Succession towards a Suburban Wilderness

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Succession toward a Suburban Wilderness

Peter Trio | 2017 Masters of Landscape Architecture | Professional Project | University of California – Berkeley
Interior Mall Arcade as envisioned by Victor Gruen, 1955
3 The Automobile Ecosystem 5 Succession of a Suburban Wilderness 7 Social Mixing 11 A Severed Relationship with Nature 13 The Thirdscape 15 Mayfair Mall 17 Sunvalley Shopping Center 21 Developmental Script 24 Ecological Script 30 Conclusion 35 Sources 39 Appendix 40
Table of Contents
- Mens & Furniture Store, Sunvalley Shopping Center, Concord CA

Evolution of an Automobile Ecosystem

In nearly every suburban community throughout the United States exists an ecosystem. The geology below this ecosystem comprises upon layers of concrete, gravel and asphalt, enabling the proliferation of its keystone species, the automobile.

The automobile ecosystem was composed for the monoculture of automobiles it serves. Life functions harmoniously for those who fit between the margins of its composition. This ecosystem has defined a generation, as it contains all the necessities of a suburban lifestyle within the confines of a single 75 acre site.

In 1950, this new ecosystem was seeded in a Minnesota suburb, in a matter of decades it would spread across the United States, taking root in thousands of suburban communities made viable from the network of interstates and highways.

This ecosystem is that of the Indoor Shopping Mall.

The automobile is evolving, which means the ecosystem in which it thrives must also evolve. In a new report, it is predicted that car ownership could drop 80% by 2030 (Arbib & Seba, 2017). Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, biking, and public transportation have enabled a diversity of alternatives to the

personal automobile. This evolution will be further augmented with the adaption of autonomous vehicles.

Currently in the United States there are four parking spaces for every single car

(Dunham-Jones & Williamson, 2011)

Shopping mall parking lots are typically sized for the one day out of the year, Black Friday. This past year, #BlackFridayParking went viral, as users across the country uploaded their photos of half-full parking lots (Quednau, Rachel 2016).

Inside this sea of asphalt parking sits an island of retail, accessible only by automobile. Attempting to reach this island by foot is a daunting task as the pedestrian must maneuver a landscape optimized for the automobile.

In order to sustain life, stores within the shopping mall are constantly evolving, merging, and reproducing (Chung et. all.). These stores survive on customers. The ritual begins by means of the store alluring their victims in with a colorful display, tempting character, smell or sex appeal. Next commences a dance between the store and

the victim. The victim often struggles, attempting to justify the necessity of the purchase. Often times the victim succumbs to the temptations of the purchase and is transformed from victim to willing customer.

For decades this new wilderness would transform the way in which people would commerce. Consumerism would become a new form of recreation. The time has now come for this wilderness to evolve, and with that change comes opportunity.

It was within the wilderness of the shopping mall, Americans would be transformed into the fuel of capitalism.

Rolling Acres Mall. Akron, Ohio


Succession of a Suburban Wilderness

A fire will blaze through a forest in a matter of minutes, destroying what has grown for centuries. Seemingly catastrophic, ecologists agree it is a critical function of a process known as ecological succession. The disturbance creates fertile ground and clears the way for new growth. Succession of the suburban shopping mall is necessary in the same light. In 2017, three-thousand stores across the United States have announced their pending closure (Timmermann, 2017). Hundreds of these are anchors such as Macys, JC Penny and Sears. The disturbance can be credited to e-commerce giant, Amazon.

300 shopping malls across the country will be losing an anchor department store in 2017 (Peterson,


A new future must be envisioned that allows these shopping malls to re-orient towards a new direction. The closing of the department store is often described as an early warning sign of a disease. Without a cure to the closings, the disease will spread, eventually killing off the mall before spreading to the surrounding community. In Augusta Georgia, fifteen years after the Regency Mall

closed, the majority of the homes across the street were also found vacant (Leinberger 2008). The death of a shopping mall can signal the death of a community if appropriate measures are not taken.

The cause of death for many shopping malls can not be solely attributed to the effects of e-commerce alone, but also due to the inability for shopping malls to cater to an evolving demographic of users. Forces from central urban cities such as foreclosure rates and gentrification are effecting outer ring suburbs by a migration of new residents (Leinberger 2008). This has created social tension as these communities attempt to acclimate to an evolving culture (Krasny 2017).

On another trajectory, suburban communities are attempting to breath new life into existing retail development through the invention of “lifestyle centers”. These fauxe-European styled retail centers attempt to give a center to a center-less community and take the concept of the indoor shopping mall and adapt it to a storefront condition. The development of these lifesyle centers might be a desperate attempt to foster what sociologist Ray Oldenburg describes as “Third Place”(where first place is that of the home and domesticity, and the second place is that of work and social hierarchy).

Third Place is described as the critical place of community, where informal social building can occur independent from social class or hierarchy (Oldenburg, 2001). Traditionally, these places have been the town square, church basements, barber shops, bars, cafes, or the public park. It is these third places in which were envisioned as integral parts of the suburban shopping mall and are again being envisioned as a central function of these lifestyle centers.

The ability for these places to set aside their private interest and serve the community might prove difficult. In order to understand the social complexity of malls, two case studies were investigated for a comparison in contrasting contexts. Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord California, and Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, WI.

“It is our belief that there is much need for actual shopping centers – market places that are also centers of community and cultural activity”
(Victor Gruen, Father of the Indoor Shopping Mall 1948)
$20,000 2010 Household Income Sunvalley Shopping Center Tree Canopy $45,000 $125,000 0 500’ 1,000’ 4 miles
Income Disparity Concord California

Wauwatosa Wisconsin Political Polarity Mayfair Mall

0 500’ 1,000’
2012 Presidential Election Tree Canopy Republican Democrat 4 miles

Black Lives Matter March Occurring at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, WI


Social Mixing

The analysis on the previous spread demonstrates two shopping malls ability to serve as a social hinge between two distinct communities.

can sit within critical demographic thresholds. As many indoor shopping malls have been designed to serve an ideal demographic, (Dunham-Jones & Williamson, 2011), they will be forced to evolve as their communities surrounding them evolve.

