DAVIS brings its experience in office architecture and design to Marina Heights, the future hub for State Farm.
IF YOU’RE STANDING in an office building in the Phoenix area, there’s a chance DAVIS had something to do with its design. That’s because, according to Mike Davis, his firm has designed nearly a third of the city’s 105 million square feet of planned office space, a testament to the vast expertise DAVIS brings to office structures.
Davis launched his firm on Nov. 1, 1991, after working for three companies throughout his career. Today, President Rory Carder leads DAVIS, a role she earned in 2011 after joining the firm in 2003. DAVIS employs 45 people out of its Phoenix headquarters.
DAVIS boasts capabilities in urban planning, architecture and interior design for private sector development. Soaring to New Heights DAVIS entered into a design/build partnership with Ryan Companies US for its largest project and the largest office development in Arizona history – known as Marina Heights, in Tempe, Arizona.
According to the Ryan Companies US, the LEED Silver design covers an area of about 20 acres. The 2 million-square-foot project includes five office towers, two standalone retail buildings and two below- grade parking levels. State Farm has leased approximately 1.9 million square feet for the development, according to Ryan Companies.
Marina Heights features approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space to coincide with a transit-oriented development that includes food service, restaurants, coffee shops, business services and fitness facilities.
The project also takes advantage of the adjacent Tempe Town Lake with a 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the project.
Construction crews broke ground on the project in July 2013, and the first 370,000-square-foot office building took in its first State Farm employees in December 2015.
The entire Marina Heights development is scheduled to be completed in 2017, when it will hold 8,000 employees at its capacity. Davis says not only is Marina Heights a major accomplishment for his firm, but the development serves as a magnificent billboard for what DAVIS does best. The glass-enclosed cluster of structures is a shining beacon designed with the needs of millennial workers in mind, featuring an interior with colorful break areas throughout an open work concept.
In order to keep a grasp on the reigns of the largest development in company history, DAVIS forged an invincible partnership with Ryan Cos. According to Carder, the partners came together during the preplanning stage to define protocols for every imaginable process of the project, including how to submit requests for information under intense timelines and addressing changes on a project with constant evolution.
“We sat down with Ryan to discuss the collaboration and clear communication that would need to occur until 2017,” Carder says. “We had to get everything operating like a well-oiled machine so when we hit the ground running, we would be locked in unison as a united front. We had to understand how this project was going to function successfully at all levels of participation, with communication playing a dominant role.”
“The power of technology and the Internet has enabled our industry to execute specific tasks in nanoseconds compared to days if not weeks,” Davis says. “I can’t imagine how we would get this done the old-fashioned way.
“Today, we put together computer generated models of projects in such a short amount of time versus the old-school method of building them by hand,” Davis adds. “Now, with a click of a button, we get as many renderings as you want, and any particular vantage point desired.”
The Perfect Size
In the latter part of the last decade, DAVIS found itself having to right-size its business in order to survive the fallout of the Great Recession. The company had grown to over 150 employees at one point, but between 2008 and 2012, DAVIS dropped to 12 people. Today, DAVIS employs 45, a good size to encourage collaboration among colleagues and offering synergy across a variety of disciplines.
“At 45 people today, we’re stronger than when we were at 150,” Carder says. “The type of colleague we have today prior to the recession is a much more universal individual.
“Everyone can do everything, so there is a lot more cross-pollination going on,” Carder adds.
Davis described his firm before the recession as more of a collection of studios instead of one cohesive team, with groups working strictly on retail, office and residential jobs in silos.
“At that point in time, it seemed like a good way to manage the business,” Davis says. “But we feel good about where we are today, and we have found that our robust capability is not only being able to master plan architecture and the entire interior, but we can create a unique experience for every person who walks onto the Marina Heights campus.”