The Comprehensive Guide to the Urban Retail Design Process [Infographic]

When designing retail projects in urban markets, whether developing a store in a new building or going into an existing building, having a thorough understanding of the urban design process and how it pertains to your specific project will set you and your design team up for success.

The standard architectural process varies and gets tailored to specific projects based on if the design team is creating and integrating a design criteria for a new ground up store, or if they are implementing a design criteria for an existing tenant space. It’s important for anyone involved in the design process to understand how initial phases impact all phases to follow. 

Phase Zero Design begins before the beginning using this process to get the full team on the same page from the start of the project.  This sets the foundation for effective communication throughout the design and construction process to minimize issues throughout the project schedule.

The Comprehensive Guide to the Urban Retail Design Process further expands upon the details of each phase of the architectural process as they specifically relate to a new ground up location or moving into an existing tenant space.

Standard Design & Construction Phases:

  1. Due Diligence: researching and identifying upfront information.

  2. Programming: researching and understanding the project-related criteria.

  3. Schematic Design: utilizing the information gathered to create initial design concepts.

  4. Design Development: refine and develop the initial design concept.

  5. Construction Documents: prepare the construction documentation for permitting, bidding, and construction.

  6. Construction Administration: act on the Owner’s behalf to ensure construction is performed in accordance to the design intent.


Shawn Bland discusses the urban retail design process in Seaport Square in an article with Bisnow.  Read the article: Designing Seaport Square: An Inside Look Into the Design Challenges of a Massive Commercial Development.