Within the first-ring-suburb of Wauwatosa

Wisconsin, the Mayfair Mall can be found within a political threshold between the African American, low income, Northside of Milwaukee, and affluent, white ,republican, second-ring-suburb of Brookfield. A mix of users from both groups can be found within the walls of this mall, providing an unlikely mixing ground for the two communities. Often times these social hinges will become places of protest, and civic expression (Holpuch, 2015). In the case of Mayfair Mall, a Black Lives Matter March occurred in 2016. As a peaceful march, the shopping mall became a platform for communicating viewpoints and observing realities untainted by the news.

Additionally the Sunvalley Shopping Center (mapped on the previous page) acts as a social hinge between communities of different incomes. As seen by these two case studies, shopping malls

Two trends occurring in shopping malls throughout the country are working in opposition of diversifying access, the first is an effort to push bus stops as far from the mall entrances as possible and the second is the checking of identification at mall entrances to ensure minors unaccompanied by an adult are not permitted (Quednau, Rachel, 2016 Kayleen, 2010).

Recent social expressions, such as the BLM protests and teenage flash mobs (Anderson, 2011) occurring in shopping malls provide evidence of the need for a civic platform often lacking in our suburban communities. As shopping malls are privately owned and managed, they are not equipped to deal with the workings of a

civic demonstration. Any suburban community experiencing protest which interferes with the ability for the private sector to operate freely must evaluate their offerings to provide such demonstration. In the instance the shopping mall is the best suited place for civic expression (due to the lack of a public square), a public-private partnership could be formed where a portion of the mall is controlled by the public sector ensuring regulation is provided unbiased by private sector interest.

Sociologist Elijah Anderson describes the Cosmopolitan Canopy as a place where unlikely strangers can interact and observe one another up close. He describes how exposure to diversity alters a persons reference point, ultimately fostering a greater appreciation of difference (Anderson, 2011). Many suburban shopping malls are cosmopolitan canopies, and should continue to be into the future.

It will be critical for malls to ensure a diversity of access is provided to all users of all groups.
12 A Rules & Regulations Sign in the Lime Ridge Open Space Preserve, Concord CA

A Severed Relationship with Nature

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, describes the era we now live relative to our relationship with nature as, The Third Frontier:



children living in a world where the Internet has replaced the woods. (Louv, 2008, pp. 15–26)

Louv describes how “Nature Deficiency Disorder” (NDD) has become prevalent throughout our nation, affecting all ages, races, and economic brackets. Although suburban sprawl has brought us to the edges of wilderness more than other urbanized nations, our relationship has never been more strained. Louv describes how cities comply with all laws of nature. Following the migration to the suburbs the available space was expansive, yet striped of its peace inducing elements. Louv argues that sprawl did not guarantee space. Many American suburbs offer fewer opportunities for natural engagement than the centers of old European industrial cities (Louv, 2008, p. 25). After few years of abandonment, these industrial wastelands will grow into a rich urban wilderness with no human intervention. Technology is often blamed for the current generations attachment to screens versus the outdoors. Instead Louv has

Supporting this view, tree houses are now considered a fire hazard, makeshift dams cause flooding, kids are not allowed to climb the trees or run through rivers in most suburban communities. Homeowner associations have been particularly notorious for eliminating any potential natural engagement out of their residential environs (Louv, 2008). A rigorous policy revamping must be undertaken by municipalities to loosen restrictions on the usage of green space or establish spaces where activities are allowed to re-captivate a lost audience.

Several European writers have defined environments that might hold a cure to NDD, defined as Third and Fourth Nature (Clemont, Kowarik & Körner, 2005) .

In the abandoned urban industrial sites across the Midwest and Europe, ruderal vegetation

has reclaimed much of the landscape that was once a stage for industrial production. This urban wilderness has attracted children to live unrestricted in the same way that many of the plants grow free of human constraint. Activities that are normally restricted in most parks — such as building forts, custom skate parks, running dogs, cycling, collecting flowers and berries — are a common find in these areas (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). Some of these abandoned industrial sites have been recognized for their social capital and been turned into a new type of public landscape. Arguments have been made that the formalization of these landscapes into parks take away the essence (of freedom) that had granted them the initial value. Several German and French precedents, however, maintained the roughness of aesthetic and autonomy in program, while formalizing access and reducing negative social behaviors. (see precedents in Appendix G)

theory: we are to blame for our children’s distance from nature through the “Criminalization of Natural Play” (Louv, 2008, p. 27)

The Thirdscape

French landscape architect Gilles Clément uses the term “Third Nature” to describe “the space left over by man to landscape evolution - to nature alone” (Clément, Gilles, 2005). This model defines “First Nature” as that of pristine wilderness; “Second Nature” as that of fields and gardens rendered thus by human intention and intervention; while “Third Nature” is ruderal, reclaiming, and unforgiving. It could be argued First Nature no longer exists despite man’s best attempt to preserve swaths of land into preserves seemingly untainted by the human. Carbon release, cloud seeding, ozone depletion and the human aided transfer of species has now effected nearly every corner of our globe (Cronon, 1996). If this is true, it would mean Third Nature must provide the services in which First Nature has provided in the past. In Europe, there is a wider acceptance of Third Nature over First Nature (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). Europeans are more likely to utilize the nature down the street as a form of recreation rather than requiring a trip across the state to a national park.

Providing wild landscape that allow for activities typically restricted by parks, might also set the stage for a new type of Third Place. The spontaneity of Third Nature has a striking resemblance to that of Third Place. The enabling of Third Nature as a means to encourage Third Place will be defined as a new typology — the Thirdscape.

The association between free-willed landscapes and free-willed places has recently been investigated. It has been found that nature and culture have become separated largely because of man’s need to control nature (Pretty Jules et al., 2009) and possibly, man’s need to control man. Research has shown that many of the world’s core areas of biodiversity are also important for cultural diversity, represented by the coexistence of ethnic groups and plant communities (Pretty Jules et al., 2009, p. 102).

This successional relationship — whereby the autonomy of cultural succession is an effect of the autonomy of natural succession — will provide the foundation for linking Third Nature with Third Place. It should be stressed that this fusion of thirds is not an additive process, but rather a successional process whose effectiveness will depend largely on the adaption of adjacent cultures and local ecologies over a period of time.

