From SoCal Real Estate’s December 2018 issue:
Kevin Newman, principal of Newmark Garrison + Partners, discusses integrating design and sustainability in CRE projects.
By Carrie Rossenfeld
Kevin Newman began his career in March 1980, when he joined Houston-based Kaufman-Meeks Architects. In 1985, the firm expanded geographically into the California market, opening operations that spring in Newport Beach, California. Newman became a partner in 1994 and had an opportunity to purchase the Newport Beach office in 2005 when the founding partner, Mark Kaufman, decided to retire from architecture to become a full-time developer. Thus, a new partnership was formed in November of 2005, and the firm’s name changed to Newman Garrison + Partners.
Earlier this year, the architectural firm, which specializes in creating mid- and high-rise multifamily towers, mixed-use, urban infill and transit-oriented developments, resort communities, and workforce and student housing, patented its low-cost, sustainable, affordable-building design concept, New Block™, allowing it to be used by urban developers nationwide. An effort to address the challenges developers faced building and financing cost-effective apartments during the recession, New Block™ is an architectural design concept that targets two-acre urban infill sites. Built entirely in Type V wood-frame construction, the concept provides up to 24,000 square feet of usable open space — 45 percent of which is park landscape — incorporating a sustainable “live green roof” system and providing an overall cost-effective solution for developers across the nation.
In a statement released by a representative of the firm in March, Newman is quoted as saying, “After eight years of working with our patent attorneys, we’re proud to now offer a successful green-building solution to urban markets across the country and are excited for developers nationwide to finally be provided a unique and sustainable housing solution that addresses several critical challenges that developers face in today’s environment.”
SoCal Real Estate caught up with Newman to discuss his growth with the firm, the place of sustainable design in commercial real estate, and the next evolution of sustainability in these projects.
SoCal Real Estate: What do you believe has led to your success as a principal of a major Southern California design firm?
Newman: Having been mentored by Mark Kaufman and Don Meeks for over 25 years and heading the Newport Beach office for 11 years provided me with the knowledge and experience I would need to run a business, while maintaining an active role overseeing the design studio.
I see myself more as an entrepreneur, as I’m involved with most of the day-to-day operations of the firm. Giving responsibility to my staff, while encouraging their personal growth, is important for the future success of the firm. Surrounding myself with high achievers, whether in the studio or outside, continues to fuel my desire to be successful.
One aspect of our studio is to maintain a high level of service to our clients, while providing creative design solutions that create financially rewarding projects. There are three things our firm strives to provide our clients on a consistent basis: being on time, being accurate, and being creative. We are in a service-oriented industry, which I believe has struggled to meet the demands that our clients place on us. Our firm prides itself on providing the “experience” our clients deserve when they choose to hire our firm.
How are design and sustainability integrated in commercial real estate development?
Sustainability is an investment, similar to the way we might invest into the stock market or a business. When we choose to integrate sustainable concepts into the design process, we are making an investment for the future. We may not see its impact right away, as with any other venture we may take, but it helps to strengthen the long-term value a design embraces.
Many people believe that sustainability means extra cost or fancy equipment that may mechanically or technologically allow a design to achieve its goals. But I believe sustainability is more of a mindset. It is a mental appreciation of where the world is heading, what the future will require, and how to design with that outlook in mind. And taking it one step further, sustainability is a creative edge. It is the capability of the artist to paint their masterpiece while respecting the boundaries of the canvas.
How does sustainability impact the design process?
The design process must take all aspects of a building design into account to be successful. The use of a building, the budget for construction, and sustainability are equal parts to be considered when designing any type of structure. We must understand the importance sustainability has on a design and integrate features into the conceptual design. Sustainability cannot be tacked onto the roof as an afterthought.
What will the next evolution of sustainable design bring to the built environment?
I think the next evolution of sustainable design will be the seamless integration of technology and adaptability, without compromising the beauty of design. We’ve seen it recently with the introduction of solar roof panels by Tesla, etc. I think concepts like that are the future. It bridges the gaps between the end-user, the designer, and the real benefits of sustainability. It’s still an investment, but a much more digestible and integrated investment.