We take an entrepreneurial view of design.  We love the idea of long term relationships and always think in terms of partnership.  We understand that our client’s success is our success.


Services are provided according to a process of collaboration between all primary parties.  Goals, tasks, and desired outcomes are organized around client approved parameters.


We are design advocates for our client’s best interests, mentoring them through what can be a daunting process, often happening in an area outside of their normal business practice



Gaddis Architect specializes in all phases of retail design, design management and construction. If maximizing the success of your business by optimizing the performance of your store, or commercial space design is a goal, then attending the following “Insights” could provide some very real benefits. Many common, and some not so common, design challenges are analyzed. Solutions aimed at increasing retail traffic, creating visual presence in various environments, and expressing not only a particular shopping experience but also the business’s brand, are presented. We think that all design is, on some level at least, retail design.  Please scroll on, start a dialogue, contact us anytime.

Retail Design 2019 – Authentic instead of Augmented

I recently read a blog post entitled “3 Retail Design Trends To Transform 2019.”  I thought the article offered a telling view of how retailers are thinking about marketing, and related store planning activities for the new year and beyond.  To summarize, not necessarily in order:

Brand Ambassador for Cake Decoration.

Trend Two said basically, when it comes to store design, technology has gone incognito in favor of “connections through context;”   meaning conversations with customers and links to community are created by customer interaction with tangible, tactile products.

This is a lot of words to say that if you are a shopper in a hobby and craft store with a compelling display of cake decorating tools, you may, not only pick one of these up and try it out, but also buy it as a gift for your cake decorating buddy who might then share the resource with the entire cake making class.  Bingo!  You have become an ambassador for the brand and it matters little if you purchased the device at an interactive kiosk, self checkout, or old fashioned POS station, implying that the sale was not made until you were able to hold the actual product in your hand.

Trend Three, still out of order, was about using the physical environment to “empower” – presumably customer – “behaviors” rather than the other way around.  The example cited is really esoteric in that everything in the shop has one price:  entry into the store, which will, ostensibly, buy the customer a relationship with another person or person(s) through the use of artistic expression operating by way of a convoluted “trade it forward” process.  If not very practical, it is definitely thought provoking.

I tried to think of another example of how this might work and could only come up with the idea of one of those chain letters that people send around instructing their friends to “pass it on” or something terrible will happen.  This idea was too creepy, even for me, so I decided to ignore it.  You can read about the example store at the link.

Trend One,  where we find the real substance,  suggests that “bricks n mortar” retailers are, indeed, justified in  advancing a real product as long as said product makes an emotional connection with the customer. It is an approach that places outcome over experience, motivation over behavior.

Still using the example of cake decoration, I went looking for a suitable visual expression of how it feels to create a valentine for a friend.  The image in the photo jumped out at me because, even in the non cake making world, it is totally relatable.  If I was a supplier of cake decorating implements, I would use it for a poster on a display targeting the non commercial market.

Lest one get too excited about the prospect of once more advancing a real product, it is probably important to say that accomplishing a  “retail design… about creating an emotional connection” is not so easy.  Detailed and specific knowledge about the customer base working together with a flexible store design  is required for success.

The referenced article appears in the Insights section of the Chute Gerdeman website.  Chute Gerdeman is a brand experience company located in Columbus, OH

Architecture Behind the Scenes: Not so Pretty but Really Important

Invisible?  Yes but design nevertheless.  This is part of an actual project done to explain a required plumbing modification to a property owner.  It was an old building with no record of existing conditions.  We assisted the property manager by assimilating photos, sketches, and contractor notes into an understandable format which allowed the owner to allocate funds for the repair.

What do Facilities Management Companies Do?

Did you ever take a look at the list of services offered by Facilities Management Companies?  These companies do everything from A to Z when it comes to existing properties and if one cares to run through Wikiapedia’s very unofficial list, they might find that all of the items involve an architect at some point along the way.

Environment, Health and Safety:  This is a big category.  Suffice it to say, in order to maintain their professional credentials architects are required to participate in continuing education.  This is most often done through attendance on educational presentations, classes, and seminars put on by product and industry professional experts.  These activities are measured in terms of time spent and category of subject matter.  The Health Safety and Welfare category carries the largest number of required learning units.  It is fundamental to the practice of architecture.