The act of scripting Thirdscapes might seem to contradict the nature of its own description. As we have evolved into a society dependent on socially constructed ques, a form of guidance will be necessary to increase the utility of these spaces, provide access, and give subtle direction to an otherwise alienated population. The script will also become a method for inducing succession for without encouragement and structure, the duration between stages would be substantially longer.

(Pretty Jules et al., 2009).

If the need to control nature is relinquished, Third Nature emerges. If the need to control humans is relinquished, Third Place might emerge. For this hypothesis to be proven true a variety of social and cultural factors will have to be taken into account and scripted in away that facilitates the Thirdscape.

Mediums conducive to unstructured activities in Thirdscapes are sticks, leaf piles, mounds of dirt, sand, water, climbing walls, mounds of snow, and ice should be carefully considered as part of the script (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). Campfires, dog runs, picnic areas, and other forms of loose programing for a variety of ages should also be considered. The thirdscape can not be designed. The thirdscape can be anticipated. The thirdscape can be envisioned. The thirdscape can be allowed.

Allowing for cultural and ecological diversity by providing physical spaces that facilitate both can foster variety and contrast on an aesthetic level, as well as offer resilience on both ecological and social levels

The goal of this exploration is to build a thesis and render the potential of the Thirdscape within the context of the suburban shopping mall.

The problems being addressed are the lack of a Third Place and the rise of NDD in suburbia.

Two malls will be rendered in this exploration. Mayfair Mall in suburban Wisconsin was selected due to its harsh winter climate and its strained relationship with the city of Wauwatosa. Sunvalley Shopping Center was selected due to its immense development pressure of the San Francisco Bay area and its Mediterranean climate. Analysis was carried out in order to compare and contrast each mall while a rigorous scripting of the Thirdscape was implemented for the Sunvalley Shopping Center.

Obstacles considered throughout this investigation are: infrastructural opportunities and constraints, water presence/ availability, adjacent cultural ecologies, variations in climate, fire hazard, crime, safety, aesthetics and development pressures. The methods used in this investigation were, emerging automobile and retail trends, literature reviews, precedents, and site observation.

Diagram combining Gilles Clément “Nature” with Ray Oldenburg’s “Place”

Mayfair Mall Wauwatosa Wisconsin

Land Value:$6/SF Density: 5.6 People/Acre Projected Population 106% by 2040

Climate: Hot Humid Summers Cold Winters Precipitation: 34” Rain/ Year 43” Snow/Year

0 500’ 1,000’

Mayfair Mall, was built in the Milwaukee Suburb of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin in 1958. Milwaukee sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and has recently been experiencing an economic renaissance by repositioning itself from an industrial past. Wauwatosa is a first ring suburb bordering Milwaukee to the West. Politically it is a fairly liberal suburb in which transitions to its more conservative neighbor to the west (as seen on p.9). An unprogramed greenbelt runs adjacent to the mall following the Menominee River floodplain but remains disconnected from the mall and residents west of the river, due to a country club. Upon its opening as one of the largest malls in the country, Mayfair Mall contained Third Places such as a post office, park, and ice skating rink. Many of its residents recall:

Mayfair mall provided a retreat from the harsh winters.

Though surviving the recent wave of announced retail closures, the mall is apparently struggling. Currently the mall is in court with the city of Wauwatosa as it argues the city is overcharging for property tax and demands to be refunded millions of dollars. Mayfair Mall states that Macys sales have dropped $10 million dollars in the past six years matching the revenue of the Apple Store which operates a much smaller footprint in the central arcade (Henry, 2017).

If Macys is no longer paying the bills, then might it

be time to put that space to better use.

Per the city plan, Wauwatosa is seeking a Forest Education Center, living classrooms and a new public park (Ledesma & Didier, 2008). A K-12 school can be found a few blocks away from Mayfair down Center Street. The mall sits in between the schools and the Menominee River Greenway and could serve as the portal providing educational and recreation activities along the Menominee River.

Given a weak market demand, the Thirdscape in Wauwatosa may offer a greater amount of space dedicated to landscape, though with this increased space also comes a smaller budget towards execution of the script. Without parallel development, a stream of funding to execute the script would not exist. As there are two empty midrise office towers on the site an initial inquiry would be exploring adaptive reuse of those structures in parallel with a landscape strategy.

Wauwatosa is subject to extreme flooding, and containing 75 acres of impervious surface adjacent to the Menomonee River, the mall is not helping the problem. Any opportunities to reduce the property’s effect of storm surge may provide a reduction in taxes the property pays the city for stormwater fees, additionally the allowance of new activities in a winter landscape could provide new activation during the long winter months.


Experiencing Mayfair Mall in a winter condition gives a sense of the expanse of this site. Several large snow-moving machinery are constantly staged on site. The office towers reflect a watercolor mural of the current sky conditions while they sit empty and unused. Macys appears as a bunker in the distant landscape, seemingly un-walkable by foot.

In order to activate this cold barren landscape the moving of snow could be formed into large piles, conducive for Kind of the Hill. The eroding of asphalt to daylight a creek could bring more intrigue to the site and allow for the establishment of pioneer species, while responsibly managing stormwater during the spring and summer months.

Out of succession of this landscape could emerge a new wilderness. This wilderness would be defined by woody vegetation along the daylit creeks with a understory of aggressive plants that continue to ware-away at the asphalt. Trails might be established which allow for a network of skiing, snowshoeing and winter-biking. The Macys could be repurposed into a suburban foresty center that studies the habitat along the adjacent Menomonee River Valley. When the market warms, residential development might occur around the perimeter of the Mall providing stewards of this suburban landscape.

