

We start by assessing the site for your new building, working with contractors, site evaluators, and other professionals to determine the best place to build on the land. Once we know where to place the building, we work with you to determine the use and scale of the building.

When we start to develop a design, the first thing we decide is how to orient the structure. We base orientation on factors such as sunlight and shade, surrounding structures, roadways, and purpose. 

How will the public approach the building? Where will parking be located and how will visitors or customers find the right entrance? Which ways will windows face? The answers to these questions, and many, many more, help us determine the way the building will be designed.


Commercial buildings have many uses. A boutique small business shopping center might house various shops, restaurants, and gathering spaces. A performance center could have an auditorium, a black box theater, rehearsal spaces, offices, and a grand foyer. An office building will likely have a reception area, conference rooms, private offices, and collective work spaces. 

To pull so many programmatic uses together, we choose materials carefully, using common elements to create a sense of cohesion. Visual balance and composed views are key to sculpting people’s positive experiences with the structure. 

On our exterior designs, we use high-quality, long-lasting materials and commercial-grade products for glazing, roofing, siding, and more. Top-quality materials help you cut back on maintenance costs over the life of the structure and makes the public’s experience with the building more profound.

For interiors, we tie together the various spaces with a similar color palette, surfaces and wall coverings that signal the use of the space, and fabrics chosen for their use and aesthetics. One way we do this is by creating vignettes, focal points such as a lighted accent wall, a seating area, or a well-placed reception desk. 

Wayfinding, Security & Accessibility

We make buildings simple and intuitive to navigate through clear wayfinding, an architectural term referring to the ways to help ensure, through design, that people know where they are and how to get to the places they want to be. We use visual cues to orient users of the space through our use of materials, entrance locations, graphic representations, signage, and flow.

Orienting people is more than creating a clear path to the front desk, though. It’s also a necessity for security and accessibility. Welcoming the public to a building is important. Equally so is the necessity of keeping the public away from certain spaces. Through good wayfinding, our designs signal visitors to wait in certain spaces, seek information in the right spots, and avoid private spaces, such as exam rooms. 

Wayfinding can also create safe spaces for people with disabilities. Beyond creating designs that are up to code, we think through the probable experiences of people who use mobility devices, for instance, and create spaces that will be simpler and more intuitive to navigate.

Budget & Scope

Throughout the process, we track your budget, and help you make sound financial decisions. We know how to create space in the budget by using high-grade materials strategically. We often advise clients, for instance, to invest more heavily in public spaces, since those are the spaces that welcome and set the tone for the entire building.

We also think it’s wise to invest in one bold move versus trying to make every move bold. It’s a great way to save money while still making a great design statement.