Open Collections

UBC Graduate Research

Unboxing America : the orientation of box stores and their sites Howell, Robert Don 2019-04

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata


42591-Howell_Robert_ARCH_549_Unboxing_America_2019.pdf [ 15.41MB ]
JSON: 42591-1.0378522.json
JSON-LD: 42591-1.0378522-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 42591-1.0378522-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 42591-1.0378522-rdf.json
Turtle: 42591-1.0378522-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 42591-1.0378522-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 42591-1.0378522-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

UNBOXING AMERICATHE REORIENTATION OF BOX STORES AND THEIR SITESROBERT DON HOWELLB.Sc., The University of Utah, 2016SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARCHITECTUREinTHE FACULTY OF APPLIED SCIENCE Sherry McKay, AnnaLisa Meyboom, Sara Stevens, Alan Davies, and Michael FugetaTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAVancouver, British Columbia, Canada© Robert Don Howell, 2019AnnaLisa Meyboom, Committee Chair !LANȩ$AVIES, Committee -EMBERiiBox stores are a common fi xture in rural and suburban American communities with commensurately large parking lots, often 2 to 3 times the size of the store.  Recent online shopping trends and shifts in the retail landscape have placed pressure on these retailers to adapt to consumer demands such as product delivery directly to consumers and an increased online presence.  Simultaneously, e-commerce companies like Amazon are looking to gain a stronger foothold in the market by expanding their physical store presence.The recent fi lings for bankruptcy by once prominent brick and mortar retailers have left thousands of box stores vacant throughout North America.  These unoccupied structures can be a blight in the fabric of the community they once served.  This project imagines the reorientation of a now vacated K-Mart in Utah, USA as a prototype for box stores as they adapt to accommodate local product distribution.  It also envisions a re-urbanization of the site in order to benefi t the community at large.ABSTRACTBOX STORES AND THEIR SITESiiiii22iii262940ivv314212346781011121820TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT SELECTING A SITETABLE OF CONTENTSAN ABANDONED BOX STORETHE BOX STORE REIMAGINEDBIBLIOGRAPHYLIST OF TABLESLIST OF FIGURESDESIGN INTERVENTIONAPPENDICESINTRODUCTIONTHESISFIELD OF INQUIRYARCHITECTURAL ISSUESPROJECT APPROACHSCHEDULE“I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE”SEARS ROEBUCKINFORMATION TECHNOLOGYDISTRIBUTION AND DATA NETWORKSAUTONOMOUS VEHICLE PRODUCT DELIVERYTHE FUTURE OF RETAILPART ONE: RESEARCH AND CONTEXTPART TWO: DESIGN INTERVENTIONivLIST OF TABLESSCHEDULE 7Table 1vLIST OF FIGURESBOX STOREFigure 1 2591012121314151617181920222323242525262728293031323333343536373738383939Figure 2Figure 3Figure 4Figure 5Figure 6Figure 7Figure 8Figure 9Figure 10Figure 11Figure 12Figure 13Figure 14Figure 15Figure 16Figure 17Figure 18Figure 19Figure 20Figure 21Figure 22Figure 23Figure 24Figure 25Figure 26Figure 27Figure 28Figure 29Figure 30Figure 31Figure 32Figure 33Figure 34Figure 35Figure 36Figure 37Figure 38FUTURE SORTING CENTERINTERNET NETWORKSEARS3PLsINVESTMENTWALMART AND AMAZONDISTRIBUTION CENTERDISTRIBUTION HIERARCHYINVERTED MODELCELL NETWORKAEVsNO DRONE ZONERETAIL TO DISTRIBUTIONBOX STORE OVERLAYLOGAN UTAHLOGAN ZONINGMAIN STREET LOGANSECTIONS ACROSS MAINFACADESKMARTEXISTING 9 BLOCKSEXISTING BLOCKUPS, FEDEX, KMARTUPS, FEDEX, KMART OVERLAYSITE PLANDISTRIBUTION HUBSTORAGE MATRIXWALK-IN PICK-UPON-SITE HOUSINGSUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMMING9 BLOCKS COMPARISONBLOCK COMPARISONWEST-EAST SECTION100 EAST LOOKING SOUTHEAST110 N. MAIN ST. LOOKING SOUTH100 EAST LOOKING NORTH100 EAST ELEVATION1American consumers stand today at an intersection of consumption and convenience. At this intersection sits the “box store,” a temple to an obsession with consumer products, and a monument to hyper effi cient logistics networks where distances are measured not in miles, but in minutes.Box stores, such as Walmart, are the fi nal stop in a world wide distribution hierarchy.  They are a unique link in the chain because of their requirement to interface with the consumer.  Even with the onset of Amazon and other online retailers, some shopping models still require the consumer to travel to a store (typically in an automobile) to purchase goods and produce.  Increasingly, new models of delivering products directly to consumers are providing ways to travel the “fi nal mile”; which is to say, the distance between a customer’s home and a point where product is distributed.  Instead of going to the product, the product now comes to you.  This paradigm shift will have profound effects on box stores as they transform to accommodate ways of completing the “fi nal mile” and new demands of eCommerce.Many disparate factors such as distribution and merchandising collide at the box store as it mediates between these forces. To accommodate new demands for convenience in delivering orders, box stores will adopt new technologies such as drone and autonomous vehicle product deliveries.  Still however, a physical presence, often called “brick and mortar”, will likely be a part of a retailer’s strategic approach to capture the consumer market both on and offl ine.This paper explores the background context that has set the stage for online shopping and distribution-based retail typologies.  