18 2017 2020

Mayfair Mall Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

MACYS MACYS SEARS 100 Year Flood Zone 200 Year Flood Zone Iron Horse Trail 0 500’
Concord California
People/Acre Projected Population 135%
Wet Warm Winters Precipitation:
Year 0 500’ 1,000’
Sunvalley Shopping Center
Climate: Hot Dry Summers
17” Rain/

Sunvalley Shopping Center, was built in suburban Concord, California in 1967. Concord is part of the greater San Francisco Bay region and sits just south of the estuary where the SacramentoSan Joaquin River Delta meets the San Francisco Bay. The mall sits between the quiet bedroomcommunity of Pleasant Hill and rapidly developing city of Concord. Recognizing a need for a tax base to support its population growth in the sixties, Concord obtained the land between the two cities. Like most suburban shopping centers, Sunvalley is linked to Interstate Highway 680, which supports the region’s automobile oriented customers while creating a barrier for walkability, biking, and public transportation. Upon its opening Sunvalley was applauded as the first air-conditioned mall in the World providing a retreat from the hot summer days. In a local newspaper article announcing the grand opening , the architect introduced the mall in stating:

Today the mall remains to survive though among signs of change. A car rental service can be found storing 8 stretch limousine in the corner of an un-utilized parking lot, while an entire level of a parking deck has been leased to a local car dealership for storing overstock (see image on right). In the mall an Uber kiosk can be found where a recruiter is registering on average 15 drivers per day. The mall no longer serves the affluent population of Pleasant Hill just across the street though the effects of this immense plot of impervious land is felt in the form of flooded basements during flooding events.

The mall sits on 75 acres of asphalt, parking decks and rooftops which channel water into a storm sewer (shown in dashed white line) eventually converging with Grayson Creek. As seen in the analysis to the left, the creek contains a wide floodplain in which cause regular flooding to many of the residents. Unknowingly many of these residents do not make the association of the giant shopping mall next door to the regular flooding they experience.

Today the city of Concord continues a rampant growth, while the Sunvalley Shopping Center remains stagnant caught in an era where air conditioning was enough to engage the community.

Open space preserves on ridges which surround the perimeter of the developed valley. These open spaces will serve as a source of annual grassland ecology that will be used as the pallet for waterlimited portions of the site. Also several schools and a residential community may provide as a source of activity if access is properly provided.

See additional context photos in Appendix H

“Sunvalley was designed to spend the day, It’s a place where you can bring the family without worrying about the children getting bored, or hot and tired… if we offer the public something nice, they will take care of it, take pride in it”
– Architect Avner Naggar, 1967

2017 Existing

Extensive System of Parking Central Arcade Contained

Disconnect of adjacent Cultasacs

2020 Pioneers

ETA to Downtown Concord/ BART:

Daylighting of Storm Drains Bridging Connections to Community Redevelopment of Parking Decks into Studio Apartments Micro Retail

22 100 Year Flood Zone Diablo Valley College College Park High School Valley View Middle School Willows Shopping Center Iron Horse Trail JC PENNY MACYS MACYS SEARS Zone
Year Flood Zone Iron Horse Trail Willows Shopping Center Iron Horse Trail
50 minute walk
15 minute bike
bus ride 0 500’ 1,000’
10 minute drive 30 minute
0 500’ 1,000’
23 100 Year Flood Zone Diablo Valley College College Park High School Valley View Middle School Willows Shopping Center Iron Horse Trail ETA to Downtown Concord/ BART: 40 minute walk 10 minute bike 12 minute drive 20 minute bus ride 0 500’ 1,000’ 2060 Settlers Public Plazas Path Network New Construction Condos around Perimeter New Construction Retail & Office Space
$20,000 2010 Household Income Tree Canopy $45,000 $125,000 0 500’ 1,000’ 4 miles 2012 Presidential Election Tree Canopy Republican Democrat 0 500’ 1,000’ 4 miles FIRST NATURE WILDERNESS SECOND NATURE GARDENS THIRD NATURE RUDERAL THIRD NATURE RIPARIAN THIRD NATURE GRASSL AND FIRST PL ACE HOME SECOND PL ACE THIRD PL ACE COMMUNIT Y AUTOMOBILE THE BUS AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES 0 500’ 1,000’
Sunvalley Shopping Center

Developmental Script

As malls struggle to maintain customers, the immediate phase of the development script will be to diversity access. Access for biking, pedestrians, and public transportation should be established in equal emphasis to existing automobile infrastructure. This will not only set the foundation for the future stages of the script, but will continue to support the surviving retail by tapping into a larger pool of potential customers.

Immediate moves, such as pulling the bus stop to the mall entrance and painting larger pedestrian and bike lanes from the surrounding sidewalks can be implemented with minimal costs. A parallel initiative from the city should entail, ensuring that the surrounding residential community is capable of reaching the mall by foot as conveniently as they may currently be able to drive. As many

suburban residential communities are designed with culdesacs, new public paths may have to be reclaimed between yards attempting to reconnect the pedestrian grid of the city.

If the mall is uncertain it can deal with the resulting social complexities from the diversifying of access, it may want to consider selling a portion of the land back to the city to be managed as public space while it maintains the management and operation of the retail space. The central arcade, and parking lots might be better managed in the public realm regarding crime, safety, and unbiased control of civic expression.

Upon the diversification of access, the pioneer stage of development would occur. In order to bring a new stream of income for the mall owner

and increase the tax base to support further execution of the script, development should occur in-tandem to the landscape interventions.

In the case of the Sunvalley Shopping Center, this adaptive reuse of the parking decks might be retrofitted to studios geared towards an artist community. This would provide supply for the immediate demand of artist displacement occurring in central cities like Oakland and San Francisco. Bringing young artists to Concord might breath new life and energy into the community. The parking lots, and blank facades of the mall could become their blank canvas as they would be encouraged to display their art installations among the eroding suburban infrastructure. Abandoned big boxes might be retrofitted to allow for small pocket retail or incubator spaces to introduce a new form of


retail in addition to the interior mall.

As the landscape, artists, and small businesses mature, the site would began to prepare for the Settler Stage. It is expected that over the course of ten-fifteen years, capital would have been built to demolish some of the cheaply built big boxes and ready for new construction. The debris could be landfilled on site with the creation of landfilllandforms. These landforms would give topographic variety to the flat site, and in the case of Concord, could provide for ideal annual grassland habitat that is allowed to go dormant in the dry summer months. Biking paths and trails might be formed giving vantage points on top of these mounds. They would also provide contrast to the thriving riparian valleys created through the daylighting.

