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MAIN STREET ON STEROIDS Professors: Fall E.Gamard and J.Tate Spring E. Barron


Thesis Statement


In our current hyper-consumerist society, branded corporations hold the largest influence on the collective behaviors and lifestyle of consumers. If architects are ever to hold sway over the daily actions of these people, in hopes of making their lifestyles more sustainable, then they must work in concert with the massive transnational corporations that profit from the lifestyle choices of consumers. It is the goal of this thesis to investigate and elucidate the ways in which high-density, high-rise residential construction and hypermarket consumerist commerce can be synthesized to produce economies of scale and economies of agglomeration. This intensive cohabitation of commerce and residence aims to increase the carrying capacity of urban spaces. By inverse, this “connective commerce� decreases the relative advantages perceived by consumerist society in suburban sprawl. In this manner, it exploits the latent advantages existent in the urban environment creating new datums and facilitating a lifestyle which requires less energy and incurs less waste, but maintains or improves quality.

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Thesis Abstract


OMNIBUS CONSUMERISM One reading of the architectural history of consumerism could read as follows. Main Street was replaced by the department store. The department store was replaced by the shopping mall. The shopping mall was replaced by the strip mall. The strip mall consolidated into the Big Box. The Big Box further consolidated into the hyper-market. In this lineage, the trends are as follows: ● Many one-off small businesses are out-matched by the purchasing power of chains of increasing size with more reach into more market sectors. ● Commerce moves away from dense urban areas to cheaper suburban land following the out-pouring of the population to these areas. ● Distance travelled from home to purchase is increased greatly. ● Single corporations absorb increasingly larger portions of the sum purchases of an average consumer Beyond encouraging an automotive lifestyle and excessive energy usage, this historical arc has meant that influence on the lifestyle of consumers has consolidated into the auspices of a select group of retailers and branded corporations. This concentration means that if these powerful corporations are brought onboard with a sustainable conception of community, then an enormous impact on our environmental footprint can be affected.

Le Bon Marche, Paris, 1835 World’s first department store. Zola called it “the cathedral of modern commerce”

Southdale, Minnesota Shopping Mall , 1956 World’s first enclosed shopping mall.

COMMERCIAL-ARCHITECTURAL COLLABORATIONS The collaboration of commerce and architecture is not a novel innovation and has seen much iteration throughout the past. World’s Fairs and expositions offer a wealth of this type of collaboration, but department stores also independently sponsored model homes in an effort to attract media attention, draw customers, and promote merchandise. “Macy’s in New York, Marshall Field in Chicago, Woodward and Lothrop in Washington, D.C. and Wannamaker’s in Philadelphia all undertook to market model homes.” 1 As a case in point, in 1929 Marshall Field Department store invited Buckminster -Fuller to exhibit his recently designed 4-D 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.3

Southdale, Minnesota Shopping Mall , 195 Vistor Gruen the architect was interested in “Suburbscape” creating a pleasant town outside the city was his goal.

house in hopes that it would attract buyers for a collection of “daringly modern furniture from France.” Fuller’s house was meant to attract attention, but his talks, five daily, soon stole the show. His hexagonal house suspended from a central mast was conceived of as an “aid for living” rather than a house in the traditional sense. In a provocative marketing ploy, it was renamed the Dymaxion by linguist Waldo Warren, the man responsible for the word radio. Unlike the model though, the house never got off the ground. This was because its sales-appeal relied on mass production, which was the technique which would have allowed it to be sold for a cost of $3,000, or as Fuller would put it “only 50 cents a pound.”2


