Urban Design Strategy

Updating 3,500 acres of prime land away from industrial use, how might a global conglomerate retain its vitality and meaning to society?

Project Intent

As a family-owned company looked to review the use of prime urban land it has owned for over 50 years, its main concern was to preserve the vitality of the land. The intent with this project was to define a set of guiding principles that would govern the future revival and redesign of the campus.


The proposed guiding principles would act as the key to meaningful alignment for a 120-year old company, along with being evaluative and generative tools for engaged urban designers, architects and designers.

Research Tracks

In mapping internal and external audiences of the current campus, we cast a wide net to understand what the campus symbolized to the family, its 25,000 employees, residents of the land, city-dwellers and local designers.

We tried to capture the essence of the space, while being respectful to its history. Activities included contextual observations, walks with residents, co-creation exercises, and in-person benchmarking.

Framework Development

Interpreting various participant responses and analyzing several forms of data together, the team worked both at a higher strategic plane, as well as with a refined, nuanced approach.

Together, a foundational framework was built and populated, defining a distinct role for the seven key variables: Context, Community, Culture, Commerce, Leadership, Partnership, and Stewardship.

Project Vocabulary

The guiding principles were expanded to include various support elements including a declarative, role, design directives and exemplars.

Tone & Placement

As the guiding principles were meant to be both generative and evaluative tools, the direction offered was optimized to inspire. Defining the design directive as questions, we designed the principles to open dialogue and thinking.


An exhibition was designed to showcase the conception and evolution of the guiding principles. To broaden the reach of the work-in-progress, a website was conceived.


A website was designed as a co-creation research tool during the framing of the guiding principles. It helped gather feedback from key family members and the client team. 


The toolkit was designed to be given to any designer engaged in a project on campus. It contained a book, a poster, cards, and contextualizing content from the campus.

Deployment Strategy

Leveraging the guiding principles, we defined a deployment strategy to kick-off the new vision and masterplanning effort. The guiding principles would serve as tools throughout the process, propelled by the ownership team.