Investigation and Development of Architectural Process through the Adaptive Reuse of "Big Box" Architecture.
Through the exploration of adaptive reuse of residual, no longer viable, commercial buildings in economically challenged urban zones develop an over arching guide and process upon which to base future architectural practice, solidifying design principles that have the potential to define specific approaches to architectural strategies and form making. The adaptive reuse of architecture, specifically "big box" architecture, in a form that captures and utilizes natural daylight, artificial light, and inspires the human spirit addresses many key issues prevalent in today’s practice and design discourses. The notions that the proper lighting of space effects its occupants is not new, but one that is very seldom maximized in the built environment that we occupy. In addition, the importance of recycling building products and materials is at a peak in the world today. The building industry is one of the largest contributors to the degradation of our planet. Adaptive reuse of buildings is quite simply the recycling of architecture.
In many cities across the country there is an ever increasing amount of urban sprawl in the form of commercial and retail development. Large retail chains are looking for the best opportunities to sell their goods and services. As the population of this country grows there is also an increase in the need for housing. Our suburban communities are quickly becoming large towns and cities of their own. There is an increase in needed infrastructure, tax base, and development. Unfortunately, it seems that much of this growth is leaving behind some of the original town centers and main streets. Small shopping centers at the corner are giving way to large "box" stores and vast seas of pavement. Buildings that housed banks, gas stations, and the local barber shop are being left behind, discarded shells that are no longer desirable by their tenants. Recent years have shown great demand and interest in the reuse, preservation, and development of long vacant urban areas of the inner city. Businesses, restaurants, and artists flock to these older buildings and areas to live, work, and play. This leaves a gap of vacated buildings and architecture between the urban center and the ever growing suburban development. They are being left behind.
The intent of my thesis will be to recycle, reform, and revisualize discarded big box architecture, specifically as it relates to the forgotten zones of our metropolitan areas that lie between the urban revitalization and suburban sprawl. The retail program of this building typology will also be recycled and reinvented.