HKS Architects, Inc. participated in the Bisnow LA Construction and Development Summit on June 25th at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. In addition to hosting an exhibit, HKS LA Managing Principal Scott Hunter spoke as part of a panel of local AE professionals on the current and future state of Los Angeles construction and development. 250 attendees listened as Hunter and 3 other panelists (Andrew Millar, Hensel Phelps Construction; Tony Moayed, Tricorp Construction; and Chris Barton, Hudson Pacific Properties) provided insight into the future of construction for LA. CBRE senior managing director Robert Peddicord moderated the session.
Hunter told the audience that the firm’s LA office has grown 50% in 18 months by doing diverse projects. Not all are large-scale, but developers are starting to scout for projects, and the market is coming around slowly. However, the financial condition of government clients is still a concern. Case in point, HKS was awarded a major renovation of the federal building in Westwood, only to have the GSA pull the plug.
Hensel Phelps executive development manager Andrew Millar manages the area from San Diego up to the Santa Barbara County line. Two years ago, nothing was being budgeted, even in the private sector. Now, he’s got numerous projects in the budget stages, with growth driven by hospitality, high-rise residential, and healthcare. What keeps him sleepless in SoCal? The RFP process: going through design competitions and spending millions to chase a project; money the firm will never recoup.
According to Hunter, one of the challenges is designing creative space for tech or entertainment tenants that are looking for one-story bow-truss buildings with parking in front, while their developers can only make mid-rise buildings with structured parking work. Moayed and Millar agreed that one answer is design-build. Having a team from the start working on costs and efficiencies is better than trying to work in a vacuum. According to Millar, you’re getting real-time data and construction feedback, so it’s a better end product for the owner.