In the place of the recently demolished big-box stores, would be new construction providing new

retail and office spaces for a greater degree of mature businesses. Above these would be market rate residential apartments that would continue to generate additional revenue to the owner. Development around the perimeter might be condominiums which have private backyards with established landscapes that have a gradient from private to the public thirdscape.

Larger community programing might occur at this phase with a community center, satellite school and public squares.

For a detailed description on social factors such as aesthetics, crime and safety see Appendix F


Erosion of the Asphalt

Asphalt will be eroded

Asphalt Pollutants


Developmental Script

• Oil

• Organic Compounds

• Petroleum Hydrocarbons

• VOCs

Asphalt parking lots contain a range of pollutants that can be detromental to life, expecially when disrupted through the ripping of asphalt. Bioremediation will be a critical prerequsite to the success of revitalization. Petroleium Compounds can be found both within the composition of asphalt as well as on the surface from leaking gas and oil from parked automobiles. The majority of these hydrocarbans can be remideated through microbial activity, plant process, exposure to wind and sun, and volatization. (Kennen & Kirkwood, 2015)

The Pioneers

The Anchors Collapse

In 2017 over 300 department stores are slated to close. This will effect around 25% of the indoor shopping centers around America

Embrace Pioneer Residents

uber/ lyft dropoff zones

rideshare programing

bus stop upgrades

redefine parking

retrofit parking decks to studios ($)

anchors to micro retail incubators

daylight storm sewers

The Automobile

2035 Landform Landfill

If the market demands higher density and the big-box buildings have reached their lifespan, they can be deconstructed. Organic materials to be ground up and amaneded on site for use on vegetated roofs and soil. Contaminated products will be landfilled on site creating landforms further contributing to the unstructured recreation potential of the site.

The Settlers

Landscape Driven Development

Mixed-use new construction will occur in the footprint of the existing big-box stores in order to maintain established vegetation and let it be a driver in the marketing schematic for new development.

Walk Bike

Autonomous Vehicles

Uber Lyft Ridshare

Public Transportation


2017 Existing

Pine Trees align boulevard. Eucalyptus along interstate

2020 Pioneer Species

Opportunistic Plants in Parking Lots Annual Grasslands on Parking Deck

0 500’ 1,000’

2060 Settlers

Riparian Habitat in Creeks utilization of greywater Annual Grasslands on Landfill Landforms and on Greenroofs Conversion from Third to Second Nature with Dwellings

$20,000 2010 Household Income Tree Canopy $45,000 $125,000 0 500’ 1,000’ 4 miles 2012
Presidential Election Tree Canopy

Ecological Script

In order to compose the ecological script of a Thirdscape, a rigorous analysis of adjacent cultural ecologies (plant species of cultural significance) should be documented in addition to identifying infrastructural constraints and opportunities (such as daylighting storm drains). For a detailed description on composing the ecological scripts see Appendix A.

The initial stage of the ecological script entails the erosion of infrastructure. The areas of initial erosion should be considered in conjunction with the diversifying of access and opportunities for daylighting. These areas of erosion could be thought of as the first areas of re-wilding and might best be suited near areas of high pedestrian activity. This would lead to the greatest likelihood of humannature engagement and offer a continuation of

stimuli from the indoor mall arcade into the outdoor landscape. In the case of the Sunvalley Shopping Center the areas adjacent to the mall were selected as the initial erosion area. The erosion of the asphalt and any substrate layers would begin with being cut, punched and broken by a tool. It then would be ripped and peeled up and in some cases stacked adjacent to the opening. After the initial erosion has taken place, the soils would benefit from a certain degree of amendment with organics and tossed due to years of compaction. If the erosion budget is limited, the cuts can be left to the opportunistic species to do the labor, though increasing the time of succession into the settler phase.

After the initial erosion of infrastructure has occurred the pioneer stage would commence. In parallel to the developmental script calling for artists to

dwell, the ecological script will provide habitat for pioneer plant species. Considered weeds by many, these species would provide immediate coverage on disturbed soils. These opportunistic species will be critical for the creation of biomass, nitrogen fixing, and remediation of contaminants. Controlled seasonal burns would expedite the process of succession as well as reduce the fire risk during the dry season.

Art installations by the residents would also be encouraged during the pioneer phase, which might compliment the ruderal vegetation of this early stage. Until the landscape has had a chance to mature to more robust forms of vegetation, engagement with the landscape would rely more on the artwork. As untraditional human interaction (Trampling from children, unleashed dogs, fort


building, and campfires) is encouraged in the Thirdscape, succession would bring to light patterns otherwise illegible in traditional landscapes. These disturbances — which exist in even the most robustly designed landscapes — are often detrimental to the aesthetic intent of the project. In the Thirdscape, by contrast, these disturbances are meant to inform the aesthetics of the project and, consequently, allow organic patterns to serve as an aesthetic while telling a story.

With establishment of biomass and organics, succession will occur and a greater degree of woody vegetation will begin to establish. As parking demands change additional asphalt can continue to be eroded by the tool, otherwise left to the work of intrusive species. These aggressive plants are notorious for their abilities to disturb hardscapes due to the nature of their root systems (see appendix C for list of intrusive species).

With succession, a canopy is expected to emerge 10-15 years after implementation. The utilization of on site greywater would increase specie potential and increase the rate of succession. Ultimately the rate at which the script is carried out is dependent on the amount of investment and intervention. Once a canopy appears a substantial micro-climate would exist providing a cool retreat from Concord’s hot dry summers, in the same way Sunvalley Shopping Center provided retreat as the nations first air conditioned mall.

The existence of a micro-climate would be a good indicator that the site is ready to transition to the settler phase of development.

In parallel to the development of condo-oriented development, a large portion of the landscape would be partitioned off for new construction into

townhouses which are able to contain a portion of their backyards as already matured landscape. The development of condos would occur around the perimeter of the mall in the last remaining parking lots, while much of the established vegetation would remain. An association would be formed to oversee appropriate gradient between public and private landscapes are appropriately maintained. In many places such as Spreewald Germany, and Birchwood England successful public/private landscape gradients can be found were there is a certain amount of allowance for personal control beyond the limits of ones property as long as it remains publicly accessible (Kowarik & Körner, 2005)


Ecological Script

The Pioneers


In 2017 over 300 department stores are slated to close. This will effect around 25% of the indoor shopping centers around America

Embrace Pioneer Species.

