This white paper details the process Collective Office employs during the design and execution of retail projects. Honor St. Joseph, Ivy Hall, and Zenleaf are used as illustrative references throughout.

Ivy Hall Final 1
Honor Final 1

Life unfolds effortlessly when people are at the center of the process.

01    Project Discovery

Great projects start with great listening, before designing anything we start with taking the time to understand the client, the brand, and who this project is going to be serving. Like people, each brand has its own personality and its own character. That brand identity becomes our north-star as we develop a retail project. In addition to brand identity we gather detailed information about the operations of each business. All of this data is collected and a set of design criteria and goals are developed for the project. Only after we have a thorough understanding of the unique operation and identity of our client can we begin to design.

02    Research & Programming

Research and programming is all about establishing the customer experience that the project requires. Market research, precedent images, and inspiration derived from the brand’s personality establish the mood of the space. How a customer flows through a space and the sequence of their experience is considered and mapped out. Essential operational adjacencies are also established; key to getting a space that delivers on form and function. This phase is less about the physical shape of the space but more about how the space behaves and feels. We believe in the power of partnership and the client is one of our key collaborators. The client brings their own precedents and inspiration to the table throughout this process. We don’t want to impose an agenda on the client, we want the space to be a reflection of their unique perspective and brand identity.

Create a range of interactive platforms to tailor every client engagement for the product or service. Achieve a client of one.

Proposed Honor Credit Union brand objectives

Honor Diagram
Honor Logo
LVNRM Billboard
LVNRM Mockup

03    Schematic Design

In schematic design, the broad strokes of the building are laid out and the building itself starts to take shape. The massing of a building, the way people flow through the space, and general layout are all fleshed out. Clients are asked to provide us with a precedent deck to inform our process based on the unique interests of the project. Clients are also encouraged to markup the documents we send to maintain a constant loop of feedback. Loose design options are generated and cross checked with the criteria we developed with the client’s needs. At this stage, critical thinking at a high level allows us to produce many iterations for the client to choose from. From this exploration, a general spatial concept or diagram of the project is created.

Not only did they welcome involvement, but they encouraged it. I think they knew it meant our shared success.”

Client Feedback

Honor Diagram 2
LVNRM Schematic diagram 1
LVNRM Schematic Diagram 2

Elevating the experience of everyday.

04    Design Development

As the general layout of the space becomes solidified, we start to bring the rest of the project into clearer view. The materials, product specifications, and specific elements of the design come to the forefront and these elements are dialed in. We use digital 3D modeling as a tool to allow clients to better understand the proposed spaces and give us an environment to better test ideas throughout the process. Practicalities of the design are also considered in finer detail. Where will products be showcased? How does a customer move through the space? Will the back of house be able to support the everyday tasks? We work in a constant feedback loop with the client to tailor every inch of space while all the design elements are refined.

A project can shine or sink in the details. The materials, the feeling in these spaces - we pay attention to the things that often get overlooked.”

Tyler Moench, Project Architect at Collective Office

Zen Leaf Displays
Ivy Hall Palette
Honor Render

05     Construction Documentation

Construction Documents are what make each project real and we infuse a lot of effort and detail to ensure that everything is thoroughly documented. A set of construction documents is the guide for your contractor to assemble the design vision; a rigorous and detailed set of drawings makes that design vision crystal clear to all parties and ensures a quality end product. The scope of this work encompasses many different scales from the building superstructure, to the construction and layout of all the walls, to placing individual tiles, and all the way down to detailing how two materials meet to create the perfect shadow line. This level of design rigor not only ensures the project ends up as intended but also limits problems in construction by accounting for problems before they arise. When complete, these documents are sent to the city to be reviewed and once they are approved for permit the construction process can start.

The project becomes an entity. We want to make it to a point where you can start asking questions of the project and it can provide the answers.”

Jeff Klymson, Founding Principal at Collective Office

There is power in partnership

06     Contract Administration

After we pass the torch onto the general contractor, we prefer to maintain close contact with the project through to its completion. We complete requests for information and act as another set of eyes to ensure the project is moving in the right direction. We prefer to attend regular site meetings between owner, architect, and contractor, which are useful tools to see the development of a project and tackle any questions that arise. This is an exciting stage as the collaborative vision of the team materializes and the client can further envision themselves in the finished space. We look for any inconsistencies, ensure everything is finished at a high standard, and inform the owner of any potential pitfalls to avoid.

Honor Construction 1
Zen Leaf Construction 1
Honor Construction 2

07     Post Occupancy

After the dust settles and space is finally occupied we all finally get to reap the rewards of our collective efforts. We continue to be an advocate and a resource for our clients long after they occupy their new spaces. We are there to assist in any issues that come up or make updated as requested based on their real world use of these spaces. Buildings and businesses both continually evolve over time and we can be there to support changing conditions.

They try to get to know their clients soon a personal level, a rapport that doesn't step over boundaries. It builds real trust between the client and the architect and that's not something you get everywhere.”

Client Feedback

Zen Leaf Final 2
Honor Final 2
Honor Final 4
Honor Final 3
Zen Leaf Final 3
Retail Map US
Retail IL

We currently have 27 projects and counting in Illinois.

Retail FL

In Florida, we have over 37 projects completed.

Explore details of the project by clicking the icons