Published: 05/01/2019

Project Term: 2019

Project Website

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TOWN-MALL is a response to a public call for the transformation of Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana, Illinois, designed by Victor Gruen in 1963. Lincoln Square Mall was relatively successful until a complex of big-box stores was constructed outside the city, sending the downtown into decline. In response to the planning department’s interest in reviving the failed city-center mall, once again displacing the civic with the commercial, we proposed instead to repurpose the now-abandoned and under-utilized big-box stores at the edge of the city, recognizing the latent political power of the periphery. Through this conceptual bait-and-switch, we began to reexamine the monumentality of the big-box. Their neutral, familiar, and powerful surfaces held our attention and offer a chance to redirect their iconicity into a new space of civic representation.The project consists of a thickened perimeter containing the services of the building, maintaining the familiar, multi-purpose, central space. By repurposing this commercial space as a stage for collective assembly, this generic container produces a new agora for social and political life. Through a simple reworking of the interior systems and material fit-outs, the project updates the generic condition of the warehouse into a new type of municipal monumentality.

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TOWN-MALL Exterior