Buckminster Fuller Explaining Dymaxion Principles

In our contemporary society where the “Inconvenient Truth”3 of global warming has been accepted by society, green branding has presented businesses a new issue on which their reputations, their brands, and ultimately their economic viability increasingly depends. Wal-Mart’s official take on the issue is “…we see sustainability as one of the most important opportunities for both the future of our business and the future of our world.”4 In a recent New York Times article, Wal-Mart’s dilemma was summed up this way “Mr. Scott (CEO of Wal-Mart), hungry for ways to protect and transform his company, began to see environmental sustainability as a way to achieve two goals: improve WalMart’s bottom line and its reputation.”5 This growth is highly driven by consumer desires. A 2007 study conducted by a consortium of branding consultants and delivered at the Sustainable Brands Conference ‘07 concluded that consumer spending on “Green Products” would double in 2008. 6 This same study also points out that respondents perceive “green as a direct and positive reflection of their social status, in addition to recognizing its broader value to society and the world.” Also, because of the common misconception that greener options are inherently more expensive options, green choices are seen as luxury choices. Thus sustainability is a mark of prestige. These associations, which the average consumer makes, create potentials for a hypermarket retailer to increase prestige, customer loyalty, and profit through promoting a reputation for environmental responsibility.

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In July 2009, Wal-Mart announced and ambiotious plan to create a worldwide sustainable product index, which would give consumers a rating on every product to make greener choices clearer.

THE PROBLEM OF THE HOUSE A great epoch has begun. There exists a new spirit. Industry, overwhelming us like a flood which rolls on towards its destined end, has furnished us with new tools adapted to this new epoch, animated by the new spirit. Economic law unavoidably governs our acts and our thoughts. The problem of the house is a problem of the epoch. The equilibrium of society today depends upon it. Architecture has for its first duty, in this period of renewal, that of bringing about a revision of values, a revision of the constituent elements of the house.7 With those words, Le Corbusier called for a new evolution in architecture through reconceptualizing life, living, and the machines which make it possible on a Modern scale. His Plan Voisin of 1925 showed how a modern rationalist city would look. The cruciform towers containing all the necessities of contemporary life organized on a massive grid of highways and surrounded by green space became the prototype which was later accepted at the CIAM which lasted as an organization from 1928 to 1959. Though Voisin was never built, the rationalist order of it organization was reflected in many Modernist housing plans with varying degrees of success. Among the more famous are the Unité d'Habitation by Le Corbusier of 1947-1952 and the Barbican Estate in London by, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon of 1965-1976. While countless infamous examples include types repeated throughout the tower blocks of the UK, the concrete panel constructions of the Soviet era, and the high-rise developments of the People’s Republic of China.

Le Corbusier’s hand rakes over his masterpiece.

An anonymous Soviet apartment block

These housing alternatives are examples of large-scale developments which were able to house large qualities of people with varying degrees of success. The simple fact that these prototypes house many people in a small footprint make them exorbitantly more sustainable than the sprawling model of housing followed by the majority of planners in the United States. These evolutionary steps in housing on the macro scale offer a parallel to the consolidation amongst commercial spaces discussed early in this thesis. Anonymous Chinese apartment towers

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CONTEMPORARY AGGLOMERATIVE PROJECTS The successors to these Modernist projects can be seen in many contemporary large scale projects. In the realm of paper architecture, Rem Koolhaas’ proposal of a ‘Hyperbuilding’ from 1996 is very much so the Plan Voisin of the contemporary architectural discussion. The proposal called for a 5 million Square meter self-contained city for 120,000 inhabitants with all the services entailed.8 The Hyperbuilding carries through the audacity of scale inherent in Voisin, but adds flexibility and adaptability to specific contextual needs physical, climatic, and cultural. The dreams of this proposal have been realized, though in a slightly smaller scale, in the Linked Hybrid complex by Steven Holl completed in 2009 a complex of towers housing 720 units9 and the Museum Plaza by OMA/REX in Louisville, KY which is a culture focused project which also houses 164 dwelling.10 The Linked Hybrid is a reinterpretation of the high-density high-rise housing developments of Asia. This typology was born out of the practicality of accommodating ever increasing population growth within the tight geographic confines of Hong Kong. In this city, the formula has been repeated so often that the basic characteristic are readily apparent: a multiple of high-rise apartment towers are placed on a podium level of shops, facilities, amenities, parking, and access to public transportation. The program for these developments read as the blueprints for small cities housing up to thirty or fifty thousand residents, and the biggest pitfall within this typology is isolating itself from its context. The more successful developments are able to integrate themselves within the existing fabric by acting as nodal destinations and thoroughfares to facilitate pedestrian travel.11 Within the realm of hypermarkets, growth has been the dominant characteristic, and this growth when placed in dense urban environments, has led to agglomerative behaviors and vertical growth. A case in point is the Carrefour, B&Q complex on Baociao Road in the Hsindian District of Taipei, Taiwan. The building is a series of 2 big box style hypermarkets placed one on top of the other, underground parking, a food court, a level of smaller retailers, and is capped off with a 6th floor driving range. The satellite image of this complex renders it almost invisible. It simply shows up as a green dot of grass surrounded by concrete and asphalt. Compare that to a suburban shopping center catering to the same scale of commercial activity and consumers from anywhere in American exurbia.

