TOWN-MALL is a response to a public call for the transformation of Lincoln Square Mall in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, designed by Victor Gruen in 1963. It 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. 

Lincoln Square Mall Transformation in Urbana, Illinois, 2019

Included in the 2019 Rejected Exhibition at the Banvard Gallery at the Knowlton School of Architecture, The Ohio State University. Curated by Team B.

Project Leads: Daniel Jacobs, Brittany Utting