Re-Thinking the Big Box Store

Have you ever wondered would what would happen to the urban environment if big box stores weren’t behemoth rectangular structures? How would their shapes alter the visual landscape? These are questions answered by The Peeling Project, produced by SITE design in the 1970s and 80s. Named for a building in which the facade appeared to be peeling away from the building, the project was comprised of nine commercial spaces built for BEST Products Company, a Richmond-based, hard-goods chain of stores. As the firm explains, “Each of these architectural concepts treated the standard “big box” prototype as the subject matter for an art statement. By means of inversion, fragmentation, displacement, distortions of scale, and invasions of nature – these merchandising structures have been used as a means of commentary on the shopping center strip. By engaging people’s reflex identification with commonplace buildings, the BEST showrooms also explore the social, psychological and aesthetic aspects of architecture. This approach is a way of asking questions and changing public response to the significance of commercial buildings in the suburban environment.” The only question left is where is this project today? For more images check out SITE’s website.

The Peeling Project. Richmond, Virginia. 1971

Inside/Outside Building. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1984

Notch Showroom. Sacramento, California. 1977

Top Image: Indeterminate Facade Building. Houston, Texas, 1974.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    aha i remember studying this in art history classes.

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