Human design dynamics are like Fluid Dynamics: When the various constituent parts of a talented team all vector to a clearly defined strategic destination, creative productivity just flows; and, turbulence caused by internal friction is avoided.
Strategic Leisure's Whole Leadership drives a Laminar Design process, as there is alignment of the multidisciplinary design tasks and resources around the the strategy. When the Strategic Design is clearly defined, Strategic Leisure leads the Physical, Communications, Operations and Development designs, which flow from a carefully cast formation of talent, efficiently and cohesively moving forward.
In fluid dynamics, Laminar Flow occurs when a fluid flows in parallel layers, with no disruption between the layers. Laminar Flow is efficient, as there is no or very low viscosity, which causes Turbulence.
Viscosity is the state of being thick, sticky and semifluid in consistency, due to internal friction.
Click an aligned layer of Laminar Design for examples of Strategic Leisure's work.
At its most fundamental level, Strategic Design starts with the future place's positioning within the highly competitive market for precious slices of the public's discretionary time and spending.
Secondary research of the current facts on the ground, as well as benchmarking the tactical, molecular structure of best practices, both within the given market and globally, is the beginning.
Upon this foundation, in designing a strategy for an experiential place, the key is to then craft the clear and compelling end in mind, in tangible behavioral terms, which answers such questions as:
Why do you expect them to come?
What do you want to feel in this new place (as market behavior is driven by emotions)?
How do you expect the market to behave in terms of length of stay, spending and repeat visitation?
Entertainment Product Positioning
Park Product Positioning
Strategic Leisure understands five fundamental truths of the process of contemporary design:
1. We understand that creativity in Physical Design starts in designing the team, itself.
2. We understand the power of Parametric Design (design via programming algorithms) with CNC (computer numerical control) fabrication, which places the fabricator / builder directly in the Design Team, can produce remarkable results.
3. We understand that from Artists to Engineers, and Architects in between, great design comes from a team of great designers in every role, at every level.
5. We understand that the Nesting of Design reinforces strategic identity at all scales.
An outcome of Laminar Design is the continuity of design at all scales of the manifestation of a given strategy. Nesting of Design is the result of the clear and compelling expression of strategy, as all the design elements fit in to the whole of the strategy, from a masterplan of thousands of acres, down to the a logo the size of a postage stamp, and at all building scales in between.
Communications Design is the process of engaging the community of constituents at every level of public and professional participation in the development of an experiential place; from the internal team, to the bands of engaged constituents that ripple out from – and back into – the process and the project.
Strategic Leisure knows well the critical importance of engaging public and private sector leaders and the community at large; for without their support, nothing of strategic and creative import can be accomplished.
Keys to effective communications and successful results are forthrightness, integrity, engaged listening and of course patience. Perhaps most importantly, however, is 100% believing in what you are saying, as even those who disagree (and these voices will always exist), nonetheless respect those speak from a position of caring conviction.
Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods
For Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, Michael McCall started as a citizen himself, questioning the strategic appropriateness of a park design being proposed by landowner, Columbia Association. From this beginning as an informed citizen, Michael (via Strategic Leisure) was asked by the landowner to form and lead a new 501(c)(3), the Inner Arbor Trust. Before any new designs were revealed, Michael introduced the new design team, the “Designers of Delight,” to the community on a very personal level.
Many dozens of presentations later, the new Park plan was unanimously passed by the Howard County, Maryland, Design Advisory Panel and was unanimously made the law of the land by the Planning Board. Today, the Park's first phase, the iconic Chrysalis, actively and passively entertains the public.
Before Columbia Association voted 8 to 2 to adopt what the Board referred to as the "McCall Plan", and to form an independent Special Purpose Vehicle, provide a perpetual easement and provide $1.6 Million in startup capital for the plan's development, a Baltimore Sun feature article was orchestrated and an open-house was hosted by Columbia Association, where Michael McCall introduced the plan to the Columbia, Maryland community.
Click the three images below to go to the respective full Baltimore Sun articles.
After the historic 8 to 2 vote for the enabling legislation on February 14, 2013, the following week Columbia Association placed the below ad for the Inner Arbor Plan, co-developed with Strategic Leisure, on the back of the Columbia Flier.
Leadership Howard County: introducing the Trust and its mission to the community
Math of Architecture, Architecture of Math: How Research & Engineering Design empower the Park
Click the image below to go to the full Baltimore Sun article.