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Hyperbuilding, Rem Koolhaas, 1996

Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid at night.

Museum PLaza, Louisville, KY

DEN[CITY] The debate over which brand of urbanism is best reaches far beyond the confines of this document. The city and the concept of urbanity are constantly in flux. It is the goal of this project to push the current city, which is being eaten away by a multitude of forces, into a more consolidated city, a city which contains, and makes accessible to the greatest number of people, all the facilities needed for development and growth. In this way, less land can be used more intensively, leading to less reliance on wasteful personal transportation and allowing for higher concentrations of tax revenue, which in turn allows for larger public works to be executed easily. Dense areas have a larger customer base and thus larger markets, which means that retailers can make larger orders and the cost per unit can go down. This fact of consumption has led to the cheapening of previously luxury items at megascaled retailers. These same concepts apply to the city and the environment. Urban areas require less energy and produce less greenhouse gasses per capita than rural areas. They also produce more capital per capita. In the US, two thirds of the population lives in the 100 largest metropolitan areas and produce three-quarters of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These areas are however only responsible for 56 percent of carbon emissions from highway transportation and residential buildings. This means that the carbon footprint for the urban American in 2005 was only 86 percent of the national average of 2.6 metric tons.12 Within this vast selection, it is evident that in general denser areas run more efficiently.

SAFTEY IN NUMBERS: ECONOMIES OF SCALE & AGGLOMERATION Economy of scale refers to the basic concept that as a larger quantity of goods are produced, the costs per unit goes down. It is the basic principle which created the industrialized society in which we live. In the world of retail, this has been the driving force behind the growth of big box and hypermarket retailers. Wal-Mart has been able to out price its competitors simply because it sells products on an unprecedented scale. In construction, economies of scale are the driving force for standardized building components, pre-fabricated and panelized systems. Density and scale have inherent economies in them, but it is density with diversity which offers the most viable systems for 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.7

Wal-Mart’s 117 US distibution centers overlayed with the Interstate Highway System.

positive growth. The dynamism of the city comes from its constituent parts: Nature shows that complex systems have a higher chance of survival than simple ones. The health of cities also proves to be strongly correlated with the diversity that they offer in a variety of fields. Even from an economic point of view, it is not just a matter of flexibility and diversity within the productive environment, but equally of the situation of that productive environment within a specific social context, a general climate in which the quality of housing, the cultural space, and the information networks play a large role. In this sense one could speak of the creative potential of a particular city. The same applies at other scale levels, such as institutions and businesses. ‘Businesses realize that the internal development of knowledge is often insufficient to produce the innovations that they need for the longer term. In principle, innovation bears on all aspects of the running of the company. It is thus more than just technological innovation. Genuine innovations of this kind require a climate in which different disciplines and cultures can complement and reinforce one another.’13 The beauty of successful cities lie in the fact that they combine multiplies of programs and personalities. These forces which incline businesses and people to collocate in large mass are called economies of agglomeration. For example in a small Midwestern town there are probably a handful of people who for instance want to eat Indian food, so few that an Indian restaurant would go out of business before ever turning a profit, but even in a small Midwestern city, where the percent of the population that wants Indian food is probably the same, there is a critical number, which makes fulfilling the demand economical and profitable. Now, in a larger agglomeration, where there are also nascent demands for other things for instance, Thai food, or Indian movies, the restaurateur who was importing spices from Indian has an added incentive to import movies and the spices necessary for a good Thai curry. Quickly, the economies of scale add up, and even though there may be no significant difference in the demographic, the profitability of providing services and goods has increased exponentially because of a basic economy of scale and an economy of agglomeration. These two concepts are what make a hyper-market so successful. A hyper-market is a mini-city. 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.8

