What if keeping one architecture firm gave you access to dozens more? That’s the idea behind LUCID, an architecture and design collective that Lisa Pope Westerman, formerly Gensler from San Francisco and Rockwell Group from New York City, founded this year in Houston.
LUCID is a collective of architects and architectural firms who specialize in at least one of the following types of property: hospitality, retail, mixed-use buildings, high-rise apartment buildings and wellness projects. When clients keep LUCID as a designer or architect, they gain access to the firms and individual architects who are best suited for the job. LUCID currently consists of around 40 architects from various architecture and design offices, including PinPoint Collective from Chicago, Gin Design Group from Houston and Glen & Co. Architecture from New York.
“People have referred to us as ‘the WeWork of architecture’ or ‘the Uber of design’,” says Pope Westerman. “We believe this is the way the world will work in 10 years.”
Pope Westerman spoke to InnovationMap about the launch of LUCID, Houston’s unique design community, and how the architecture industry continues to innovate.
InnovationMap: When did you start planning LUCID?
Lisa Pope Westerman: I really thought about it in early 2018 and worked on it in mid-2018, making sure the first groups we started with were a good match. It was nothing but wonderful. Everyone is smarter than me and brings such a unique perspective to the group for a variety of reasons. Not everyone is an architect or an interior designer – the intent is to be really nimble and flexible. We bring many unique specialists with us. We have branding, graphic design, and a strategy group that is just amazing.
As a group, we not only want to be innovative, we also want to have innovations in all the different kinds of things [we offer]including our process. We believe that the world of design is going to be a lot more than just visual and that we really need to think about all of the senses, like touch and smell and [hearing]. Usually everything is visual and [the other senses] were secondary.
IM: How did LUCID find the architects and architectural offices that make up the collective?
LPW: The original of about 40 people are people I have worked with over the past 20 years. That’s how we started. I’ve been involved in basically every size company imaginable: from a solo exhibition to the largest design company in the world, Gensler. The intent of the model is to create something that has a parent brand that feels like a very big company and we are essentially one roof and inside of us are all of the other wonderful boutique specialty brands.
IM: Which architecture firms does LUCID work with?
LPW: Most of our affiliated companies are around a dozen people. We find this to be the right size of people who are highly specialized, super talented and able to keep this up [high] Quality level.
IM: Tell me about the LUCID business model.
LPW: So we make everything easier, and that’s how it works [LUCID] is compensated. So we essentially make it easier to get the companies to the customer, which is the business development aspect. We work together on the customer management side and are therefore still very involved with customers and projects. We all wear. We help manage everyone and every company [projects]. It’s a real collaboration.
People really believe that by connecting with LUCID, they will be able to take what they have done even further. It is important that the companies that want to be connected to LUCID are genuinely interested in it.
IM: Can the architecture firms that are part of LUCID still work outside of the LUCID collective?
LPW: All LUCID affiliated companies are still doing their own business. They didn’t merge to LUCID and then give up their brand. The intent is for us to celebrate the brands. We like diversity.
IM: LUCID is currently working on its first project. What information can you share?
LPW: It’s in the hospitality industry and it’s a restaurant, bar, function room and it’s for a private club outside of Houston. We started at the beginning of and we’ll be ready by the end of the year.
IM: Did LUCID start a fundraiser? Are you planning a fundraiser?
LPW: The front end is really just a shared passion between the companies and individuals that are connected to each other. In the long term, we are interested in even working with investors to develop new and different types of projects. There are some other companies out there but not many starting to do this … where [the design firm] works with investors and projects instead of just being hired as a designer for a project.
IM: How is the Houston design scene different from the design scenes around the world?
LPW: I think it’s an exciting time for Houston. Especially in our world of lifestyle design, it is the overarching aspect [theme]. We do everything for the lifestyle. In Houston, we are really at the height of this renaissance, just to achieve a higher level of appreciation for design. From a lifestyle standpoint, things have been draining away for some time.
IM: What is a basic project that you have been working on that taught you an important lesson about design?
LPW: In terms of my Houston project base, the ExxonMobil project was really impressive because of the size of the project and all of the different participants. We have worked with several other design firms in Houston and outside of Houston, and not only with design firms, but also with globally recognized artisans. Only on a global scale was the caliber of the customers astonishing. It was an amazing experience because of the scale and success. … A city was built.
Parts of this interview have been processed.