Fixing the Box

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Virginia Tech


My Thesis addresses one of the staples of suburban American development for the past half century, the ubiquitous Big Box store in the strip mall shopping centers and the acres of surface parking lots built around them. With thousands of these stores built, many are being abandoned by their tenants who are relocating to new locations, following market demand and other factors. While current methods of re-using these buildings exist, they're inefficient and require huge amounts of time and money to redevelop effectively. This leads many to simply be demolished and create thousands of tons of debris for our landfills and wastes the embedded energy they have. Looking closely at a local shopping center going through a massive redevelopment process that will take years if not decades to complete, I propose an alternative method of developing the site in a shorter time frame. This method applies new construction techniques in modular building to facilitate a fundamental shift in what the site provides to the public. Transitioning from a retail only destination that requires a car to access and use into a fully walkable and engaging neighborhood with retail, residential, and commercial uses all contributing to the balance for its residents and visitors. All of this development acknowledges the fact that the success of this community will spur more development, and allows for that future growth. The dis-assembly of the modular constructs allows them to move and develop another shopping center else ware to continue improving our communities.



Architecture, Building re-use, Site development