Opportunistic Plants will be ecouraged in the initial phase of succession for multiple reasons.

1. They will provide for immediate coverage

2. They will enliven the soil biology leading to rhizodegredation as a method for bioremediation of petrolium pollutants of asphalt

3. They will produce biomass contributing to the organic matter of the soil allowing for a greater potential in plant pallet

Erosion of the Asphalt


Asphalt Pollutants

• Oil

• Organic Compounds

• Petroleum Hydrocarbons

• VOCs


Asphalt parking lots contain a range of pollutants that can be detromental to life, expecially when disrupted through the ripping of asphalt. Bioremediation will be a critical prerequsite to the success of revitalization. Petroleium Compounds can be found both within the composition of asphalt as well as on the surface from leaking gas and oil from parked automobiles. The majority of these hydrocarbans can be remideated through microbial activity, plant process, exposure to wind and sun, and volatization. (Kennen & Kirkwood, 2015)

The Pioneers

The Anchors Collapse

In 2017 over 300 department stores are slated to close. This will effect around 25% of the indoor shopping centers around America

Embrace Pioneer Residents

2017 2018 2017 2017 CUT PEEL STACK
will be eroded
zones rideshare programing bus stop upgrades redefine parking
lyft dropoff
Weed Forbiden

Species. Plant Intrusives

The Settlers

2035 Landform Landfill

If the market demands higher density and the big-box buildings have reached their lifespan, they can be deconstructed. Organic materials to be ground up and amaneded

The Settlers

Landscape Driven Development

Mixed-use new construction will occur in the footprint of the existing big-box stores in order to maintain established vegetation and let it be a driver in the marketing schematic for new development.

Phoenix canariensis Washingtonnia robusta Agave azul Juglans californica Opuntia basilaris


As the ecosystem of the automobile is homogeneous across the United States, disturbances in the automobile and retail industry will allow for new opportunities to emerge in the landscape.

It is those suburban communities, regional mall owners, and municipalities who recognize the opportunity and work towards a vision, that will come out more economically, socially and ecologically resilient in ever changing climate.

The Thirdscape is meant to be one method, not to be replicated, but adapted to the cultural, economic and climatic conditions of any automobile ecosystem such as the indoor shopping mall. Successful implementation of the Thirdscape, will allow rich ecosystems to emerge out of any banal suburbanscape. No longer will the landscape of a Minnesota Shopping Mall be so similar to that of a California Mall.



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Anderson, E. (2011). The cosmopolitan canopy : race and civility in everyday life. New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Co., 2012, c2011.

Carlson, A. (2000). Aesthetics and the environment : the appreciation of nature, art and architecture. London ; New York : Routledge, 2000.

Chung, C. J., Inaba, J., Koolhaas, R., & Leong, S. T. (2001). Harvard Design School guide to shopping. Köln : Taschen ; Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard Design School, 2001.

Clément, Gilles. (2005). Manifesto del Terzo paesaggio. Retrieved from

Cronon, W. (1996). The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. Environmental History, (1), 7.

Douglas, I. (2011). The Routledge handbook of urban ecology. Abingdon, Oxon, England ; New York : Routledge, c2011.

Dover, J. W. (2015). Green infrastructure : incorporating plants and enhancing biodiversity in buildings and urban environments. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2015.

Dunham-Jones, E., & Williamson, J. (2011). Retrofitting suburbia : urban design solutions for redesigning suburbs. Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, ©2011.

Egan, Matt. (2016, August 11). Macy’s is closing another 100 stores. CNN Money.

Eror, A. (2016, 5). the rise of the anti-beauty aesthetic. Think Pieces.

Hardwick, M. J., & Gruen, V. (2004). Mall maker : Victor Gruen, architect of an American dream. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004. R

Holpuch, A. (2015, December 23). Black Lives Matter protest shuts down Mall of America and airport terminal. The Guardian.

Kayleen, S. (2010). New Policies Exterminating Teen Mall Rats. ABC News.

Kowarik, I., & Körner, S. (2005). Wild urban woodlands : new perspectives for urban forestry. Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2005.


Kennen, K., & Kirkwood, N. (2015). Phyto : principles and resources for site remediation and landscape design. New York, NY : Routledge, 2015.

Laćan, I., McBride, J. R., & De Witt, D. (2015). Urban forest condition and succession in the abandoned city of Pripyat, near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 14, 1068–1078.

Ledesma, C., & Didier, J. (2008, December 16). City of Wauwatosa Comprehensive Plan 2008-2030.

Leinberger, C. (2008, March). The Next Slum? The Atlantic.

LIVEABLE CITIES LAB. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2016, from

Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods : saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008.

Oldenburg, R. (2001). Celebrating the third place : inspiring stories about the “great good places” at the heart of our communities. New York : Marlowe & Co., c2001.

Peterson, H. (2017). Dying shopping malls are wreaking havoc on suburban America. Business Insider.

Porteous, J. D. (1996). Environmental aesthetics : ideas, politics and planning. London ; New York : Routledge, 1996.

Pretty Jules, Adams Bill, Berkes Fikret, de Athayde Simone Ferreira, Dudley Nigel, Hunn Eugene, … Pilgrim Sarah. (2009). The Intersections of Biological Diversity and Cultural Diversity: Towards Integration. Conservation & Society, (2).

Prigann. (2004). Aesthetics of ecology: art in environmental design; theory and practice. United Kingdom: Birkhauser; Springer.

Timmermann, M. (2017, May 9). These major retailers are closing more than 3,000 stores this year. Clark.

Quednau, Rachel. (2016, August 18). Suburban Mall Banishes Bus Stop Service. Strong Towns.

Quednau, Rachel. (2017, June 3). A Town Square Out of Thin Air.

Quednau, Rachel. (2016, November 28). Black Friday Parking 2016 Recap. Strong Towns.


Appendix A - Composing the Ecological Script

The following section is a detailed procedure required for the composition of a thirdscape ecological script. The initial step should begin with a rigorous analysis in order to identify constraints and opportunities as it relates to species and social patterns on and adjacent to the site.

