DLR Group is an integrated design firm specializing in elevating the human experience through design. They solve problems by employing design thinking principles — leading to community centered results.
In part two of our conversation with Josh Doss, a mixed-use architect and senior associate at DLR Group, we discuss:
- Consultant Collaboration with Architects
- Cost and Creativity in Design
- Meaningful Outdoor Spaces
- The Future of Rooftop Amenities
Learn how a collaborative approach to cost and creativity can bring more value to your rooftop and outdoor amenity projects.
Consultant Collaboration with Architects
Loft Six Four: Do you have any standout examples, good or bad, where you’ve seen an example of a consultant that either nailed it or really didn’t?
Josh Doss: Good ideas can come from anywhere. Several years ago, we were working on a hospitality project, and we were in the charette and we had invited the entire engineering team, and one representative each from mechanical, plumbing, structural.
The mechanical engineer had the idea of the day for the whole concept of the project, but didn’t speak a word during the session – almost as if they weren’t engaged or even paying attention. An hour and a half to two hours into the project, they share this brilliant idea. It became the foundation of the design concept for the entire project.
At DLR Group, we believe that everyone has a design voice and we truly believe that’s in our ethos, in our culture. Everyone has a design voice and good ideas can come from anywhere.
The Cost and Creativity Relationship with Design
Loft Six Four: How do you view the relationship between creativity and cost?
Josh Doss: Design is about creating thoughtful spaces and being purposeful and intentional and it doesn’t necessarily require an infinite budget to get there. The balance between creativity and cost comes down to deciding what’s most important based on your budget and using creative thinking to bring it to life in a way that feels authentic.
Expertise Leads to Creative Opportunities
Loft Six Four: How have you seen consultants help or hurt you with cost versus creativity? Meaning acknowledging cost, working with you along the path, helping advise you through that process? Have there been any good or bad examples that way or standout moments of like, this is how I would love a consultant to work with us and help us with that?
Josh Doss: Expertise is everything. People who are confident in what they do, have an idea from the beginning and can tell us their baseline of what they typically do on 90 percent of projects. With this insight, we’re able to understand very clearly and plainly where we want to go above baseline. We believe that those kinds of things are understood in a partnership — where the balance between cost and creativity is based on the client’s goals and objectives.
Build Amenities for Now and the Future
Over the past few years, there’s been a primary focus on outdoor spaces where people can connect with nature and feel relaxed in their space. more comfortable being outdoors. As we look to the future, we’re finding ways to continue adding amenities that are popular with residents while also adding in new elements that maybe feel more unique and intentional like an outdoor wellness area with connection to the indoor gym and spa.
Meaningful Outdoor Spaces
Loft Six Four: What is the best or most memorable outdoor experience you’ve ever had or seen?
Josh Doss: When I studied abroad in college, the plazas in Italy are something that really stands out to me. The way that the city centers were set up in Siena, Venice and Perugia were memorable. It’s amazing to see that it was a central hub of the town and everybody was there. The market was there, often it was around the church or centered on the view. The community came together in those plaza spaces and it was the heart of the town. I try to translate that to how those amazing outdoor spaces can be the heart of the community and really create this idea of community and togetherness within those social spaces. Another experience was working on AC Hotel Bozeman. This property opened during the pandemic, but offers a spectacular outdoor roof terrace with nearly 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. It’s one of those experiences that you can’t find in many places and I loved having the opportunity to bring that to life.
Loft Six Four: Very cool. I’ll have to check that out. You mentioned your time in Europe and these great plazas and the heart of the community type thing. Are there any of those elements that you try to incorporate here in your projects?
Build Community Through Design
Josh Doss: We’re naturally social beings. Putting on the hospitality lens, we try to create these multifunctional spaces that allow for people to have these chance encounters, to have a space where residents can have a cup of coffee and interact with their neighbors each day. As humans, we sometimes forget that human connection is needed, so designing to encourage and support having a sense of community and social interaction is super important. It’s the smaller spaces or unique offerings that are unexpected that add a lot of value to the project and appeal to residents.
Create Memorable Spaces
Loft Six Four: We like to say either we are setting the stage for those opportunities or we’re just creating opportunities to connect. By intentionally creating these opportunities, residents will naturally gravitate to them and may even discover something outside of their comfort zone.
Josh Doss: We’re designing spaces for people to gather and create unforgettable experiences. Executing this can actually be pretty simple in concept, focus on the views, add in elements like fire pits, a horizontal folding wall that opens up the space to connect indoors and outdoors, and a variety of furniture and planters and guests will naturally gravitate there.
The Future of Rooftop and Outdoor Amenities
Loft Six Four: Where do you see the future of rooftop and outdoor amenities going?
Josh Doss: People want places where they can gather, create community and spend time together. With this in mind, we foresee outdoor amenity offerings continue to grow while indoor amenities will likely stay the same.
Prioritize Multifunctional Spaces
What we’re seeing on the indoor side is a need to create more multifunctional spaces. The ballooning of the coworking space, for example, doesn’t make any sense anymore. We’re trying to make sure that the lounge area is great for coworking during the day, but can flip at night or in the morning for coffee and socializing. Using multifunctional spaces is going to help size the indoor amenities and the outdoor amenities will grow.
One example is adding an outdoor terrace that’s built for yoga. As people’s schedules become busier, there is a demand for more connection to nature. Having a variety of spaces for people to have time for relaxation and restoration will continue to be a primary focus.
Loft Six Four: Do you have any parting words, any advice you would give to any aspiring architects that want to be like Josh Doss?
Design with Purpose
Josh Doss: Be purposeful. Go into any project you’re working on with the mindset that you can do it. For young design professionals, it’s important to remember that things don’t happen overnight. Discovering your passion and refining your skills takes time and it’s good to try new things.
If you have a passion, roll up your sleeves, figure out how to do it. It won’t always be easy, but it’s always rewarding. Put in the time and effort to make it something more because more is more.
Missed part one of this conversation? Read it here.
Josh Doss, AIA, is a Senior Associate and Mixed-Use Design Leader at DLR Group. Josh specializes in the design of mixed-use, housing, hospitality and retail facilities, a role that allows him to work closely with clients to create interesting spaces where people live, work, and relax. He approaches every project as an opportunity to transform a client’s vision into a unique destination that fosters a sense of community and attracts visitors from around the world. His extensive mixed-use portfolio spans across the Midwest, including high-end residential properties The Rocks in Roeland Park, Kansas and Lux Living – 14th & Wyandotte Mixed-Use Tower in Kansas City, Missouri. Josh’s hospitality design experience includes multiple AC Hotels by Marriott, a lifestyle brand targeting travelers who prefer an authentic experience with local dining and entertainment options.