Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Branding Real Estate / Storytelling

Excerpted from Bruce's presentation on Branding Real Estate:
The Developer's Secret Weapon / Harvard University
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Corsair, New Haven

"Working on the Corsair project has given me an appreciation of the value of storytelling as it relates to architectural placemaking and community building. Storytelling leads to authentic branding that celebrates the history, geography, and culture of a particular place and speaks to what it can become. Branding serves to bond individuals together to form a community, and encourages them to be part of the next chapters in the story going forward.

The branding of Corsair, was in many ways` a natural extension of our architectural design process.

We take a concept oriented approach to the design process. The first step is to understand the project goals, requirements and constraints, so as to enable an informed architectural response. People’s romantic notions about their homes vary widely and tend to be culturally determined. Gaining an understanding of the target demographic and their underlying thought patterns related to home is an important step in the process.

Characteristics of the site, along with our client’s needs and dreams guide us to a concept or central idea unique to each project. Searching for the right concept is a creative challenge. We stir a number of ideas into the pot, sifting the ingredients through our architectural filters, in search of ideas that resonate.

The architectural concept is distilled to its essence, just a few words, such that it can inform the design at all scales, from massing, to materials, to details. The consistency of the concept is evident in the finished product. It imbues even small details and simple materials with meaning, thus making the mundane memorable.

The intended result is an architecture that is cohesive, innovative, and contextual, in which the smallest details embrace and reinforce the underlying project goals. We endeavor to endow our architecture with energy, meaning, emotion, and intention.

The branding process involves a similar creative exercise. At Corsair the history of the place was a natural direction to pursue. At a time when so much of the built environment is placeless and faceless, celebrating the history of a place adds authenticity and provides continuity with the past. At Corsair the integration of the architecture into the urban fabric of the street, and the referencing of the local brick industrial mill building typology helped to make the building both fit in, and stand out.

Within the community space at Corsair we developed a wide range of environments to house a variety of activities. The Corsair brand provided a common thread that tied the place together. The recycling of the historic industrial materials and artifacts from an earlier age endows Corsair with spirit, and provides authenticity to the experience of living there. The attention to brand related details, like the displaying old bottles that were found during the excavation, and the preservation of cast stone panels that adorned the prior building on the site, layer additional meaning into the placemaking, and sent out strong messages to residents, or future residents that this is a caring community, and a great place to live."

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