Fire safety:  Facilities managers are charged with maintaining, inspecting,testing, and reporting on the  the condition fire safety systems in a building.  Architects, along with their engineers, can often provide valuable documentation about these systems and may be imperative in the event modifications or improvements become necessary.

Security:  “Protection of employees and the business often comes under the control of the facilities management department, in particular the maintenance of security hardware.” All I need to say about this point is, think about those long tedious door schedules that show up on a set of architectural drawings for a property.

Maintenance, Testing and Inspections:  These days, this work is often outlined and planned  in the bid and contract documents for a project.  On bigger projects, computer aided building management software (BIM) may be used by architects and other trades to follow a project from the idea to occupancy.

Building Maintenance:  Building maintenance comprises all preventative, remedial and upgrade works…” including “…disciplines such as painting and decorating, carpentry, plumbing, glazing, plastering, and tiling.”  No explanation required here.  Most architects are happy to work on, and often improve the quality and implementation of any maintenance project requiring product research and detailing.

Cleaning:  What, one might ask, has an architect to do with cleaning?  Nothing, of course, but don’t be too hasty.  I actually worked on a project in a big open atrium that caused the facilities person no end of trouble because scaffolding was required for the window washers to access the interior glass and when they were finally able to reach the area to be cleaned, water dripped down onto the exposed fascia below causing discoloration and staining.  It was an architectural detail that finally solved the problem (drop me a note if you would like to know how it was done)

Operational:  “Soft” services are not in an architects purview but the “hard” services, such as the mechanical, fire and electrical services might be.

Business Continuity Planning:  This is another item that is not typically thought of as in an architects scope of service, yet I have worked on many projects that involved designing, coordinating and administering a temporary location that allowed a business to stay open during a major remodel.

Space Allocation and Changes:  I learned a new term in this category:  “Churn.”   It means frequent spatial changes in the layout of a space.  Well said, and certainly there is no question of an architects value in this department.  Moving things around in space is what we do!

Add space by investing in a starter media fixture.

Start with a basic fixture, designed for flexibility and mobility.

Authors note:  Original article is written for and posted in the Ennco Blog.  You might want to check them out, or just read it here.

Helping Retailers Succeed – Most every year the Small Business Development Center, in my case locally in Virginia, puts on an event designed to help retailers succeed.  I usually attend.  This year’s event was The Alexandria Experiential Retail Summit, experiential being the operative word.  Most of the discussion centered around primary marketing and selling communications, which are important, but only indirectly relevant to the design of a physical store.

Make an impact with a product specific, in this case eye wear, or lifestyle graphic.

Demonstating Knowledge – Interestingly, when we broke into discussion groups more significant design issues were revealed.  In particular the need for flex space.  Retailers are finding it necessary to become experts.  Clients expect them to be masters of their particular product or service and further customers prefer to see this knowledge demonstrated, to the extent that a retailer must often become an educator.  One such resort type fashion retailer wanted to offer a mini class on how a particular brand of scarf might be worn to best advantage.  She assumed that this was impossible as she was “out of space” in her shop.

Retailers Sometimes Need Reminding – Clearly retailers occasionally need reminding that almost all floor fixtures can be mobile and mobility frees up valuable retail space within a store.  Simply by adding casters and rolling away some regular floor fixtures this owner, hoping to demonstrate how to tie her line of scarves, could easily free up enough space to stage and event featuring her product.

Invest in a Starter – Another, not to be overlooked, design issue is flexibility.  Indeed, there is a need for a highly adaptive store fixture suitable for use in many varied sets of circumstances, including options for accommodating the all important media.  This one is able to accommodate everything from a continuous video in a loop, to presentation options used to enhance a demonstration, to a basic TV in a waiting area.  It has vertical standards that can be used for shelving, a platform base for a computer, if required, and a simple backdrop made of glass or other merchandise display material like pegboard.  In addition to all this it is two sided, mobile, and has space to hide most cables.  It is a great starter for any retailer wanting to incorporate media and create that WOW moment.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED Accredited Professionnal practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design and has a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction.  She has many years experience working for well known architects, developers and retailers.  In 2011 she started Gaddis Architect an independent practice in Alexandria, VA.  In addition, Ms. Gaddis has an interest in residential projects and is the author of Real People Don’t Hire Architects,” a blog about houses.

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