All current indicators point to an optimistic future outlook for the commercial construction industry. Current data from the US Census on nonresidential construction placed seasonally adjusted spending at $437.8 for June 2017. A US Chamber of Commerce survey said 96% of respondents were confident revenues would remain stable or increases this year. A forecast by Freedonia Focus Reports projected the nonresidential construction industry to reach $523 billion in spending by 2021, with the most growth in the office sector thanks to the rebounding economy. Another future construction indicator generated by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture Billings Index, increased to 2.1 points from April to May. With overarching positive numbers, the new construction is poised for growth. What trends can we expect to dominate construction projects in the next five to ten years?
The User Experience
The new retail world woos consumers through creating “destination experiences.” More shopping and retail centers are delivering food-entertainment concepts. For example, new movie chains offering restaurant food and lounge-like seating draw consumers to the location. Another trend is the Entertainment District, where regularly scheduled live performances and special events take place in a venue surrounded by restaurant and shopping destinations.
Dovetailing off the end user experience, more people are looking for a lifestyle that places everything they need to work, play, and live within close range. The construction trend will focus on infill projects that bring amenities closer to where people live and work. Locating new retail and entertainment projects near high-density population areas creates the lifestyle experience consumers seek. As part of meeting this lifestyle demand, mixed-use projects will become more popular.
Environmentally Friendly Design
Cost drives construction methods. Through that lens, construction practices will approach sustainable design practices as a way of lowering costs during construction and long-term for the occupant. Designing spaces to make use of natural lighting reduces the need to run heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Other popular elements: using recycled hardwoods, LED lighting, solar energy, and green spaces.
In some urban areas, leasing retail space cost is at a premium. Blending retail environments is a way for small businesses to share costs while doubling or tripling the potential foot traffic. We’ve seen coffee venues that double as bicycle repair shops and cafes with art studios. Matching retail with food and beverage offerings makes consumers linger in the space, feel more at ease, and consequently, spend more money.
One survey says 35% of contractors are using modular construction during the building’s design phase. In a way, it’s faster to build pieces off site in a factory, transport, and assemble on-location. Since the pre-fabrication process resembles an assembly line, the workers become more efficient which speeds build times. Factory shelter means no damaged materials like lumber warp and no weather delays. The quality control is better, with all the tools situated in one place instead of scattered around different work sites. Efficient workers, no weather problems, and the right tools close at hand generate faster construction times and cost savings.
Apply virtual reality and augmented reality for architects and developers to see the build before the first shovel hits the dirt. VR use during the design and planning development phases helps avoid costly mistakes. Changing anything during a build adds to the project budget and timeline. For example, a hospital in Los Angeles used VR with its doctors and nurses to help layout the equipment in the rooms, helping change the logistics of the space. The same can be done with any construction buildout.