David Martin Talks Property Design and Profits
What makes for good design may be somewhat in the eye of the beholder, but for David Martin, it’s more than a philosophical question. As the CEO of Terra Group, he has to be ready to make large and small decisions alike, and that’s not always easy to do when there are so many options to choose from. As materials evolve and new players come onto the scene, he has to keep up with numerous moving parts, evaluating everything from traditional mainstays to experimental tactics and technology that’s capturing the imagination of a nation.
The real estate development firm sports an $8 billion portfolio, and much of its success has stemmed from an innate understanding of the Southern Florida landscape paired with an ability to recognize which blueprints will speak to buyers. Martin explores the core tenets behind showstoppers like GLASS, a luxury development of full-floor residences located steps from the beach, and the Grove at Grand Bay, twin buildings that move against the sky in a seamless celebration. He delves into why structures of every variety need to incorporate good design and how good design can impact the neighborhood and beyond.
The top priority for David Martin is a good sense of balance in the properties of Terra Group. Whether it’s a shopping complex, a two-story home, or a luxury development, the reality is that too much or too little will unsettle both residents and visitors alike. Quality design can be difficult to define for even the most detail-oriented person, but there are certain feelings that form, color, and texture can evoke on a visceral level. If the designers, architects, and construction crews are’t aware of the impression they’re creating, it will reflect in how the building is used and what people take away from the experience of interacting with it.
Martin points out that this doesn’t always mean perfect symmetry, though. Not every building or room will need to repeat the same patterns on top or bottom or from side to side. What Martin looks for has more to do with the overall effect of a space, and whether it challenges people’s perception of quality design without causing them to feel out of place.
Design principles often boil down to a question of scaling: how does each component measure up to its neighbors? This may refer to the size of the windows in a home or the measure of the front desk in a multi-residence development. David Martin may not be asked to approve every last measurement, but he has to partner with professionals who can estimate during planning before fine-tuning it all when it’s time to put the finishing touches on the properties. Martin priotizes originality and creativity as long as it doesn’t impinge on functionality.
The line of the roof, the color of the doors, the shape of the stones on the facades: Terra properties use emphasis as a way to call the viewer’s attention to a certain component. When a designer attempts to differentiate spaces in a building, it can be accomplished in a nearly infinite number of ways. For instance, a designer might stick a huge bay window in the center of a home or strategically place a bright red wall and surround it with stark white counterparts. David Martin prioritizes designs that incorporate emphasis without leaning on it too heavily. Emphasis can easily leave the wrong impression, causing people to recall only how a single part of the property didn’t mesh with the rest of the design patterns.
Speaking of patterns, these elements can end up being exceptionally important to how people relate to a building. For instance, if an office building has the same layout on every floor, then the cohesion can make people feel instantly more comfortable in the building. Or an apartment building might repeat a color scheme in different wings to help people orient themselves. David Martin says that you can see patterns in every building that the company has in its portfolio and that each one has a larger purpose behind the schema. Whether for organization or flow, repetition is a way for people to form a connection with a building — even if they only interact with it for a few minutes.
David Martin on Form, Function, and Flow
When people look at a building or stand in a room, what they’re absorbing in their eyeline is more than just furniture, walls, and materials. For the people who have to use the building every day, whether for work or for recreation, they quickly have to become accustomed to the quirks of each corner. They become intimate with everything from light fixtures to tiles to plumbing configurations. Nearly everyone knows what it’s like to stumble across a building that was clearly built by someone who would never have to live or work in it.
David Martin says that function has to be the top priority for every property at Terra Group. The reality is that design has to service people first and aesthetics later. The word timeless doesn’t just apply to buildings that can hold up to the natural elements. It refers to buildings that understand the needs of people. Historical homes can be just as relevant to residents today because the designers who originally conceived of them understood the fundamentals of how people would live in them.
Like every industry, change is inevitable when it comes to how people design and what people value in real estate. That being said, some firms will be able to survive and thrive even as the tide ebbs and flows. Terra Group Miami is helmed by a leader who has always wanted to be in his industry. From a young age, he saw the potential of how quality design can transform everything from a single property to the larger region of South Florida.