The view from the CREATE offices

Press Coverage

CREATE has been featured in many publications over the last 20 years.
Here's a selection of those articles:

MARE Journal, April 2020

Best of 2019 - Best Architecture: CREATE

Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal, April 2020

CREATE Architecture Planning & Design, PLLC: Plymouth Meeting Mall
Location: Plymouth Meeting, PA
Type of project: Former Macys department store conversion
Size: 214,385 SF

Plymouth Meeting Mall is a pioneer in retail proving success is what happens when you plan ahead! The journey started 10 years ago with a planned long-term vision when we added Whole Foods Market and a slew of open-air retail over a 350-car parking garage. In 2019, we converted a former 3 level Macy’s to Burlington Stores, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Edge Fitness Club, Miller’s Ale House and Michaels.

See article online

Shopping Centers Today, December 2014

CREATE Architecture Profile

Shopping Centers Today, December 2014

Over the years CREATE has been called everything from "The Developer’s Architect" to the "Little Firm that Could" but what they like best is being called their client's "go to guys." 

Still as humble as they were nearly 18 years ago, a small startup firm in the apex of the Chrysler Building in New York City. Principal Frankie Campione never takes the credit for the work of the team noting, “It’s not my moniker on the door it’s a firm name that simply states what we do. The high energy environment is reflective of the collective team effort that makes each project successful and unique. A boutique firm by choice allows CREATE to develop personal relationships with their clients over the years and maintain Principal involvement in every project they undertake. Despite their size, CREATE’s team has designed millions of square footage of retail, malls, power centers, supermarket, turnkey retail and outlets. Frankie acknowledges as of late it’s been hard to stay under the radar with international developers recognizing their abilities.

One notable client acknowledged, “There is a culture at CREATE that was established very early on and to which they have never wavered or lost sight. Service, Quality and Attention, it’s really that simple.” So when their 15th anniversary approached a few years ago the mantra was reiterated, “We sit at our drawing boards not a board room.” Which is why none of the team members have titles, everyone does a bit of everything. Everyone is challenged to multi task from day one and why the studio environment works so well.

Nonetheless, there’s more than just the casual stance that has the clients coming back for more in a multitude of fields that reaches beyond retail. Mixed-use, urban planning, hospitality, medical offices, ecclesiastical and residential projects are all part of their wide portfolio. Frankie notes, “We have been very, very fortunate and blessed to work on a multitude of invigorating projects that reach outside our so called retail specialty. Once a client realizes you are going to give their project everything you have and more, it is extremely rewarding when they entrust you with something unexpected and unrelated to the last project. On the boards amidst the mall renovations, outlets centers and a number of national retail projects is also a high rise, a casino expansion and a medical office building. It’s simply a matter of trust.” 

15 Big Ones

15 Big Ones

Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal, August 2012

"Canvas the town and brush the backdrop...” very esoteric words from the band that brought you 'Fun Fun Fun'. It's no wonder CREATE has borrowed America’s Band's 15 Big Ones as their anniversary slogan. Both founders come across as casual and entertaining but are as unequivocally serious when it comes to the art of what they do.

Over the years CREATE has been called everything from "The Developer's Architect" to the "Little Firm that Could" but what they like the best is being their client's "go to guys." Repeat business makes up most of their current workload and they can't think of a client that hasn't used them repeatedly or remained with them. 15 years goes by fast, yet can feel like 30 when you think of the countless hours Frankie Campione, CREATE's principal and his team have dedicated to providing top notch Service, Quality and Attention. Frankie noted a few years back in conversation with 'one of the big boys,' he was told, "You won't be concerned about your clients emailing and calling you at all hours a few years from now..." Frankie responded, "When they stop calling is when I will be concerned." He unobtrusively acknowledges, "That 'big boy' by the way has gone from over 150 to about 30 staff members since then.

He is as humble today as he was 15 years ago as a small startup firm at the apex of the Chrysler Building in New York City. He never takes credit for the work at hand, noting, "It's not my moniker on the door it's a firm name that simply states what we do. We have energy and a vibe over here that is a collective team effort that makes each project successful and the efforts unique to each." They are a boutique firm by choice. Refusing to establish a roll out team, they have never grown beyond their means which is probably why they weathered the recession without layoffs or salary cuts. They just held their own. If there is indeed a light at the end of this recession tunnel, they are in front of it. Countess square footage of retail, malls, power centers, supermarket, turnkey retail and outlets, they have done their fair share. They are the underdog, no more. Frankie acknowledges it's been a little harder to stay under the radar with international developers recognizing their abilities. They don't do any real marketing; have no business development director and no PR department. Their work, efforts and results stands as their true source of marketing. "Frankie has established a culture and continually reminds us just do what we are supposed to do," notes a team member, "and as principal he sits at a drawing board not a board room."

