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Many are the stories of communities that have resisted the “big boxing” of their townscapes, yet in smaller places that lack a guarantee of investment return, Walmart won’t even commit their resources. These places usually retain a vibrancy and regionalism lacking in communities that have been corporately branded. Meanwhile, Idaho Falls, Idaho, with all the familiar national franchises aligning both sides of the strip, looks a lot like Rapid City, South Dakota, or Bend, Oregon. Branding has a tremendous leveling/dehumanizing effect on the landscape.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

The American West is one of the world’s premier BIG LANDSCAPES. In Nevada you can drive for hours and see little more than military preserves or BLM managed spaces. In such landscapes small towns become not only the needed next fuel stop, but oases in a sea of apparent emptiness. Smaller communities, some in danger of slipping out of existence altogether, often have a much stronger claim on architectural identity than corporatized communities. These towns, like John Day, Oregon, or Grey Bull, Wyoming aren’t without a Dairy Queen or a Best Western, but they aren’t defined by corporations either. And Best Western does make an effort to cite a locale’s qualities in its architectural standardization, each franchise having a different look.

Small and Beautiful Aren't Always Compatible, But Nearly Always  

David Stairs, founder of Designers Without Borders and Design-Altruism-Project blog, writes about the big landscapes and small architectures...

Small and Beautiful Aren't Always Compatible, But Nearly Always  

David Stairs, founder of Designers Without Borders and Design-Altruism-Project blog, writes about the big landscapes and small architectures...

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