Dieter Greiner, Architect

Dieter Greiner is an architect who brings lessons in building efficiency to American developers--courtesy of German design and engineering.

Dieter Greiner

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor

Dieter Greiner is an architect who brings lessons in building efficiency to American developers—courtesy of German design and engineering. “American architects are able to design great looking buildings, but they are not as hands-on when it comes to construction as German architects,” says the German-trained architect who has spent 30 years practicing his craft on both sides of the Atlantic. German architects, suggests Greiner, may have a unique perspective when it comes to maximizing the usage of space in buildings.

Greiner’s nine-partner firm, Plan X Architecture Inc., dubbed as “the efficiency experts,” comes into high-rise or other types of multifamily projects to review the drawings. The aim is to uncover further achievable space efficiencies. “We are assisting the primary architect,” says Greiner. There are three main areas of focus under Plan X Architecture’s program: parking structures and parking lots, unit layouts and common areas.

Space inefficiencies in multifamily developments in the U.S. are most obvious in parking areas, says Greiner. With the help of specialized parking software, his firm is able to bump up the number of parking stalls by about 7 percent on average, or decrease the structure by 7 percent, without compromising traffic flow, he says. In some cases, underground parking levels can be eliminated altogether while maintaining the same number of parking spots. Or, increasing the number of parking stalls allows some projects to increase their unit counts under zoning laws.

Maximizing space efficiencies in apartment units can allow the developer to add dens or nooks, or even convert two-bedroom into three-bedroom apartments, says Greiner. On average, improvements are made in every other unit, he says. Also, saleable common areas can be increased on average by about 2 percent by shortening hallways, for example, or modifying the spaces around core elevator areas. “There are always a few feet being lost. We pick those up,” he says.

Greiner has consulted on about 300 multifamily projects in the U.S. in the past 10 years, he says. On average, a high-rise multifamily project can save $500,000 as a result of the design tweaks, he says. In addition, Greiner has consulted in Canada, Germany, Guatemala, Australia and Austria. In the U.S., he has worked in states including New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Washington, D.C., Arizona and South Carolina, he says. One of his latest U.S. projects is a three-tower high-rise in Irvine, Calif.

How did Greiner come to this line of work? Greiner moved to to the United States about 17 years ago. He said he noticed at the time that the buildings in San Francisco featured “great design,” but looked through the eyes of a German architect, “they were not as efficient as they could be.” As a result, he created a business centered on providing efficient design consultation. “We specialized and built our business from that,” he says.