EVERY BUILDING IS AN ECONOMY This same logic applies for built form. It is why sub-division developers are able to produce houses inexpensively. It is also the basic concept that makes multi-family or collective housing more efficient. Consider that every unit of housing is defined essentially by four walls, a floor and a roof. A duplex takes two units and eliminates one wall by having a shared wall. Now imagine this mirrored, and then mirrored again. Quickly instead of four walls per unit, the equation approaches one wall per unit. When stacked, then that eliminates the quotient of one floor and one roof per unit, and approaches a ratio of one level per unit, half the amount of material, work, maintenance, etc. This is why vertical growth, with-in the limits of current technologies, is more sustainable. The agglomerative economy comes into play when diverse programmatic and architectural needs occupy adjacencies so that they can benefit from their different needs. Consider for instance an office which has its highest HVAC needs during the day, while people are present and has practically no need after hours. A residence on the other hand has no need while the residents are at work, but a great need when the residents return from work. If these two spaces are joined by a system which can transfer conditioned air from the one space to the other when it is no longer needed, then the system does much less work than two separate systems would trying to meet the two different needs. When programs of different types which operate on different hours share spaces, the fixed 24 hour costs of maintenance and operation are shared, thus making it more economically viable for both businesses. This also creates a greater sense of ownership by a greater number of people which increases the chance that small problems are addressed before they grow into large problems. A sense of enfranchisement into place also encourages community and makes public amenities more likely to be built and maintained. In Rome, the extensive network of street markets is an example of this principle in action. Street markets are rapidly set up and attract customers to this piazza or that and the vendors, restaurants and merchants who are located on the piazza or on the way to the piazza get increased traffic and increased sales. When the market is finished, it cleans the piazza, and the community is better for it. In Rome, this happens in some of the most idyllic areas such as the Campo di Fouri, and in drosscapes such as at the massive weekly Porta Portese flea market located in an industrial region. 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.9

Campo de’ Fiori during the market.

Porta Portese during the market.

PEACE, LAND, AND BREAD This also works on our senses of community. Game theory’s most well known problem is the problem of the commons. In essence, it states that actors will take as much as they can from a common space/resource and do as little as necessary to maintain this space/resource. This problem plays itself out repeatedly in the vast green spaces created in the modernist mode to house workers all over the ex-soviet republics. On paper, these projects have all the necessary qualities of successful housing; ample living space, green space, quality access to daylight, and local access to goods and services. What they lack though is community ownership in the common spaces, and thus these areas, the green space, become no-man’s land, and all sorts of deviant behavior are allowed take place. Trust between actors is the only way to solve this problem, and an agglomerative development solves the problem of the commons by ceding its stewardship to a partnership between the corporation and the residents. The corporation’s incentive to maintain this space is its reputation, and ultimately its sales. “Peace, Land, and Bread!” was rallying call which won over the serfs and soldiers to Lenin’s side in 1917 and ushered in an unprecedented form of social organization into reality. In that slogan there was something for everyone; peace for the soldiers so long denied, land for the serfs who were enchained by feudal allegiance, and bread for the proletarian masses starving in the cities. Peace, land, and bread are the same reasons that the American city has lost its edge. The slogan was unspoken, but it was termed the American Dream: A house, a yard, and 2.5 kids. The peace was peace and quiet which was considered absent in the bustling city. The land was an acre, half acre, quarter acre of grass; a lawn of your own. And the bread, the dough at least, quickly followed as the upper to middle-class jumped at the opportunities of suburbia, and they took their tax revenue with them. Any project which aims to bring our cities back from this era of disintegration must satisfy modern demands for space, peace, and greenery while utilizing the realities of a globalized economy. Through the latent possibilities in economies of scale and agglomeration, high-density intensive use arrangements can be achieved to create a more sustainable living-shopping machine.

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“Down with Kitchen Slavery!” G. Shegal, 1931 Modernity in Russia started in the kitchens.

The same seems to hold true for America, at least for the refrigerator manufacturers.


