Strip malls define our streetscapes. Here, and in suburbs across the country, strip malls are a fact of life. They are the wallflowers of thousands of streetscapes that millions of people travel daily. To envision a new future for this lowly (yet overabundant) building stock, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) initiated the national competition “Flip a Strip” in late 2007 that resulted in 35 innovative proposals by architectural teams from around the country, for flipping local strip malls in Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix, AZ. What potential might there be for live/work developments, urban farming, social spaces and signature architecture in the no-man’s land of the strip mall? Flip a Strip posits exciting opportunities to turn this suburban cliché inside out.
Last week, the competition organizers announced the winners from the ten finalists, invited by SMoCA to further develop a three-dimensional presentation of their projects:
1st Award of Excellence Winner: MOS, New Haven, Connecticut
From MOS’s project description: “In terms of zoning, Urban Battery is a physical structure similar to a power station, vertical greenhouse, and a billboard, all rolled into one. It doesn’t fit into the zoning chart. We believe that Scottsdale zoning is open enough to accommodate the programmatic innovation, even though this proposal is beyond the original intention of the competition. Urban Battery acts as an energy producer, filtering air, housing oxygen regenerating plants, providing bike paths, public gardens within the structure, and stores bioproducts. It also includes an additional building for community events that is attached at the base of the structure. This additional program could be for either teens or seniors dedicated to expanding activities from the neighborhood and accessible through a new bike and walking path, converting the alley into part of an urban infrastructure.”
2nd Award of Excellence Winner: AEDS, New Orleans, Louisiana
3rd Award of Excellence Winner: Aptum Architecture, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and Zurich, Switzerland
1st Merit Award Winner: cityLAB/Roger Sherman Architecture & Urban Design, Santa Monica, California
2nd Merit Award Winner: Miller Hull Partnership, Seattle, Washington
3rd Merit Award Winner: Avery Architecture & Design, Chicago, Illinois
Architecture-Infrastructure-Research, Scottsdale, Arizona
Gould Evans, Phoenix, Arizona
Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, Phoenix, Arizona
Studio Luz Architects, Boston, Massachusetts
Images: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.