It also begins to speculate on changes that will occur to the box store typology and what forces will drive those changes.INTRODUCTIONPART ONERESEARCH AND CONTEXT2E-commerce sales are on a strong upward trend in the US  with the advent of online shopping.1  As a result, domestic deliveries have risen proportionally.  Box stores will necessarily undergo transformations to accommodate new, distribution-based retail. Similarly, the sites on which the box stores sit will also transform to reinvigorate the community.THESIS1 “Global Retail E-commerce Market Size 2014-2021.” Statista, 2018, accessed October 24, 2018, 1, BOX STORE: Present and future forces at play on the box storeonline order fulfillmentreceivingonline order fulfillmentdeliverydrone deliverytraditional retail/online order pickupgrocery & produce retail/online pickup supplemental programmingreceiving3FIELD OF INQUIRYOver the last 50 years the landscape of North American consumerism has seen drastic change.  Shopping malls took root in urban and suburban America, only to be largely abandoned in favor of more convenience-oriented retail, such as box stores that rose to prominence in the latter part of the 20th century. Like the malls before them however, large box stores are being replaced by new shopping preferences such as online retail.  The recent fi lings for bankruptcy by Sears and Kmart and a myriad of other retail outlets alike indicate a failing of retailers to adapt to new market demands and trends, including the Internet as a new market.This project is an investigation into the new landscape of retail as it moves away from large box store typologies to more infrastructure dependent systems in the age of the Internet. Additionally it encompasses social issues surrounding box stores such as the subcultures they breed and their proclivity toward suburban and rural demographics.What began as an interest in abandoned box stores and perhaps a adaptive reuse of them, the project has become more concerned with the reorientation of existing box stores to adapt to online retail shopping.  It also looks at retail distribution networks and the movement of goods from manufacturer to end user through third party logistics companies as well as proprietary distribution.  It examines the fl ow of the distribution hierarchy, with a focus on box stores within the larger context. More specifi cally, it is an investigation into box stores and how they will transform to facilitate more product deliveries to consumers.I will be exploring how infrastructure and retail locations will work together to bring products from manufacturer to consumer and the points of exchange along the way.  The advent of shipping direct to consumer and the adaptation to online markets will fundamentally change box typologies; my project will explore these changes spatially.With autonomous vehicle product delivery on the horizon, I envision box stores acting as small distribution hubs for more deliveries.  My project will investigate how the arrival and departure from these points will formally affect the box store and what supporting systems will be required for their operation.42 Margery Al. Chalabi, Just-in-time Real Estate: How Trends in Logistics Are Driv-ing Industrial Development (Washington: ULI - Urban Land Institute, 2004), 71.Box stores as a typology are relatively straightforward in their construction.  Four CMU walls enclose a rigid system of HSS columns.  Open web steel girders, beams and joists then support a simple roof deck and membrane assembly.  Typically only the front facade receives any treatment in terms of design and customization to its surrounding context.My project will consider all 5 facades, including the roof.  The roof, though it serves now as a supporting facade for HVAC and communications equipment, will be a central element to my project.  With the incorporation of drone technology for product deliveries and possibly transportation, the roof can serve a new role beyond simply providing shelter and a surface for support systems.  This will require a re-imagining or relocation of HVAC systems and data communications equipment.The box store in its simplicity, however, is a highly legible building ripe with possibility for incorporating other interesting programmatic juxtapositions.  One such juxtaposition is the RV or “Van Life” (a more contemporary manifestation of RVing) subculture that uses the parking lot for overnight camping.  This unoffi cial company policy that allows vehicles to park overnight stems from Sam Walton, the company’s founder, who was an avid RVer.  If trends continue with more product deliveries and customers no longer come to the store as frequently, the parking lot could be formalized to cater to these subcultures and capture a younger demographic that is attracted by “Van Life”.Box stores share architectural similarities with other similar typologies.  For example, a distribution center typically has fl oor to ceiling heights of 24 feet which is common within Walmart formats along with a bay structure of roughly 50’x50’.  However fulfi llment centers can have fl oor to ceiling heights from 32 feet up to 40 feet.2  Box stores currently handle all shipping and receiving through the back of the store and pallets of goods are brought out onto the store fl oors to restock the shelves. This typically happens late at night when there aren’t as many customers.  