The documentation of fauna and flora, especially third nature landscapes (such as abandoned urban lots), will be critical in composing the ecological script of the Thirdscape. Existing ecological diversity of many suburban shopping malls is sparse, limited to a few struggling ornamental trees and the occasional specimen flanking an entrance, but areas of existing landscape will provide a source of soil ready to catalyze growth. Third Nature landscapes have been known to contain as many as four times the number of species as a city park (Dover, 2015, p. 9). With an anticipated increase in diversity richness, comes a greater amount of legal complexity.

Many municipalities enforce ordinances which limit the use of certain “weeds” grown, even on private properties. In case of Wauwatosa, WI there is a “weed commissioner” who is responsible for ensuring none of the forbidden species exist on private lots (Ledesma and Didier 2008). It will be important that Thirdscapes comply with any existing ordinances. (See the appendix D, for a list of

forbidden species in Concord, CA)

In many suburban environments, infrastructure channels heavy rains directly into the storm sewers. Drawings from the city should be obtained in order to identify opportunities for daylighting storm drains. In the case of the Sunvalley Shopping Center, a culverted creek can be found running through the site, leaving for the opportunity to daylight it in segments as parking space becomes available. Some municipalities (especially those with stressed infrastructure) offer incentive programs which may assist in funding a portion of the daylighting.

Geological analysis should be conducted to document the soil type and identify contaminants that might exist within and below the layers of asphalt. Contaminants common to parking lots and asphalt can be assumed such as oil, petroleum hydrocarbons and VOCs. Through the mechanism of ripping apart the surfaces, these toxins could become exposed to humans or leach into the ground water. Phytoremediation of these toxins could occur through microbial activity, plant process, exposure to wind and sun, and volatilization (Kennen & Kirkwood, 2015). If contamination levels are high enough, specific plant species selected for their phytoremediation potential can be planted in a matrix throughout the parking lot. (See appendix E for a list of plants

conducive to petroleum degredation).

Existing samples of asphalt (and base substrates) should be understood in order to select the appropriate tool for erosion. Once the background research is complete, a strategy for erosion can be conducted. The method in which the asphalt is cut into is important as it will be a means of communicating the human intention distinguishing it apart from an abandoned ruderal lot.

In determining the feasibility of introducing/incorporating Thirdscape into abandoned big boxes, the removal of building materials is key. Waterproofing and other adhesive, petroleum-based products may be difficult to recycle and require to be landfilled. There is also potential to recycle materials such as bricks, concrete, sand, and wood into growth media that could be utilized on green roofs (Carlson, 2000). Because of their structural load capacity, concrete parking decks would be ideal candidates for intensive green roofs while still allowing lower levels to be preserved as parking and drop-off zones.

Plant growth performance will vary depending on several characteristics unique to the urban environment. Soil temperatures in these areas, for instance, will typically be higher due to the urbanheat island effect and absorptive qualities of the


asphalt. This translates into lower soil moisture and higher concentrations of heavy metals, nitrogen, and calcium due to emissions. Urban woodlands were also found to have a lower density of fungi and an altered biotic environment (Douglas, 2011 p.191). The impoverished soil would likely benefit from modifications to its composition in order to increase the rate of succession. Physical stressors in urban areas are more complex and include urban-heat island, increased CO2 and atmospheric pollution (Douglas, 2011). Urban wildlife such as an inflated squirrel population, can affect the regeneration of plants (Douglas, 2011 p.193). Certain plant traits are optimal for urban environments. These are plants that show a tolerance for dry, rocky, alkaline, nitrogenous soils, and intolerance for shade and small seeds (Douglas, 2011).

When comparing third nature woodlands to third nature grasslands, it was found that rare and threatened species were only found in the grasslands, likely due to nitrogen fixing allowing for greater diversity (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). This supports the argument of maintaining a variety of biomes in different stages of succession as critical component to the resilience of the ecosystem in addition to providing environmental variety for uses.

In Berlin, an abandoned rail yard turned park called

The Südgelände, is structured to maintain diversity through induced succession and light maintenance measures. Kowarik states that pioneer species such as moss and opportunistic plants that become established on leaf debris will be the first to take root. Over time, woody plants such as dogwoods, elms, birch, and alders will also take root, leading to hardwood growth in certain climates. In order to

39 The Südgelände Berlin, Germany Abandoned Rail-yard now Public Park 34 Acre 50,000 Visitors / Year

ensure a variety of successional states in parking lots, a variation of asphalt removal techniques could be applied, ranging from total removal of asphalt to just the breaking of asphalt. Other controllable metrics might be the depth of cutting, width, and recipe of modified fill.

As maintenance of parks is a significant cost to local jurisdictions, the Thirdscape hopes to provide relief from the extensive level of maintenance required by the typical city park. Watering, pruning, fertilizing, and lawn-cutting will all be substantially reduced, if not eliminated, as they go against the nature and objective of Thirdscapes. Certain climates may, of course, make use of irrigation systems to provide a greater amount of biodiversity and reduce fire risk. Passive irrigation systems and a reliance on the water table should be prioritized over traditional drip or spray irrigation. Weeding will likely be required, depending on the region, to ensure that forbidden species are removed, and it might constitute a significant cost. As the new aesthetic of Thirdscapes is derives from a level of unkemptness, maintenance of this kind can be carried out in a much looser fashion. Traditionally, maintenance plans are submitted as a finalized document with the drawings of a project. Considering the number of variables, and the Thirdscape’s evolving nature, these maintenance plans should be presented as impermanent and constantly be revised as the landscape evolves. Controlled burns, or removal of dry debris may be required in many environments

to prevent the risk of fire. Fire breaks could also be established on a local level with controlled burns. In Canada, prairie greenroofs have been designed such that they can be burned once a year without harming the building.

depicts that a careful look at predicted pioneer species can help determine what level of guidance will be required to ensure that an ecosystem is created without compromising existing adjacent ecosystems.

The final critical variable in the Thirdscape is time. Ecological succession takes decades and even centuries for transition, exceeding the typical developers threshold of patience. Fortunately succession can be induced by human intervention. Controlled burns, amendment of soil, and controlled inundation would be a few methods for encouraging succession. Natural succession in our urban environments has also been recently studied.

