MRS: MODULAR RETAIL SYSTEM

an architectural thesis

A master design project completed in my final graduate year studying at Texas Tech College of Architecture. This was a two semester project that demanded intense research and design periods in order to create a fully realized project. The full project docket is available in pdf format.

Research

The first portion of this project prescribed the student to research and write a thesis and program. Initially I studied commercial architecture with a focus on the nature of strip malls and other “abandoned” forms. From my research I determined that due to the homogenous nature of franchising and the indeterminate cycle of commercialism that the best-suited construction method for retail architecture was a modular one.

Concept

There is one primary concept that drove this project in all phases, the temporal nature of retail architecture. The question of “How do you assemble and remove a building envelope” was the driving force for many of design decisions.

Process

Due to the time constraint and the breadth of this project, I decided to focus most of my design efforts on developing a realistic system of construction. The aesthetics of this project were influenced by structural decisions and previous attempts in the field of modular design.

Final Design

The site begins at a stage of tabula rasa, with a preset mechanical system grid covered by removable grass plots. When a tenant desires retail space, grass plots are replaced with a pre-fabricated module to the specifications of the tenant. When the shop eventually closes the modular panels are removed and what remains is the frame and roof, a trace of the previous tenants occupation.

This covered exterior space is accessible and usable space and sets the stage for easy assembly of a shop for the next eventual tenant. This cycle of assembly and disassembly allows for the site to expand and retract, a cycle echoed by the ebb and flow of the economic market

Implementation

In order to suffice the class requirements this developed system was implemented on a site close to campus. The existing shopping center at 26th + Boston served as an impetus to this design during the research phase so a test of the system here was fitting. The sections and elevations were drawn with this site in mind and the result is a fully realized Modular Retail System on site

Future

I consider this project as chapter one in a field of architecture that has constantly interested me. I am determined that modular, pre-fab construction has huge potential and that commercial, not residential, is the perfect fit for these systems.

In later projects I would like to push not only the structural limits of the MRS but also the conceptual limits as well. How can these modular systems influence urban design? How does the deconstruction and reconstruction process influence other types of buildings? How high can these things stack?

I want to find out