Sleeping with the enemy : integrating big-box retail with existing communities

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


The intent of my thesis is to find a way to integrate a large big-box retailer into a community in such a way that it benefits the community as a whole. This must be accomplished within the parameters that mark the store as a viable option for the parent company as well. This ideal must be approached from the philosophy that box stores are a large part of the current American way of life and to let them grow unchecked will signal the inevitable death of downtown retail districts as more and more business gets sucked to the super-stores and the areas immediately surrounding them. To do this we will need to find what benefits a box-store can add to a community and further research and rethink the typically negative aspects of these retail giants to find a way to incorporate them into our downtown shopping districts, without destroying their original feel. With this thesis, it is my intent to create a viable model that allows box stores to act as anchors and catalysts for a downtown area (either existing or built) rather than its death knell.
To do this I will be rethinking a number of design strategies with the seamless integration of community and big-box retail in mind. To this end, I will not be acting to simply find a way to add a box-store and its typical trappings to the end of historic downtown street, but rather to find away to integrate a set of large box stores into a downtown community in such a way that benefits the citizens of that community on every designable level. I will be challenging not only the typical design strategies of a box store, but those of a typical downtown community as well. Seven major design strategies will be looked at during this project, they are: 1. Design for a diversity of use and users 2. Design a safe and secure streetscape that will encourage use. 3. Design a streetscape that accommodates pedestrians as equals with vehicle traffic. 4. Design a destination, not just a path. 5. Design it well. 6. Balance supply with demand. 7. Use aesthetics as an integration tool. With these design strategies, a box store can become an integral part of a downtown community ... or at least a much better alternative to the rampant sprawl that occurs with their current implementation strategy.




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