Joe McBride, a professor emeritus of the Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Program at Berkeley has spent years studying vegetation and ecological analysis through urban lot succession. He has traveled to Pripyat, near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown site to study the effect of ruderal succession on the (abandoned) urban environment. His photos alone begin to capture the potential of Third Nature in an urban context (Laćan et al., 2015). It is important to recognize the rate of succession in these photos is with minimal human intervention.

In addition to the Pripyat study, professor McBride, has studied urban lot succession in active urban environments such as Berkeley, California. His work

41 2013
Ferris Wheel
Lenin Avenue 1986 2013 2013
Central Square

Appendix F - Social Factors

Similar to a rigorous analysis of ecological factors, a parallel analysis of existing social factors should be conducted in order to compose the script of the thirdscape.

An initial factor to consider is that of aesthetics, an entire field of research has been contributed to that of environmental aesthetics studied by Carlson, Prigann, Porteous, and Nassauer. Attempts to classify entire regions solely by the aesthetic tendencies of their constitutive communities risks resulting in generalizations. In a more comprehensive approach, Kowarik & Körner have classified public attitudes towards nature into nine categories. These categories consider attitudes from utilitarian (material value), naturalistic (wonder and awe), ecological scientific (investigative), aesthetic (beauty), symbolic (communication), humanistic (emotionally connected), moralistic (responsible), domineering (master), and negative (fear and aversion) points of view (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). Factors that may affect these attitudes are heritage, age, familiar environment, personality, or a combination thereof (Porteous, 1996, p. 128). The different combinations of these factors and the attitudes they inform will evoke a variety of responses to the thirdscape. Instead of attempting to transform the attitudes of the existing community the thirdscape should result from the attitudes. If the community expresses certain attitudes such as

domineering and negative, the thirdscape might have to evolve at a slower pace, or require a greater degree of structure for social acceptance.

Aesthetic tastes have been driven not only by individual attitudes but also by historical precedent. The manicured gardens of the French Baroque and English Picturesque have become ingrained in nearly every area of the United States. The obsessive desire to prune, fertilize, irrigate, and control has inflicted our relationship with nature. The beauty in mortality has been largely removed as we have decided to regard it as a sign of weakness (Carlson, 2000, p. 37) Letting nature “get out of control,” or “run wild” perturbs a lot of people on a subconscious level (Prigann, 2004, p. 128). Not everyone will be able to appreciate Third Nature in the suburban environment in the same way. Consequently, it must be adapted over time and structured in a way that does not appear threatening and reassures people about its aesthetic or functional value. Thirdscapes must be adopted as part of a trained aesthetic. By sharpening of users’ perceptions and by heightening their sensibilities, the suburban landscape can take on a new meaning and begin to erase the polarizations between what is nature and what is city. Robert Nash claims it took science and art to change the perspective of the wilderness and the mountains from landscapes of evil to sublime landscapes

(Carlson, 2000); the Thirdscape will require similar measures for transformation. There are movements in the current German fashion industry that describe the rise of the anti-beauty aesthetic. The trend could be seen as a counter-culture to the matching, fitted clothes that have dominated over past decades (Eror, 2016). The new style is loose, disproportional but assembled in a manner which is not detrimental to the attractiveness of the person. The Thirdscape could be viewed as a parallel movement embracing the looseness of Third Nature, but in a controlled manner in which it is not detrimental to the aesthetic.

Public safety is a valid concern with Third Nature. Many jurisdictions around the world are currently operating from a guidebook defined as CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). This guidebook recommends that all ground vegetation be pruned to 3 feet and all tree canopies pruned to fall no lower than 7 feet in order to maintain sight lines across the entire site. The motivation of these guidelines is to facilitate surveillance by authorities responsible for safety. Other components of CPTED include the leveling of topographic variation, the elimination of sod areas around playgrounds (to prevent threat of criminals from watching children), the installation of fences, the delineation of spaces, and benches with features that deter lounging. These guidelines


have resulted in fully compliant parks that begin to look banal and drain any potential of unstructured play. One could also argue that CPTED guidelines have been as responsible for NDD as the invention of the PlayStation. Through observation Kowarik & Körner have observed that the utilization of Third Nature in Germany shows lower representation of female users relative to males (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). This is theorized to be a direct result of the perception that these spaces are less safe. It has also been widely observed that females are consistently underrepresented in public space in general. Creating a thirdscape which is democratic might take extra care towards ensuring all of its users feel safe, though much of the fear of safety relating to the natural environment may be misconception. Though it is logical that Third Nature might create an ideal place for criminal activity (un-manicured, darker, dense vegetation), there has been no evidence to support that such Third Nature environments foster this activity alone. By acknowledging and attempting to overcome the risk of Thirdscapes, on the one hand, and by refusing to compromise the quality of a space, on the other hand, a balance might be struck so that the creation of Thirdscape is as democratic as possible. This may be accomplished through better lighting, the installation of visibility corridors, and by ensuring that passages remain as active and engaging as possible.

Other anti-social behaviors that could be

detrimental to utilization — such as littering, vandalism, intimidation by youth, and dog dynamics — must also be considered (Kowarik & Körner, 2005). Many of these concerns are better addressed from a planning/policy avenue rather than through the intervention of a Thirdscape. Since the goal of the Thirdscape is to allow it to morph as a function of its adjacent culture and ecologies, a greater sense of ownership in the community would discourage these anti-social behaviors. There is a beauty in community-regulation when a stranger observes another carrying out an undesirable action and the two engage to work toward a positive outcome. These forms of engagement build social capital of a community, though policing will be required to help mitigate criminal activity and oversee civic demonstration.


Appendix G - Precedents


Duisburg, Germany

Industrial Plant Turned Park by Peter Latz

570 Acres

500,000 Visitors / Year

Programing / Recreation


Le Jardin Bleu Parc Andre


Paris, France

35 Acres

Autoplant turned City Park


The professional project of Peter Trio titled Succession towards a Suburban Wilderness is approved by

The professional project of Peter Trio titled Succession towards a Suburban Wilderness is approved by

Peter Trio | 2017 Masters of Landscape Architecture | Professional Project | University of California – Berkeley

Peter Trio | 2017 Masters of Landscape Architecture | Professional Project | University of California – Berkeley


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