"He's amazing at multi-tasking," noted another member of the team. "Until you get to know him, sometimes you think he's not paying attention to you, his eyes start to wander or shift up and to the right. Then you realize he's figuring out what it is we are talking about right there in his head be it a design issue, a construction RFI, a tenant dilemma. It's great to watch and even more exciting to participate!" Yet when told of his team’s enthusiasm for his leadership he nonchalantly says, "it's all four walls and a roof." Nonetheless, we’ve figured out there is a lot behind that casual stance that has the clients' coming back for more. Mixed, use, urban planning, hospitality, medical offices, ecclesiastical and residential Frankie notes, "We have been very, very fortunate and blessed to work on a multitude of invigorating projects that reach outside our so called retail specialty. Working directly with developers both public and private has given us the opportunity to expand our project types because it's simply a matter of trust. Once a client realizes you are going to give their project everything you have and more, it is extremely rewarding when they hand you something else they are working on totally unrelated to the last project you did." This would explain why a shopping center developer turned over a high rise dorm to CREATE for schematic and design development responsibilities and another did same with a medical office condominium.

When we asked him to reflect just a bit on the past 15 years, good or bad Frankie still thinks of themselves as the little guy or the "kid" as one CEO still refers to him and if you know him, he is really a kid at heart. "Every new project or new client meeting your stomach is filled with the same butterflies you had at your elementary school play," he adds. He maintains an ultra-professional staff that refers to all clients as Mr., Mrs., Sir, etc. It's not an act, its architecture as it's supposed to be with a professional Client relationship. He recalls a Senior VP at a major construction company telling him at year 5 that he won’t believe where CREATE will be in 5 more years. The same guy said it again at year 10. This past year when they spoke the VP noted the next 15 years are going to be even greater, as he heard a long pause from Frankie on the other end, he asked, "What's wrong?" Frankie's response, "I hope they don't go by as quickly!"

Development of the Month

Development of the Month

Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal, August 2009

Tilden Township, PA – Home of the largest and most successful Cabela's Worlds Foremost Outfitter store in the nation, is about to become home to another large commercial project. Plans for the Tilden Ridge Shopping Center were originally presented to the Township in 2004 and the project is slated to open to the public in Spring 2011 including approximately 420,000 sf of retail space.

"Tilden Ridge is going to be a first class retail destination, satisfying demand from local, regional and super-regional customers," said Jeremy Fogel, president of Ironwood Property Group, LP. "We are very excited to have Tilden Ridge as our next door neighbor," said Kathy Foster, investment real estate manager at Cabelas. "Our Hamburg store continues to be the #1 store of our 30 retail stores ever since it opened in 2003."

Tilden Ridge is the second Berks County project for Ironwood. The firm is currently working with the Goldenberg Group to complete Exeter Commons on Rte 422 in Exeter Twp, also design by CREATE.

"Everyone involved has worked extremely hard on the project and we are excited to see that work paying off," said Eric Knopping, principal with Ironwood.

Development of the Month

Development of the Month

Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal, June 2009

Exeter, PA – Exeter Commons, Berks Cty's most exciting new retail destination, is progressing ahead of schedule, with some of the nation's top retailers opening their doors in late Summer 2009. The $75 million power center is being developed by Exeter JV Associates a partnership of The Goldenberg Group and Ironwood Property Group.

"Exeter Commons has been a high-development priority for Exeter Twp for more than 10 years," said Kevin Trapper senior vice president of The Goldenberg Group. "A number of national developers were thwarted by seemingly insurmountable technical and traffic obstacles. All of us at The Goldenberg Group and Ironwood are proud of our ability to overcome those challenges."

"In this challenging economic environment, retailers are seeking only the best locations. Exeter Commons is a strategic site that promises to be one of the premier shopping centers in Berks County," said Jeremy Fogel, principal of Ironwood. One of the fastest growing counties in PA, Berks Cty is located in the heart of the DE Valley, which boasts some of the leading industrial and trade complexes in the nation. When complete, the CREATE designed Exeter Commons will be a strong asset to the area and potentially a powerful catalyst for additional redevelopment.

