Business Journal showcases L.A. professionals who are sold on retail property development.
David Rogers, 66
Jerde Partnership, Venice
As co-head of the design team at Venice architecture firm Jerde Partnership, David Rogers was design principal of Macerich Co.’s reconstruction of Santa Monica Place and was a senior designer of Universal CityWalk.
Though he’s worked internationally, including running his own firm in Saudi Arabia and designing a pedestrian street in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the work he has done in Los Angeles has been the most challenging of his 40-year career.
He notes that development here often requires public participation on a scale not seen elsewhere, citing the seven-year effort to get a design approved for Santa Monica Place – an experience that included both strong support and opposition.
“We started out with a project that was one thing and we went through a whole process of re-envisioning the idea. I’d never been through it before,” he said. “No other place in the world, and I’ve worked in Asia and the Middle East, has been as heartfelt.”
Rogers said that retail design is significantly different from other specialties. With office buildings, a design needs to meet only the requirements of a company, while retail design needs to meet the needs of a company – and the surrounding community.
“That has to work not only when it opens but to sustain itself over time so when new people come, it’s a continuation of the fabric of that part of the city,” said the Kansas City, Mo., native, who first became interested in architecture as an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska.
Rogers received a master’s in architecture from the University of Minnesota before working for an architecture firm in Athens, Greece. That led him to a partnership in Saudi Arabia, where he had a firm for seven years. He then worked for Barton Myers Associates Inc. in Los Angeles before joining Jerde in 1988.
Four decades into his career, Rogers still has professional goals, including a desire to build a retail project above a Metro subway station, similar to what has been done at the Purple Line stop at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. A 449-unit apartment complex with ground-floor retail was constructed there a few years ago.
“That was a matter of taking a corner in a piece of very ho-hum urban fabric and making something really special and an experiential place out of it,” he said. “My dream project would be a larger project than that.”
When he’s not designing retail centers, Rogers is restoring old cars. He has a 1959 Chevy El Camino in his garage in which he is putting a Corvette engine.
He’s been working on it for about five years, and jokes that he’s got “probably another 20” until it’s ready to run. In fact, Rogers said he’d be a car designer if he weren’t an architect. He designed and painted model cars as a child, winning local competitions.
“I think the whole idea of car culture is an important component of my life, and the building of cars when I was a kid was really the only creative outlet available,” he said.
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