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A long-standing approach to urbanism is the archipelago, which acts as a network of strange, viral insertions into a loaded context. For our proj… Read More
A long-standing approach to urbanism is the archipelago, which acts as a network of strange, viral insertions into a loaded context. For our project, we chose to interrogate an 'island' of Brooklyn that occurred at the intersection of vast big-box shopping, blank empty parking lots and a 95'-high elevated train platform. As a way of co-opting these conditions, we designed a hybrid large-scale, stacked series of infrastructural floor plates. This serves to choreograph a vertically-oriented Wal-mart superstore with parking event-surfaces at every level, various other types of shopping experiences, and apartments located above. Each of these divergent types of program are relatively positioned to create distinct, complex environments laterally, not to a coordinated effect, but to seek a synergy that results from the unpredictable mix of the banal, the strange, the affective. In order to maximize and even fetishize difference for the sake of deviation, multiplicity, and identity; shopping and its associated desires mutate as it takes the shape of polychromatic patterns, agglomerates abrupt juxtapositions, and organizes chaotic heterogeneity. This texture of program, parking, and event create a differentiated whole that evokes new collectivities, attempts to breed new audiences, and reinvigorate the discourse surrounding American shopping in a charged site. Read Less
Published:
Everything in its Place:
Wal-(medley mixed-up mélange montage mash-up shopping)mart

The contemporary architect is caught between the platitudes of utopian ideality and the realities of developer logic. This speculative, hyper-mixed-use project bridges those competing discourses by combining the spectacle of commerce, the banal tribulations of parking, and a sentimental nostalgia for urban street life. This programmatic and infrastructural patchwork" a vertically-oriented Wal-mart superstore, a series of big box platforms, cantilevered parking event-surfaces, and a layer of now ubiquitous “luxury lofts”"is a monstrous hybrid enlivened by the friction between disparate audiences and markets. Parking garages, shopping malls, and landscape urbanism become ingredients in a spontaneous assemblage that forms something appropriate to its site and program but that feels altogether foreign.

The project is sited along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn at the intersection of vast big-box shopping, empty horizontal parking lots, and a 95-foot high elevated train platform. To choreograph the movement between these existing conditions and the newly inserted programs, this project uses stacking as its operative technique. The precarious balance between its wide-ranging environments is based on the logic of samples, mash-ups, remixes, and collages without falling into referential aesthetics, remaining equal parts composition and strategy...

Published in thresholds 35 - difference
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
with Alexander Maymind

http://architecture.mit.edu/thresholds