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Claris’ Approach To Constructing Innovative And Stunning Car Dealerships

author By Phil Clark
July 31, 2023
Auto Dealerships

As the auto industry's brands continue to evolve, their image and guidelines adapt accordingly. In the design-build industry, new car dealership design ideas attract waves of new customers to the modernized atmosphere. The elevated construction standards motivate employees to sell quality vehicles that align with the dealership's image. While brand updates are often mandatory to match the global transformation, choosing a design-build firm capable of executing enforced standards while considering the client's best interests in space and workflow is crucial.

Over the past 31 years, Claris has proudly designed and built over 100 auto dealerships, a testament to our collaborative efforts and strong client relationships. Many of our clients own multiple dealerships under different brand names, such as Ford, BMW, Volvo, Subaru, Mazda, Mercedes, and more. With ever-changing brand demands, dealership owners rely on firms like ours to deliver corporate standards while considering their specific needs and ensuring a smooth transition without disrupting business operations. Whether a dealership requires a remodel, expansion, or brand updates, Claris has proven its ability to deliver innovative designs tailored to the end user while addressing owner and employee challenges. By adhering to enforced guidelines and incorporating the owner's perspective, our design-build approach provides the best of both worlds, allowing for successful dealership transformations.

3 Ways Claris Builds Designs and Builds Superior Car Dealerships

1. Integrating Innovation and Functionality

At Claris, an innovative process is developed, especially when different obstacles are presented on-site. We offer unique ideas that align with corporate imaging but with a modernized touch, maintaining industry standards while adding a bit of distinctiveness. Our design-build expertise and innovative approach allow us to deliver exceptional results tailored to our clients' specific needs and vision.

Take the White Plains Sales project completed in 2020, a multi-brand dealership in Elmsford, New York. To overcome spacing limitations in an urban setting, we leveraged our proactive logistical skills by creating a second floor inventory parking lot with ramp access, meeting all brand requirements while resolving space concerns.

Our innovative approach goes beyond functionality; we prioritize enhancing the customer experience as well. Design-build is at the core of our services, ensuring seamless communication and problem-solving throughout the project. This flexibility proves invaluable during brand update projects, where innovative changes can be designed and built in-house without time-consuming back-and-forth. Our collaborative efforts allow us to meet corporate and owner standards efficiently.

“The concept of design build was something we wanted, we wanted someone who said that they could design it, and someone who said they would build it for us. Not just someone who would design it and then pass it over to a builder…and when we went and met with Phil he said, ‘If I design it, I’ll build it’. And that had us sold and he delivered on his promise” - David Beylouni, CEO of Colonial Mazda

2. Seamless and Hassle-Free Brand Updates

Oftentimes, owners choose Claris to take on their car dealership design when their corporate office informs them of required brand updates. This can mean upgrading to higher standards, splitting one brand into two, or competing with the image that their competitors are delivering.

Claris has proven on multiple accounts that they can deliver an innovative design that is unique to the end user while simultaneously focusing on the challenges that the owner and employees need addressed. Oftentimes, the corporate brand requirements enhance levels of uncertainty, as the owners fear that the process will be shifted, and as a result, alter levels of productivity and organization. Although most dealerships of the same brand resemble one another, there is no denying that each has their own flow. As a developer, we aim to provide the best of both worlds, which include, adhering to the enforced guidelines with the owner’s best interest and points of view in mind.

This best of both world method is not possible unless a design-build approach is delivered.

“It was a much more seamless, fluid process having a design-build company to work with as opposed to a separate architect and a separate general contractor. Claris kept me involved the entire time.” – John Kaufman, CEO of Volvo Westport

3. Attention to Aesthetics

Our commitment to top-quality work ensures that we uphold these standards in every dealership we build. Some brands have unique elements specified in their guidelines, and one such example is Palisades Mazda, an in-house design in Nyack, New York, spanning 22,000 SF. We successfully incorporated a Mazda-specific design element known as a "Jewel Box," allowing cars to be displayed on lifts within the showroom. Despite the upgrades to meet new Mazda standards and the extensive interior and façade renovations, Claris ensured the business that they would remain open throughout the project.

4. Collaboration and Client Satisfaction

As reputable car dealership architects and builders, we believe an important aspect of every automotive construction project is collaboration and client satisfaction. It's essential to work with the client at every stage of the project to ensure that there is full transparency with on-site work.

  1. First Appointment: The initial meeting that sets the tone for where a project will be headed. Here we get all the insight into what the job will include. The client’s vision goes from their mind, into our hands.
  2. Conceptual Design: Based on our first appointment, we give the client a visual perspective of what their project can look like. We work collectively to change the design in any way the client communicates to us.
  3. Budgeting: We competitively bid out all portions of the work to subcontractors to guarantee the best price for our clients.
  4. Under Construction: All members of our team meet on a weekly basis, or more, to review project milestones and discuss any unforeseen circumstances should they arise.

From groundbreaking to grand opening, the Claris team believes in full transparency and communication every step of the way, ensuring the successful realization of the client's vision.


Transform Your Dealership With Claris DesignBuild

Is it time to upgrade your dealership? Allow Claris DesignBuild to design and construct a new cutting-edge space for you. We'll work within your timeline and budget to deliver a space you'll be proud of, attracting new customers to your dealership. Also, view our portfolio that showcases our successful automotive construction projects and the outcomes of our unique process. Give us a call, we’d be happy to learn more about your business venture.


In 1987, Claris Design•Build founder, Phil Clark, obtained an Architectural Engineering degree from Penn State. After graduation, he worked for various companies including Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Shankel Construction. “I always had the desire to own my own construction business, and when the construction company I was working for downsized, it provided me the opportunity and incentive to get started.” Phil founded Claris Design•Build in 1991 with the belief that the traditional design/bid/build process was adversarial and becoming obsolete. He fashioned Claris’ business model around a more transparent and team approach. Bringing architecture, engineering and construction expertise under the same roof allows a holistic, yet streamlined, approach to deliver the ultimate design/build experience.


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