This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Reinventing the strip mall

Traveling exhibition visits UB Anderson Gallery

The winning entry of Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafaildis reimagines the Central Park Plaza in Buffalo. The plaza, pictured above, was demolished recently.

Published: Dec. 6, 2012

“Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall,” a touring exhibition and ideas design competition featuring the winning entry of UB faculty members Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafaildis, is currently on view in the UB Anderson Gallery.

A public reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 6 in the gallery at One Martha Jackson Place near Englewood and Kenmore avenues, Buffalo.

Davidson, clinical assistant professor, and Rafailidis, assistant professor, both in the School of Architecture and Planning, will lead a tour of the exhibition from 4-5 p.m. Dec. 7. The public tour is sponsored by the Urban Image Research Workshop in the UB Humanities Institute.

The competition and exhibition, organized by the City-Region Studies Centre (CRSC) at the University of Alberta, is intended to stimulate and showcase creative proposals for the adaptive reuse of suburban strip malls.

“Free Zoning,” the winning entry by Davidson and Rafailidis, radically reimagines a derelict strip mall in Buffalo as a building quarry. Proclaiming the site free of zoning restrictions, the architects deconstruct and inventory all the building materials on the site and demonstrate how these can be reused to construct community housing.

Long deplored for their inefficient use of space and lack of aesthetic appeal, strip malls are uncelebrated, unloved and overlooked. The CRSC asked the question: How can the car-orientated, nondescript, suburban strip mall be imaginatively reinvented?

Architects, creatives and the general public were invited to propose innovative ideas for the aesthetic reinvention and adaptive reuse of strip malls in their local suburban neighborhoods.

CRSC received more than 100 submissions from 11 different countries. Entrants responded to the competition brief using a range of media, from architectural and graphic design, to photography and video. The 20 submissions in the traveling exhibition show that with creative thinking and design experimentation, there are numerous ways to transform the strip mall to promote walkability, sustainability and community as suburban experience.

The exhibition, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be on display through Feb. 24.

The UB Anderson Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.