Texas Architect March/April 2013: Retail Redevelopment and Design
This issue explores the role of retail developmentand planning initiatives in the life of communitiesand city streets, as well as the importance ofthe experience and functionality of a retail space.
Re-Tailoring Retail by Aaron Seward Project Rackspace Corporate Headquarters Phase 3, Windcrest Client Rackspace Architect Studio 8 Architects Design team Milton Hime, AIA; Ethan Glass, AIA; Julie Petri; Jennifer Carter; Megan Moshier; Marisa Grande Photographer Lars Frazer Photography Project McAllen Public Library, McAllen Client City of McAllen Architect of Record Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects (BSG) Design Team Robert S. Simpson, AIA; John Gates, AIA; Danny Boultinghouse, AIA; Charlie Garcia III, AIA Library and Interior Design Consultants Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) Design Team Jack Poling, AIA; Steven Rothe; Leanne Larson; Jessica Harner Photographers Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects; Lara Swimmer Photography Project Montgomery Plaza, Fort Worth Client Marquis Group Architect Swaback Partners Design team John E. Sather, AIA; Joe Conk; Nadar Kavekeb; Katherine Pullen; Maika Winter Photographers Craig Smith Photography; Shands Photographics I n towns and cities across Texas — and the rest of the country for that matter — there’s no shortage of vacant buildings that were once home to bustling retail businesses. The socioeconomic reasons for these vacancies are too numerous to describe here, but the effect on local communities is a bit easier to sum up: dereliction. Whether it’s a big box retailer that moved out of one location into a bigger box down the highway, a mom-and-pop shop in an old downtown that closed its doors after its customers were lured away by the big box’s lower prices, or an entire shopping mall that withered on the vine due to competition from a newer and glitzier shopping mall, the neighborhoods that these businesses once served are left with an ulcerous patch of blight. Left alone, these abandoned structures soon give way to nature’s destructive powers, eventually attracting vandals and other antisocial characters, and as a consequence, property prices in the vicinity decline. One solution is demolition — and it’s not necessarily a bad one considering that a large portion of the building stock erected for retail uses, especially in the second half of the 20th century, was flimsy to begin with and has subsequently aged poorly. Another solution, if the bones of the building are good enough, is repurposing the structure for a different type of tenant, one that will keep up the building and, hopefully, become an asset, rather than a handicap, to the community. Of these two possibilities, there is a growing trend in the latter. Real estate developers, private companies, and even governments are taking an increasing interest in these derelict buildings. New users are drawn to former retail spaces by the savings in construction costs inherent in not building from the ground-up, and by these structure’s locations in populated areas along major commercial thoroughfares. In choosing to inhabit them, they are breathing new life into neglected stretches of the urban fabric. They are also presenting architects with a new series of design challenges. — Rackspace Hosting (an internet company in the old Windsor Park Mall in San Antonio), the McAllen Public Library (in an old Walmart), and Montgomery Plaza (a condominium in an old Montgomery Ward facility in Fort Worth) — offer a cross section of some of the design concerns and sociological effects of this phenomenon. The following three projects 50 Texas Architect 3/4 2013