Courting a New Market

Courting a New Market

Hospitality Style, July 2008

Danbury Fair’s food court plays up a park-like setting to lure lifestyle shoppers attracted by hot new retail tenants. It would take window shoppers a number of repeat visits to Danbury Fair mall to reach visual satiety. After a day of trend spotting, it’s not surprising that denizens of the material world expect more from the adjoining food court than just another Formica fortress with lightweight chairs and undersized tables. Macerich, owner and manager of the 1.3 million-square-foot regional shopping center in southwest Connecticut’s affluent Fairfield County, saw an opportunity to ring up higher sales with a park-like design concept that makes the food court as “must see” as the stores.

Moving the food court upmarket is part of management’s strategy to change Danbury Fair’s profile. The first step in the shift from institutional to inviting was to reconfigure the space. Mass-market appeal may be great, but mass-feeding vibe is not. Banquettes help make the Danbury Fair mall’s renovated food court more personable. “The vendors said they wanted to give their customers individual attention,” says David Piper, VP of design and planning for Macerich. Whimsical elements such as oversized topiaries were added to lend some privacy to the seating arrangements. These fanciful green giants do more than add a welcome touch of nature. The 13 foot topiaries remind shoppers they are not in a typical food court.

A&P Dewy Meadow Village

A&P Dewy Meadow Village

New Supermarket Design, Harper Collins, 2007

The problem confronting CREATE was the opposite of most other projects in this book: the need not to resort to clichés when designing the A & P supermarket in Basking Ridge which includes and adjacent pharmacy. The center's architecture had to make reference to the area's history and convey a sense that the entire supermarket had been planned as a town square. To achieve this, the center was designed to reflect the architecture of A & P supermarkets from the early 1900's.

The problems became clear when trying to reconcile this "retro" architecture with modern antifire legislation by way of a steel superstructure that would imitate the wooden structures of more than 100 years ago. Another obstacle came from the fact that both the supermarket and the annexed pharmacy are double the size of their twentieth century predecessors.

The Basking Ridge supermarket is a true journey into the past, an homage to supermarkets from the turn of the twentieth century, and not, as could be thought at first glance, just an attempt at a retro style.

New Life & New Mission

New Life & New Mission

New York Times, July 17, 2004

Philip Johnson's steel and concrete fantasia in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, designed as the New York State Pavilion for the 1964-65 World's Fair has been crumbling for decades. Now it is finally getting some attention.

Mr. Johnson who turned 98 last week was unavailable for comment but Alan Ritchie [Philip Johnson's design partner] said "Mr. Johnson cringed every time he passed the crumbling pavilion on the way to the airport."

Manhattan Architect Frankie Campione has proposed turning the pavilion into an aerospace museum. Mr. Campione said he was concerned that the [pending] theater addition would detract from Mr. Johnson's composition. Worse, he said, construction could damage the existing building, which, because it was not intended to be permanent, was constructed on wooden pilings.

The [pavilion] is only one of several significant building projects in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. A radical alteration to the Queens Museum, by the Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss is in the panning stages and a 55,000 sf addition to the Hall of Science by Polshek Partnership Architects of Manhattan is nearing completion.

Development of the Month

Development of the Month

New Jersey Real Estate Journal, September 2003

Mt. Laurel, New Jersey - The All star team selected to develop the Centerton Square Shopping Center includes CREATE Architecture Planning & Design, Langan Engineering and IMC Construction. Developers Diversified Realty Corp. a self administered and self managed REIT which currently owns 400 retail operating and development properties in 44 states comprising over 83 million sf is the Owner and developer of the center and was responsible for the team selection.

Gary Hough, development director for DDR said, "When complete, Centerton Square will be a well designed and constructed shopping destination for residents in Southeast Pennsylvania and Central New Jersey."

The center's character and design was conceived by CREATE of New York. "Centerton Square is a power center where architecture is the dominant force," said Frankie Campione, CREATE's Principal. "The buildings are about pleasing the public and enforcing a design character that welcomes deviation from national prototypes. Each tenant has committed to the concept to create a space with a sense of familiarity."

When completed the Centerton Square Shopping Center will total 750,000 sf of retail space. It will include several mega stores ranging in size form 30,000 to 130,000 sf including Target, Wegman's and Bed Bath & Beyond."

The Little Firm that Could!

The Little Firm that Could!

