by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP, and Lauren Patterson, PLA, ASLA
The previous article, Evolution and Re-Calibration of the Typical Suburban Retail Environment, was the first one of the Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN)’s series on the evolution of the suburban retail environment, which touched on the history of suburban retail and discussed the transformation of retail centers since the turn of the century. Continuing this series, this article presents three case studies that showcase how different municipalities and developers have been looking at the transition of retail centers throughout America. The suburban retail environment is undergoing a “paradigm shift” from car-oriented retail to a new age that supports the changing patterns and lifestyles that have evolved with technology.
Most suburban areas throughout America experienced a time where the indoor mall was a one-stop destination for convenience. Now communities across the country are dealing with the implications of how these large-scale developments function in the new retail age. While there were over 2,000 malls active in the U.S. in the 1980s, there are currently less than 1,000, and that number is falling every year. This article explores how these retail centers have begun a slow transition to adapt to the needs of their communities and transition to profitable centers. The following case studies illustrate different strategies and challenges that occur with suburban redevelopment.
Case Study 1: Winter Park Village
Location: Winter Park, Florida
Retail Center: Winter Park Mall—525,000 SF | 1964 – 1999
Current Condition: Original mall was demolished and transitioned into an outdoor mall in 1999 and is currently a mixed-use center that is continuing to develop.
Winter Park Village is a redevelopment of the Winter Park Mall that was originally built in 1964, and was the first indoor mall in the Orlando region. Located at 432 North Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, FL, the indoor mall was demolished in 1998, and the first redeveloped stores were built and began to open in 1999. The first redevelopment included 350,000 square feet of retail space, including a 20-screen cinema; 115,000 square feet of offices; and 200+ multifamily units, while the original planning documents included more residential uses. The mall’s redevelopment extended Gay Road into the mall redevelopment, and it was designed as a retail main street with a terminated vista on the Regal Cinema.
In part one of this series, I introduced and described the charrette concept and talked about its benefits for larger planning projects. In this post, I would like to get into what the design studio looks like, how to set up a studio space, the tools you should and could bring, and some lessons learned.
A charrette studio is normally set up as a series of tables, most of which are working tables for team members to sit with their computers and/or drawing tools. The first things normally identified are the electrical outlet locations, as that has the biggest impact on table locations. There is usually a large table dedicated to layout/team gathering discussions or large drawings and models. One or two tables are also set up either on one side or around the corner from the charrette studio to have the technical committees and stakeholder meetings. And finally, there is usually a wall that is kept blank for pinups or to be projected on for a slideshow.
As the charrette is in progress, it is always good practice to cover up the walls with base maps and images and then replace those with each day’s production as the charrette progresses. This helps the design team find information for their work quickly, and also helps to show the public that work is occurring. When we can’t have the studio on the physical site, we have rented bicycles for team members to get to the site, and usually someone on the design team rents a car.
Working in design charrettes is a unique experience usually reserved for architects and planners working in firms aligned with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), using the ideas and procedures codified by Bill Lennertz through the National Charrette Institute (NCI). However, in the last five to eight years I have noticed more landscape architecture services being pulled into the charrette process, and with increasing frequency, landscape architects are leading multidisciplinary charrettes.
A design charrette is a three- to five-day intensive, focused, and collaborative workshop usually held on the project site or as close to the site as possible within the project’s community. The setting and nature of the charrette gets the project’s team members out of the distracted design office environment and into the same room together. Being on site means the project team is designing in public and are able to get immediate feedback from the public and project stakeholders through open studio hours and presentations during charrette week. The charrette process allows team members to access the project site whenever necessary, and it allows for the in-person team collaboration that leads to a better and more coordinated project and higher quality places. From a project management standpoint, a charrette can also be a cheaper and more efficient way to get the majority of project work done, even in light of the travel and lodging costs.
In an effort to re-balance excess car space for people space, Alta Planning + Design redesigned Manassas Street in Memphis from five to three lanes to make way for separated bike lanes on nearly a mile of the street through the Memphis Medical District.
This was the second phase of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative‘s interim design improvements program for the Medical District, which is adjacent to downtown Memphis. The project provides separation of bicyclists and pedestrians from the travel lanes with parked cars and bike lane buffers containing wheel stops and delineators. The project also included bumpouts with concrete domes and planters to shorten the crossing distances for pedestrians and slow vehicle speeds by narrowing the travel space with the vertical bumpout elements. Cat Peña, a local artist, provided the design and installation for an artistic mid-block crossing between Health Sciences Park and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
The project was designed with the guidance from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide and in conjunction with the Memphis City Engineering staff’s advice. The ultimate goals of the project are to encourage active transportation, support the healthy lifestyles goals of the district’s medical institution anchors, and to encourage more mixed-use and multifamily residential development in the district.