Gap 2000 Stores – Across the USA
From Hawaii to Long Island, Washington to Alabama
In February, 1999 a “post-it” note appeared on my keyboard. Someone from Gap, Inc. had called to find out if Dykeman Architects would be interested in working with them. I knew that Gap used the same software – Sigma Design’s ARRIS – that we did, and that they had a number of stores in the United States. I called the 650-area code number to find out what was on Gap’s mind. What we didn’t have known at the time was that Gap was planning a major growth in the number of stores, and was looking for additional architectural resources.
After a series of back-and-forth visits, Gap invited two of us to come to San Bruno, California for training before trying us out with a store in Idaho. We made it past that first hurdle, and did better on the second one. In late fall, 1999 the “Gap Crew” traveled to California again, for the roll-out presentation to architects and engineers of the “Gap 2000” store design. Gap had a wonderful design concept and a well-organized set of prototypical drawings. Five of us toured a prototype store, built-out in a warehouse near Oakland, and made personal connections with more of the store design and construction group.
Our mission, if we should choose to accept it, would be to produce construction documents for stores all over the United States, with a four-week turn-around schedule, starting with a drafted layout from Gap’s store planners. We embraced the challenge. Our group grew to eight (a quarter of the office). We created documents for stores at 65 locations in 19 states; 20% of all of the Gap2000 stores built. Along the way, we saw other firms dropped off of Gap’s list – no longer interested, or too many problems with drawing quality. Meanwhile, Joel Niemi became a registered architect in 15 states, in order to secure project assignments.
As the Gap2000 concept was refined (constructability and budget issues played a role), we followed the changes in standard details, and created new details to share with other firms by way of Gap’s central office. A later change in the delivery process added a week to the document preparation time – we would now start with a sketchy layout from a Gap staff designer, and create the background layout for approval, before starting the construction documents.
Almost as quickly as Gap2000 started, it ramped down within two years. Available store locations were built, or landlords changed their mind on leases. The experience was very profitable for Dykeman – monetarially, by developing organizational skills for quick turnaround of projects, and by honing individuals’ skills.