Shopping Center Business, December 2002

In just five years since its inception, New York City-based CREATE Architecture Planning & Design has become a leader in the retail design industry. With offices atop the world-famous Chrysler Building, CREATE's studio evokes the ingenuity and creative response all developers seek: basic building materials and cost effective, innovative responses.

"Service, quality and attention" is the CREATE mantra, says Principal Frankie J. Campione. Over 85% of the firm's current workload is repeat clientele. "We are fortunate to have a core group of clients that have done referrals for us," he says. "We don't try to be everything to everyone, just the best for a few."

With that in mind, CREATE has drawn the attention of such prominent national developers as Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), Developers Diversified Realty Corp and General Growth Properties. All three are clients of CREATE.

"Its wonderful," says Campione. "The big developers have discovered they can hire a small firm and get Principal involvement from inception to completion. The boutique approach to our studio allows us to accommodate the rapid changes in the retail business" (He likens his firm to a speedboat rather than a cruise ship attempting to turn on a dime.)

The CREATE team has handled four mall renovations in the 5 years including last year's 1.2 million sq. ft. renovation of Willow Grove Park in suburban Philadelphia. In the New York metro market, CREATE has completed the 100,000 sf Pathmark Plaza Shopping Center for Queens based Developer, The Mattone Group. CREATE has also completed Dewy Meadow Village in Basking Ridge, New Jersey for Garden Homes Development and are now in conceptual design phase for a 750,000 sf power center called Centerton Square in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey for Developers Diversified. Among CREATE's non-retail projects is its stabilization and adaptive re-use of the New York State Pavilion at the former World's Fair Grounds to an Air & Space Museum for the people of New York

Dartmouth Mall

Dartmouth Mall

Shopping Centers Today, May 2001

Dartmouth Mall is it's own Cinderella story since the completion in November of its renovation. Prior to the renovation sales had dropped to $200/sf by 1997 the year PREIT bought the center. Today Dartmouth Mall is doing swimmingly. Sales run about $400/sf and the center is 96% leased.

"This was not a casual coat of paint," said Tim Colby, senior regional manager with PREIT. CREATE tore out an old dropped ceiling, ripped up drab gray tile floors and redid the entrances. In fact, there is very little that has remained untouched.

The curvature of ships' hulls, the play of light on water and other references to the nearby sea can be found in the design by CREATE. Entrances have 35-foot masts with steel rigging; corridors are paved with tile mosaics of compasses.

"Everywhere you look is something interesting," Colby said. "It's a big success story."

All these factors combined have helped Dartmouth Mall once again feel like the most popular kid on the block.

Mobirise

Willow Grove

Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2000

Willow Grove Park officials announced yesterday a mall renovation with a Victorian era theme. Part of the $25 million project that will be completed in November 2001 and will include a new Macy's and a three story parking deck, the renovation is a tribute to the famed amusement park that enjoyed its heyday on the site long before the mall.

"The mall is on sacred ground," architect Frankie Campione said at a news conference. In manufacturing decadence and whimsy, Campione and his colleagues at CREATE Architecture Planning & Design in New York have redesigned the mall's food court by replacing its mirrored ceilings with drywall and bringing mosaic mural walls and table inlaid with original Willow Grove Park memorabilia.

The mall failed to capitalize on its historical niche when it opened in 1982 said Judy Trias, a mall spokeswoman. Trias said the mall's owners, which purchased the mall in February for $140 million, pushed for interior renovations while trying to recruit another department store to join Bloomingdale's, Sears and Strawbridge's. Macy's construction began in July.

HQ for Visionaries

HQ for Visionaries

WE Magazine, April 1999

At VISIONS, an elegant and generously proportioned third-floor suite of offices and training areas incorporates the latest and greatest ideas in Universal Design, harmonized visually by a firm aesthetic that takes a diamond motif as its keynote.

The accent is on sensory development - the use of sound and touch - particularly through the cane whose sweeping motion is taught by passing it over an inlaid stone 'invisible wall' to contrast with the wood panels of the floor.

The office condominium was gutted and refashioned from the floors up by architect Frankie J. Campione of Manhattan based CREATE. Every inch of the 11,000 sf complex taps an idea. From those ingenious tactile guides subtly incorporated into the floors and walls to the low walls of office partitions that keep light flowing from the glare-protected windows and permit staffers to spot clients as they stroll by, the suite of offices is packed with ingenuity.

It's not surprising that such a preeminent organization dedicated to the blind, stands out as a beacon to all committed to accessibility.

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