P10 Ward Jandl, H. Yesterday’s Houses of Tomorrow: Innovative American Homes 1850 to 1950. Washington D.C: The Preservation Press, 1991. 2

P83-84 Ward


Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” represents a watershed moment in which sustainability and the crisis of global warming became household concerns.


“Sustainability.” (Accessed Nov. 27, 2009)


“Green Light Specials, Now at Wal-Mart” Published January 24, 2009. (Accessed Nov. 27, 2009) 6

“Consumers Will Double Spending on Green Brands Survey 2.5 September 27, 2007.” (Accessed Sept. 4, 2009) 7

P14 Ward


“Hyperbuilding.” d=566&Itemid=10. (Accessed Sept. 4, 2009)


P220 Arpa, Javier and Fendandez Per, Aurora. Density Projects: 36 New Concepts on Collective Housing. . Vitoria-Gastiez, Spain: A+T Ediciones, 2007. 10

P238 Density


For an in-depth analysis of the typology See: Dempsey, Nicola, and Jenks, Mike. Future forms and design for sustainable cities. Amsterdam; Boston: Architectural Press, 2005. 12

P3 Brown, Marilyn., Southworth, Frank., Sarzynski, Andrea. Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America. _footprint_sarzynski/carbonfootprint_report.pdf. (Accessed Nov. 27, 2009) P9 Melet, Ed., Vreedenburgh, Eric. Rooftop Architecture : Building on an Elevated Surface. Rotterdam : NAi Publishers, 2005. 13

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Thesis Site



S Ra mpar t St

s S t

Site from near Poydras St

Site from Girod St Parking Lot

Site from Loyola Ave

O Ke efe Ave

Hurricane Katrina and the resultant flooding became an omen for the predicted effects of sea-level rise due to Global Warming. In launching this new typological building of the hyper-dense agglomerative skyscraper in New Orleans, it will stand as an example of how dense sustainable urban development can add resiliency against the environmental effects of Global Warming. The site is bounded by Poydras St to the North, O Keefe Ave to the East, Girod St to the South, and S. Rampart to the West. This location which currently id dominated by the slabs of demolished buildings offers a large swath of vacant land centrally located. In choosing this site downtown, the retail will remediate the dearth of grocery store, and economical retail in the Warehouse District, central Business District, French Quarter and Treme. The development will not only serve itself, but make the redensification of New Orleans more possible in the existing urban core.


d St

0 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.12



Thesis Program

The Program for the development must provide for the necessary facialities and ammaenities to offer a superior alternative to the suburban lifestyle. It will consist of: Residential Space: 554 total apartments totaling 775,000 sq, ft. 200 Apt type A 15 Apt type B 80 Apt type C 25 Apt type D 52 Apt type E 180 Apt type F Commercial space: S.Mart Hypermarket 420,00 sq. ft. Sale floor 240,000 sq. ft. Service space 120,000 sq. ft. Cafeteria 35,000 sq. ft. Offices 25,000 sq. ft. Mixed Retail space of Bookstore Gym Mixed Stores

338,000 sq. ft. 40,000 sq. ft. 38,000 sq. ft. 260,000 sq. ft.

Open park Space Open to Public For residents only

40,000 sq. ft. 10,000 sq. ft.

Parking: 1000 commercial spaces 800 residential spaces


1,583,000 sq. ft.

