Designing and building in the 21st century to illustrate and define the 21st century.
Smithfield Properties is a development company that has been in business in Chicago since the mid 1980s. Bill Smith, founder, says he started the business in the early ‘70s as a general contractor and in the mid ‘80s the company became real estate developers, selling only to itself and building things for its own account. Smithfield is known as a firm that has built basically every type of building with a strong focus throughout the years in the condominium and housing sectors. The company has recently shifted its focus to multi-family housing, both in the high-rises in Chicago, Ill. and more conventional multi-use buildings in the Phoenix, Ariz. market. The dedication to the current markets the company builds in makes Smithfield Properties a leader in development projects that relate to the contemporary lifestyles of its users. Smith understands the importance of achieving a quality of style and building execution.
“Our brand is well known in Chicago, as evidenced by our condominium projects that we sold in 2000 being resold on the MLS as a ‘Smith Field development’…our product is very distinctive and contemporary,” says Smith.
Being able to sell and market its image is critically important to the company as it moves forward. As a development and contracting firm, Smithfield Properties does perform every function in the project.
“We employ architects that design projects and then use various architectural firms for the working drawings; we value engineer during the design process, not after; we construct the buildings ourselves; we put together marketing programs with outside vendors and even balance and manage website design,” says Smith. “So we basically do every single thing related to the project except manage the buildings themselves.”
This complete-package construction/development model gives Smithfield a competitive advantage in this market. Smith believes this success is achieved by doing a remarkable job at managing the construction and being at the cutting edge of design and technology of buildings. As part of its philosophy to build in the 21st century, the company aims to adapt to new technologies for construction, as well as create sustainable building approaches. Smithfield is keenly aware of how to use materials and express them in specific ways to create new effects.
“In the last several buildings we’ve used all LED exterior common area lighting and although we are not a big proponent of the LEED scoring system, we are very concerned about sustainability and conscious about balancing all costs,” says Smith. The company is also not afraid of using old materials in new ways. Material considerations like those are present in its most recent project, Domus Apartments in Phoenix.
“The Phoenix market is typically a four-story, stick frame wood 2x4, applied stucco market, while our projects all have steel frames and windows; we’re using state of the art performance materials,” says Smith. “When we take a building like Domus, the steel is fabricated and shipped to Arizona. Windows were all pre-glazed and shipped as well. So the building was basically fabricated off site, shipped and reassembled, more like an Erector Set.”
The Phoenix heat is an integral factor in architecture and construction there. The company’s whole model was based upon a multi-family building that moves away from stucco as the exterior surface treatment and the typically dark interior spaces that occur because of small windows to mitigate the light. The sun makes large windows a problem in phoenix precisely because of heat gained through exposure, so Smithfield’s mission in Domus was to bring the outside, in.
“Most people who want to live in the Domus apartments want an indoor/ outdoor lifestyle to take advantage of beautiful sunny days and skies,” says Smith. “Every unit has a significant outdoor state and about half the units have outdoor open spaces that are 9 feet x 11 feet.”
The company furnished those developments so that when renters move in they can use their outdoor space immediately. As an amenity, Smithfield understands that the potential lifestyle of indoor/outdoor fluidity is what will make this project work from all directions.
Smithfield’s philosophy is straightforward and helps guide it towards contemporary building projects.
“We often hear contractors use the adage, ‘we always do it this way.’ I think when we hear that in our firm we know there’s another way, so we’ll spend a lot of time trying to investigate every other way to solve a problem that involves unusual structures and building material solutions,” says Smith.
Looking past what is possible today is a mainstay of its approach.
“I think being on the edge of what’s out there and knowing how to apply it to our buildings is incredibly important,” says Smith.
The company calls this buildability and practices it by trying to reduce its buildings to the lowest common denominator, from design to construction. As it continues to progress and advance into the future, Smithfield Properties is committed to finding a new way to work, build and live through its buildings.