A corporate office park, art museum and new industrial complex were among the projects recognized this week for their innovation and ability to give back to the community.
Nearly 200 people attended the third annual Creative Thinkers Awards on Wednesday, held at Byron's South End and presented by the Carolinas chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate, an invitation-only group of real estate professionals.
The awards recognize those in real estate for their original thinking, commitment to creating a unique vision and ability to create "paradigm shifts," leading to others copying their approach or products, said event moderator Loren Kennedy of Kennedy Advisors in Raleigh.
The Bissell Cos.' chairman, H.C. Smoky Bissell, and president and CEO, Ned Curran, were honored for their efforts in developing Ballantyne Corporate Park in south Charlotte. The office park, which last year won the International Suburban Office Park of the Year award, has continued to grow and attract new tenants despite an economy that stalled most development.
Between second quarter 2008 and first quarter 2009, the developer added 800,000 square feet of office space, or about 1 percent of all the new office space built in the country, Bissell told the crowd. This year, the company expects to build 300,000 square feet, or 2 percent of all the new office space expected to come on the market, he said.
All of the space was built on a speculative basis, meaning there are no guaranteed tenants.
Curran said he was proud of the company's "commitment to investing the resources and willingness to take the chance to bring something the community will be proud of."
The Keith Corp. of Charlotte was honored for its work in developing the 719,812-square-foot East Coast distribution facility for Becton, Dickinson and Co., a medical technology company. The project, which can be expanded to more than 1.1 million square feet, is located on a 130-acre site in the Four Oaks Business Park, about 40 miles southeast of Raleigh.
John Kane of Kane Realty Corp. in Raleigh was recognized for creatively recycling North Hills Mall, the state's first two-level enclosed mall, into a mix of retail, offices, condos and hotel rooms, creating Raleigh's "Midtown district."
And Larry Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, was selected for his work in creating a new 127,000-square-foot home for the permanent collection. The exhibition space is highlighted by day-lit galleries flooded with natural light, and the exterior is surrounded by gardens and natural landscaping.
"Light is the enemy of art," Wheeler said. "And we wanted to invite as much natural light into the building than had ever been done."
The building has 360 skylights.
Its design includes protective elements such as ultraviolet filters, louvers and three layers of curtains. Sensors tell shades to drop when the sunlight is too bright.