Buildings and Proposals for consideration and analysis

The Plan Voisin, Le Corbusier, 1925 Voisin codified in a single proposal Corbu’s desires for a Modernist city. Scaled to the level of impracticality, it became the paper architecture codification of the Modernist urban agenda. It has been analyzed, but the works it engendered usually fell short of the austere white model. Wolkenbugel on Nikitsky Square, El Lissitzsky, 1924 El Lissitzsky’s litho of this proposal was the most provocative image from the Russian Avant-Garde to make it into popular western architectural discourse until the de-Constructivist movement of the late 70s and 80s shed light on that work. This was only one of 8 cloudscrapers which El proposed to mark the entrances to Moscow. It radical reinterpretation of verticality in the urban environment is a work of wondrous foresight. Unité d'Habitation, Le Corbusier, 1947-1952 This is the practical application of Voisin, reduced in scale and imposition. In many ways it is an island removed from its context, but it does not detract of compete with its context, and in the way, it is a good precedent of how a collective housing scheme can provide the amenities necessary for self-sufficiency without completely isolating itself. The American Suburb in all its glory From the inception of the first Levittown, Suburbs and sub-divisions have been recklessly consuming our natural resources and forcing the population into wasteful lifestyles. The suburb migration was exacerbated by white flight and its comforting lifestyle has been championed by many as the ideal of American living. Remember however that the suburban movement is a relatively new phenomenon. Our grandparents, though they may have moved to suburbs were not born in them. Soviet Housing, Khrushchev era and Brezhnev era The housing solution adopted by the Soviet to fill their massive shortage after the devastation of the World War II offer an alternative to the wasteful suburb. The ‘Paneli’ of the soviet era were championed for their power to offer all a descent standard of living, and because they relied on precast concrete panels, they were and extremely efficient, quick, and sustainable option which did exactly what they proposed. Their failures however were the same that were evident in 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.14

the model of Voisin; the issue of the commons and the inhuman scale and repetition. In the Post-Soviet era however, even with much increased incomes and standards of living, Russian do not hold the unsustainable housing dreams of Americans. Chinese high-rise developments 1960’s to present Chinese Housing solutions follow much the same needs as those of Russian precedents. In this era of growth in China however, even with increased incomes and standards of living, the Chinese do not hold the unsustainable housing dreams of Americans. Hyperbuilding, OMA, 1996 Koolhass’ proposal shows the same forethought of Lissitzsky’s Wolkenbugel. This self-sufficient building remains connected to it context and in that way, it becomes and engine for development. Carrefour/B&Q complex Hsindian district, Taipei, Taiwan This building is just one of many examples of the ingenuity that confines force. Carrefour in Taiwan has modified the standard for big box and instead of isolating the retail space from the urban context in the hopes of cheaper initial investment, has chosen wisely to place its stores at the most dense areas thus becoming part of the daily habit and increasing revenue. Carrefour is French for intersection, and the name embodies a model of commerce which relies on engaging the patterns existent in a city rather than the simple model of cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. Linked Hybrid, Beijing, Steven Holl 2003-2009 The Linked Hybrid is a reinterpretation of the highdensity high-rise housing developments of Asia. A complex of towers housing 720 and high end retail, and amenities, it offers a higher-class option to its neighbors. Museum Plaza, REX, Louisville, KY 2005-2011 This is the physical manifestation of the Hyperbuilding. It successfully creates a center for culture intertwined to its context. And though the residential side of this project takes a back seat, it is an example of an agglomerative high-rise creating summing much greater than the sum of its parts.

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Bibliography Arpa, Javier and Fernandez Per, Aurora. Density Projects: 36 New Concepts on Collective Housing. Vitoria-Gastiez, Spain: A+T Ediciones, 2007. Details innovative designs for collective housing including the Museum Plaza and Linked Hybrid. Beckmann, Martin and Puu, Tonu. Spatial economics: density, potential, and flow. Amsterdam; New York: North-Holland, 1985. Binder, Georges. Sky high living: contemporary high-rise apartment and mixed-use buildings. Mulgrave, Vic.: Images; Woodbridge: ACC Distribution, 2002. This book gives detailed information and images on high-rise housing from the 1960 though projects under construction. The introductory essay lays out well the challenges in this market sphere. Cofagh, Eoin et al. The Climatic Dwelling: An Introduction to Climate Responsive residential Architecture. London: James and James, 1996. This is a source book of sustainable techniques in residential applications. Dempsey, Nicola, and Jenks, Mike. Future forms and design for sustainable cities. Amsterdam; Boston: Architectural Press, 2005. This work contains a wide selection of article describing the issues of building for a sustainable future. Particularly useful for this work were the article focused on Hong Kong’s highdensity developments. De Kelver, Ann. Experience Shopping: Where, Why and How People Shop all Over the World. Lanno Publishers, Tielt, 2008 This book offers an interpretation of the evolution of retail space within our modern society. Jenen, Rolf. High density living. London: Leonard Hill, 1965. Melet, Ed., Vreedenburgh, Eric. Rooftop Architecture: Building on an Elevated Surface. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2005. Rooftop Architecture presents a plethora of ideas about verticality in the city. Schittich, Christian. High-density housing: concepts, planning, construction. München: Edition Detail; Basel; Boston, Mass.: Birkhäuser, 2004. Ward Jandl, H. Yesterday’s Houses of Tomorrow: Innovative American Homes 1850 to 1950. Washington D.C: The Preservation Press, 1991. This book offers 12 examples of houses of the future from American sources. The sources of the houses range from famous architects to social critics, but each house in its own way represent solutions to the problems of the day, and the potentialities of re-conceiving the notion of home. Of particular interest to the author is the discussion of the Dymaxion House. 12/1/2009 Scott Burroughs, p.16

