Frame RE and lead architect Pilbrow & Partners used Delve to explore and validate design options for Imperial College London’s One Portal Way development.
In July 2020, Frame was selected by Imperial College London’s endowment fund to lead the £1BN ($1.4BN) regeneration of the One Portal Way development site in West London. Imperial College is one of the world’s preeminent research, science, and engineering universities, underpinned by a spirit of innovation, and boasts 14 Nobel laureates and three Fields Medallists. Ahead of the curve from project inception, both Imperial College and Frame were eager to explore new technologies in a quest to embrace the emerging innovations that have become available for the real estate industry in recent years. Frame places an emphasis on innovation and technology, and seeks to work collaboratively with local stakeholders, creating a vision that puts community at the heart of development. The team found the solution they were looking for in Delve.
One Portal Way
One Portal Way (1PW) is located in North Acton, a rapidly evolving low density neighborhood that sits at the southern gateway to London’s largest regeneration zone, the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). Only a five-minute walk from the nearest underground station, and just ten minutes from a new Crossrail station, 1PW is convenient to public transportation and within close proximity to a future high speed railway at Old Oak Common, positioning the site as one of the most convenient destinations in London. At 1PW, the largest and most central development parcel in the area, Frame and Imperial College saw an opportunity to tie together the surrounding new developments, build a significant public green space, and create a new center of gravity for the neighborhood.
The 1PW site also contained challenges. The site was surrounded by future high-density and tall developments, which might cast long shadows and create a less walkable streetscape. The development area itself was also home to an existing commercial tenant, making it a priority to ensure that redevelopment plans would lead to financial benefits superior to the value of the in-place lease.
At project onset, Frame and lead architect Pilbrow & Partners faced the familiar challenge that real estate development teams often experience in feasibility and planning stages: navigating numerous stakeholder interests spanning the developer, land owner, local municipality, and design team, each with seemingly competing opinions and priorities. With a goal of producing relevant design options that speak to the needs of both the client and the community, Frame sought an improved, tech-enabled process that allowed for master plan selection in a timely and efficient manner as a way to align project timelines and investor milestones.
The impetus for Frame was simple: The traditional real estate process has not changed in decades.
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For Frame, there was a conscious effort made at this phase of the project to ‘tread with care and humility as mistakes lead to very real human impacts’. For this reason, they decided to put their current proposal to the test with Delve to ensure that Imperial was moving ahead with the best performing plan with the highest likelihood for success —on both financial and quality of life metrics. While the typical timeline for refining a plan could take between 6-9 months, with Delve the team was able to test their benchmark against 6,000+ design options in a matter of weeks. The optimization process considered the following priority outcomes:
- Qualified Parks
- Daylight Difference
- Sun Hours on Ground
- Open Views
- Net Profit & Profit on Cost
Delve generated new design options for the site with three key dimensions of variance:
- Building Height: With an open question around how high to build, Delve looked at the best approach to building heights in relation to Open Views and Daylight Difference.
- Floor Plate Length: With floor plate length as a proxy for number of units per core, Delve looked at the impact of floor lengths on Sun Hours on Ground and Daylight Difference.
- Customized Score Weighting: With scoring a critical part of problem definition, Delve looked at the sensitivity of design options to different scoring methods for financials vs quality of life factors.
The results were clear. While there were alternative designs generated that yielded better performing financial outcomes, the proposed scheme was confirmed to have struck the right balance between both critical quality of life and financial objectives. As a result, Frame and Imperial will move ahead with confidence knowing every possible option has been considered. The 1PW plan is proven to be the best for very measurable reasons.
To Frame, Delve ‘felt like it was part of our responsibility to try it out and see how it works.’
Frame RE (‘Frame’) is a real estate platform that seeks to bring together some of the industry’s most talented individuals to work on major projects. Its team members have delivered and managed some of London and New York’s most significant real estate projects of the past 20 years, spanning investment, ground-up development through stabilized operations, mixed-use regeneration, and workspace and retail repositioning. Notable schemes include 22 Bishopsgate (the largest single office building in Europe), Wembley Park (the UK’s largest single multifamily site), and The Colorado (a 34-story multifamily building on NYC’s Upper East Side).
Alongside their work with Frame, members of the team are individually engaged in activities such as mentoring, teaching, advisory of prop-tech start ups, the development of new housing models and the provision of high-quality accommodation for the homeless.
This case study captures lessons from a paid engagement between the customer and the Delve team that was completed in Q2 2021.
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