Design Trends That Are On Their Way Out

February 13, 2018

Colored-curtain wall mosaics and standalone big-box retail are some trends that are becoming passé in CRE and residential real estate, MG2’s Mark Griffith tells Mixed-use residential development is a growing trend in the L.A. urban core. Orange County is next.

Colored-curtain wall mosaics, standalone big-box retail and LEED, in a way, are some trends that are becoming passé in CRE and residential real estate, MG2’s Mark Griffith tells Griffith recently joined the Seattle-based architecture and design firm as managing principal in its Irvine, CA, office. We spoke with him about his new role and the design trends that are emerging as well as those that are on their way out the door. What are your goals in your new role with MG2?

Griffith: My goals are very much aligned with the goals of the firm. MG2’s Irvine office has primarily focused on supporting efforts of our Seattle headquarters and now, our goal is to seek out more design-driven projects and to expand our services and markets to grow the MG2 brand throughout California. We’ve also recently hired Manny Bouza to lead the design effort in our Irvine office, and I’ll be working with him closely to grow our office. What are some of the architectural and design trends you’re noticing in CRE and residential development?

Griffith: In residential, it’s definitely mixed-use. The rapidly rising cost of land in L.A. is driving rents and home costs to record highs. Living spaces are becoming smaller and denser. We are seeing more and more vertical living space currently in the planning stages. Traffic is another issue affecting residential design. People want to avoid driving as much as possible and prefer walking a short distance to work, shop, eat and basically live. So, mixed-use residential development is a growing trend in the L.A. urban core. Orange County is next.

In the context of mixed-use development, driven by the desire to live, work and play close to home, we are seeing a welcomed return of “placemaking” in our design concepts. We pay an inordinate amount of attention in designing the public pedestrian spaces to be inviting and memorable.

One growing trend we see in retail development is food halls. This trend started around 2010 and has spread globally. It has recently found its way into the Southern California market. The trend is being driven by retail rent costs and consumer interest in gourmet locally sourced cuisine. Food halls accomplish this through a collective of small-footprint gourmet establishments. We’ve got some interesting projects in the works in this category including one in Canada with our client Shape Properties. What trends are dying out now?

Griffith: In CRE, I’m hopeful the design trend of colored curtain wall mosaics and patterns is dying. This is so overused and so it’s no longer unique and almost dated.

Stand-alone big-box retail in Southern California is done. It’s difficult to find a retail parcel big enough to support these developments with the right ROI. What we are seeing is densification of the big box. Much like our projects in Asia, we are beginning to put the parking on the roof and sometimes even stacking the boxes on top of each other in our mixed-use developments.

LEED is not so much dying out, but becoming passé. Much of the California Building Code incorporates LEED design concepts, so nearly every project we design now could be certified LEED Silver. What else should our readers know about your firm?

Griffith: MG2 is more than a retail design firm. We often get pegged as that because it is a large part of our business; however, our portfolio includes luxury resort hotels, full-service hotels, fine dining and casual restaurants, commercial offices, multi-family towers, warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. Our service offerings include entitlements, master planning, industrial planning, interior design and architectural design. Our project-delivery methodology and successful track record are rated within the best in the country.


Article written by: Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.