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Cannon Place developer triumphs 'symbiotic' relationship with architects

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Mark Swetman of Hines on why the developer wants to establish a good rapport with architects built on effective communication

What schemes are you working on?

Cannon Place is our flagship office scheme in the City, a 37,160m2 development designed by Foggo Associates, built in a joint venture with Network Rail. Hines is also just about to complete its 6,200m2 Midtown office and residential development at 280 High Holborn, by GMW.

How have the last few years been and how do you see the future?

Challenging. The recession has hit occupier confidence hard and the market is suffering. But as an investor and developer you have to look at the longevity of our buildings. Good-quality design will always rise to the top and be in the most demand.

How has the recession affected you?

We’re in the business of leasing space and occupier take up is down by about 30 per cent in 2012 on the 10-year average in the City of London. Occupiers are erring on the cautious side, which reduces the deal turnover, impacting investor confidence to develop.

What do you want from architects?

First and foremost, it’s track record and quality of design. It’s a symbiotic relationship, so chemistry is very important, there has to be a good rapport and effective communication. Understanding of the occupier’s requirements and providing the right balance between excellent design, functionality and costs are also critical.

How do you find your architects?

The architect forms a fundamental part of the package of a development team and we will always look to work with the best in the class. While we like to work with tried and trusted practices, I appreciate the benefits of working with new people who can offer a fresh approach.

Will transport interchanges play an important role in the future of large-scale urban regenerations?

Yes, you only have to look around London at the number of major developments anchored to a transport hub. Indeed, Cannon Place is built on top of Cannon Street station, one of the capital’s busiest transport hubs. Connectivity is a key driver for occupiers.

What do you think of government efforts to drive development?

I think that government working in partnership with the private sector to drive and deliver development is positive and is something to be encouraged.

Which of your projects is your favourite and why?

My personal favourite is 60 Threadneedle Street in the City, where I worked with Eric Parry.


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