Spring Design

Main Street On Steroids: Living in the Global Economy A Hyper-Use Building New Orleans, LA

Spring Design

Main Street On Steroids: Living in the Global Economy A Hyper-Use Building New Orleans, LA The proposal consists of a large slab skyscraper which is reminiscent of the historic city being lifted on edge. This large mass, the heart of the building, is then charged with the necessary infrastructure of mechanized commerce.

The infrastructure consists of parking towers, a cargo container rack, and the S.MART showroom. The parking towers are a necessary response to the need for space in an urban environment. By stacking the cars and bringing them to their parking space by means of an elevator system, massive amounts of structure and floor area are saved in comparison to current ramp-based parking structures. Furthermore, the car elevator, which is powered by electricity rather than the combustible engine of a car, can have a carbon neutral source such as wind, solar or hydroelectric power generation. Efficiencies are also realized for the parked car; with an automated parking system there is no longer time wasted searching for a parking space and or losing one’s car in the sea of parking. The system as designed can handle 1800 cars. This parking system takes up 5,200 sq. ft. of the site, which is roughly one percent of the area that would have been necessary with a standard parking lot.

The cargo container rack is the penultimate stopping place for any good in the S.MART logistics system. The contemporary shipping container which has an 8 ft. x 8 ft cross-section and comes in lengths of 20 ft. or 40 ft., has been around for decades, but in most cases only houses goods during long distance travel. The current systems for logistics rely on an overly inefficient process by which a good is produced, stored near a port, containerized, shipped, unpacked, warehoused, loaded on to a truck, shipped to a distribution center, unloaded, reloaded, shipped to a store, unloaded, warehoused, and then placed on a shelf to await purchase. S.MART’s logistics stream uses the container as its base module in ordering, shipping, and warehousing. In this system, the store location places an order and the container is packed in its factory of origin. The container is then shipped to port, goes intermodal by transfer to rail or truck, and arrives directly to the S.MART store where the goods within await individual purchase in the container.

The S.MART showroom is the place where virtual commerce meets physical commerce. S.MART relies on internet networks and smart-phone technology to connect consumers with their products. But the virtual experience cannot replace the joy and serendipity of shopping as an experiential event. For this reason, S.MART’s shopping experience is streamlined to be free of the cumbersome and mind-numbing drudgery of the contemporary hyper-market experience. There are no shopping carts and no check-out lines at S.MART. The space of S.MART is more similar to a museum than a store. Since all purchases are made through the S.MART website, customers have no need to wait for a cashier to swipe their goods but decide when and even where to make their purchases. The space of S.MART is a physical space for S.MART to educate their customers about their product lines and for customers to try on/out goods they are considering for purchase. Once purchases have been made, customers choose to pick-up their goods at one of 46 PICK-UP locations located along the spine of the product elevators which travel along the vertical street and connect the container racks to the rest of the building. The majority of these product PICK-UP locations are for residents at each of their elevator floors, but they may also service outside customers on the lower levels and other businesses on the sky street levels.

The building is sited to draw people in from the busy commercial street of Poydras. Here a large formal move is made by lifting the S.MART showroom five stories off the ground. This creates a vast porch area through which the public can enter the building. This area is celebrated with wide curvilinear stairs which lift the visitor to the piano nobile. This covered public plaza can be used for a multitude of functions, most notably a morning and night market for the sale of local produce and crafts. These are goods do not benefit from S.MART’s shipping network, but are extremely sustainable ecologically, economically, and culturally. This public plaza also helps to invite in new customers to experince the wonders of smarter shopping.