Wine In The Woods: Taking the new Park to the people in the Park
Michael McCall, President & CEO of the Inner Arbor Trust (via Strategic Leisure), has recruited all of the "At Large" Inner Arbor Trust Board Members since the organizations inception.
Click the Press Release below for the two page PDF
Strategic Leisure understands the Legal, Demand & Capacity and Financial pragmatics upon successful operations are built.
Operations Design: Legal
Since the age of 22, Michael McCall of Strategic Leisure has been the client of millions of dollars of real estate related legal services, from the biggest international firms to boutique practices. When going to work for his mentor, James W. Rouse, at age 25, Michael's immediate boss, George P. Barker, Esq, a Princeton and Columbia Universities educated attorney, was also a legal mentor. Experiential Places are real estate, founded in law, and often complex relationships.
Strategizing, Documenting and Forming the Vehicle of Change
Sheri talks about the creation of the Trust at about 24:00 minutes and Michael at about 38:00 minutes.
Negotiating & Executing Tactical Agreements
As the President and CEO of the Inner Arbor Trust (via contract with Strategic Leisure), Michael negotiated and executed all the Architectural & Engineering, Design/Build and Construction contracts for the design of Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods and the design and construction of the Chrysalis.
Operations Design: Research and Demand & Capacity Planning
Sophisticated, statistically valid, third party Demand Research is an indispensable tool in physically and economically right-sizing the Experiential Place, and in communicating that demonstrated appeal to third parties.
In addition to James Rouse, Michael was very fortunate to have a Disney mentor, former EVP of Disney Parks & Resorts Bruce Laval, who invented Disney's Fastpass. Bruce taught Michael about Demand and Capacity analysis, and how to use Market Research to project demand for types of Experiential Places that had no direct comparable. Years later, he also introduced Michael to Joni Newkirk and Scott Sanders (the former SVP and VP of Disney research and forecasting group for all Parks and Resorts, respectively), who had formed Integrated Insight.
Hence, for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, Michael engaged Integrated Insight, and in addition to working closely with Joni and Scott, also worked with the firm's ex-Disney Industrial Engineer, Michael Schweitzer. Integrated Insight's research proved, through valid and conservative statistical techniques of a 1,000 person, in depth survey, the strength of Merriweather Park at Symphony Wood's appeal, the results of which were presented to the Columbia community, and the report is published below, via link, in full.
Click the titles below for a PDF of Demand & Capacity Research conducted by Integrated Insight
For business and even for not-for-profits, it is profit which sustains an operation, employs people and fuels improvement and growth. While evolving from of the developer/ landlord profession, Michael McCall's work with Disney in the Rouse/Mouse joint venture and then Strategic Leisure's focus on product development, has firmly established a point of view grounded in operating businesses. When applied back to the landlord perspective, it makes for a more informed understanding of the tenants economics and ability to pay rent.
Having had a Disney mentor, former EVP of Disney Parks & Resorts Bruce Laval (who invented Disney's Fastpass), in analyzing businesses, when appropriate Strategic Leisure goes beyond typical real estate pro formas and address industrial engineering of the economics, such as Theoretical Hourly Capacity, and Peak-In-Park attendance vs.Design Day capacity. These theme park metrics and methodologies apply to any guest or customer driven physical business, and are valuable tools in planning or analyzing everyday destinations.
Below are some glimpses into how Strategic Leisure approaches the Financial Design.
Reds Rec. Room
Development Design is a form of storytelling, of what you want to build and why. With a clear and compelling story told with integrity and passion, you get the chance to manifest that story physically, brick by brick, or in the case of the Chrysalis, ZEPPS by ZEPPS.
Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods Plan Approval
Howard County, Maryland, has a very involved process (see flowchart below) for reviewing and approving development plans. Notwithstanding the "Site Development Plan" term, the SDP process covers everything – from the purely aesthetic and to the very technical – about a proposed development.
Michael McCall, President and CEO of the Inner Arbor Trust (via contract with Strategic Leisure) led the preparation and presentation of the Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods Park plan, which was endorsed by all five County Council members and unanimously approved by the Howard County Planning Board. Michael then led the Inner Arbor Trust's cooperative joint planning with the owners and operators of Merriweather Post Pavilion, which was also unanimously approved by Howard County Planning Board, one year later.
Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty's testimony for the Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods plan
Click the items below for the PDF of the 85 sheet Site Development Plan (SDP 14-073) submitted to Howard County by the Inner Arbor Trust, and unanimously approved by on November 20, 2014.