In the mass of the slab three spaces interrupt the array of apartments: the Vertical Street, the Sky Streets and the Sky Gardens. The Vertical Street bifurcates the building along the axis created by Lafayette St. Lafayette extends from the site on the river side to Lafayette Park. On the lakeside, it becomes a shaded grove across Rampart and terminates in the atrium of the Hyatt Hotel. Mentally following the axis of the street, one arrives at the Superdome on the other side of the Hyatt. The Vertical Street can be read as the vertical extrusion of this terminated alley. In this space, residents come to pick up their S.MART purchases, while the lobby area around this, can be used for any assortment of activity. Examples: diner, theater, boutique, library, restaurant, coffee shop, bar, pub, convenience store, barber shop, etc

The Sky Streets cut through the mass of the building. They offer a relief in the faรงade to the screened mass of apartments and also allow for the building to take on a more unique character. They could be considered a hybrid between a mall or arcade and a linear park. These elevated public floors are optimized for recreation and recreational shopping

Sky Gardens provide green space for the residents of S.MART tower. They are located on the south elevation of the Girod st. wing and embedded into the mass of the Poydras st. wing. The southern gardens offer a place in the sun, while the Poydras gardens offer the amenity of a breezy shaded backyard in the sky

The layout of apartments is designed to offer diversity and choice for the residents. Six basic apartment types fit into modules set up by the 28ft. by 24ft. colum bays. The six basic apartment types offer sizes from the 672 sq.ft. studio to the 2352 sq.ft. four bedroom unit, and can accomodate an array of layouts. In total, the S.Mart towers provide for 552 apartments. The largest, the four bedroom unit, spans over the communal hallway and across the breadth of the building. This offers the residents the opportunity for cross ventilation. All units larger than the studio also have a staircase within them and this is what allows for the elevator to stop on every other floor and cuts the area given to hallways in half. It also promotes everyday exercise for the residents.

Agglomeration Apt. A Community Lawn

Apt. B

Apt. C

Apt. D

Apt. E

Apt. F

Community Lawn

Reflections Reviews of the project circled mainly around the scale of the proposal. For some who looked at it as a work of paper architecture, the proposal was not large enough. This notion was most like fueled by the provocative image of the French Quarter tilted up on end. Some critics suggested increasing program, such as adding a city hall, while other suggested duplicating the building to make a repetitive row S.MART towers. More pragmatic critics argued for the opposite, a shrinking of the proposal. These critics pointed out that the population pressures of New Orleans were not strong enough to warrant such density, but that a ten story building with a “normal” grocery store would be fine. Many reviewers supposed that the project was simple not right for New Orleans and should be proposed for “some place in Asia.” The few Asian members of the reviewers aptly pointed out that buildings of this scale already exist in Hong Kong Shanghai and other major cities, and that there would not be anything novel about that. Both of these critiques miss the point in my opinion. The proposal is based on economies of scale, and because of this needs to be big. It needs to have repeated units which are generic enough to be customized by the end-user. It needs to house enough people to be able to affect change. And in the end, bigness and utopia is not the goal in the proposal. It is scaled to not be the tallest building in New Orleans and thus be a part of the city not a city within a city. The proposal is a catalyst, a facilitator of change, and not a final solution. In general, this is a problem many had in viewing the proposal. They were not able to shift their thinking and loosen their narrow views of urbanism and tall buildings. The reviewers who missed the point were stuck in a suburbanite mentality, the mentality of consumption without consequence. These are the greatest failures we can make; the failure of mentality, the failure of inaction, the failure of narrow mindedness. We must adapt to the new realities of our environment, and we need to do it both locally and globally. Main Street On Steroids is not the answer. It is not a panacea. It is however a proposal to start a dialog and to start the momentum of change. If we refuse to listen and refuse to consider new lifestyles and new models of consumption, I humbly opine, we may be doomed.

Presenting the finer points


Final Model Photostitch

Main Street On Steroids: Living in the Global Economy  

Main Street On Steroids proposes an urban agglomerative answer to the forces of globalization, suburban sprawl, and the realities of global...