Receiving and shipping formats will be revamped with the onset of autonomous robots and shipping to consumers from box stores.ARCHITECTURAL ISSUES5Average shipment sizes and weights have been declining in recent years, infl uenced by new product technology, miniaturization, and design effi ciencies.  Order sizes are also decreasing, while delivery frequencies are increasing.3  These trends spur demand for close-by, fast-throughput facilities equipped for the swift handling and processing of small packages.  This trend will change a box store’s role in the product distribution chain requiring more sorting systems and streamlined shipping and receiving.Distribution centers in China have already implemented a system of autonomous package sorting robots that scan a package and navigate across an open fl oor to deposit the package down a chute where a delivery truck awaits.  The packages are currently placed on each robot by humans as they travel down a conveyor belt but one can imagine that this process will soon be automated as well.The self-charging robots can sort up to 200,000 packages per day in the 21,000 square foot facility.4  Unlike their human counterparts, the robots never tire and are able to operate 24/7. Instead of humans unloading trucks, and with new demands to redistribute products to consumers, the space within a box store could look different with robots performing the tasks instead of humans.These issues, among others which are sure to be uncovered along the way, are the main focus of my project.Figure 2, FUTURE SORTING CENTER: A conceptual automated sorting facility where drones and robots unload, sort and ship products to customers.3 Ibid, 86.4 Yvette Tan, “Watch an Army of Robots Effi ciently Sorting Hundreds of Thou-sands of Packages,” Mashable, September 22, 2017, accessed November 13, 2018, fi rst explorations into the designs will be done through hand sketches and digital collages to uncover new forms and ideas.  This loose idea creation process will serve as a springboard for more formal architectural drawings to follow.Computer drawings, both architectural and diagrammatic, will be the primary form of a working methodology to formalize the ideas and facilitate critique of the designs.  Physical modeling will supplement the drawings where critical spatial examination is required and a model will be suitable for explanation.Calculations will also be made if any changes are proposed to the existing structure to ensure its feasibility.  These calculations will determine load capacities, span length and depth of structural members.Digital renderings, will also accompany the drawings to help further understand the spatial implications of the design.  They will also work to express materiality and lighting in the spaces.PROJECT APPROACHAND WORKING METHODOLOGY7SCHEDULEW1* mapping/site analysisJan 2-4W2Jan 7-11W3Jan 14-18W4 analog design/sketchingJan 21-25W5 digital and phsyicalmodelingJan 28 - Feb 1W6Feb 4-8W7* Appendix DFeb 11-15W8Feb 18-22W9*Feb 25 - Mar 1W10 digital and phsyicalmodelingMar 4-8W11 digital and phsyicalmodeling2D/3D drawings2D/3D drawingsMar 11-15W12Mar 18-22W13Mar 25-29W14Apr 1-5W15Apr 8-12W16Apr 15-19project review and site analysiscommittee meeting #1 (away 11-16) conceptual design/schematic designprogramming/design development, committee meeting #2production in preparation for interim reviewinterim review February 13midterm breakstructural analysis/design development, committee meeting #3design developmentdesign developmentdesign developmentproduction in preparation for final reviewfinal review April 19-20deadline for final report: April 26 at 12pm (noon)committee meeting #4production in preparation for final reviewTable 1, SCHEDULE: Tentative schedule outlining the design process8NORMAN BEL GEDDES AND THE WORLD’S FAIRIn 1939 General Motors opened a provocative exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.  Designed by Norman Bel Geddes, it enabled visitors to see Geddes’s vision of the future in 1960, a short 20 years later.  The exhibit transported users through a 35,000 square foot model of green fi elds, mountain passes and cities reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City.  Though the exhibit’s aspirations were perhaps a bit ambitious for such a short amount of time, it aimed to “transport the viewer into an imagined future, albeit one which was dominated by…mass consumption…and an unyielding ideology of technological progress.”5Flow was a central theme of the exhibit that envisioned a sprawling network of roads with evenly spaced automobiles traveling swiftly along motorways, and merging fl uidly onto large expressways.  Automated farms and other futuristic visions for both urban and rural settings were also on display.Were this exhibit presented today, what might we see instead?  Its vision was well ahead of its time but would not be so far-fetched today.  Instead of lumbering automobiles piloted by humans, we may see a continuous stream of autonomous vehicles.  Enabled by the ability to communicate, they follow closely in line with one another and merge seamlessly.  Perhaps we may see drones buzzing above like a scene out of Star-Wars.  Both the drones and the vehicles are carrying passengers as well as products out for delivery.  In the world of 2038 the products come to us only minutes after we’ve ordered them.Parking lots and city streets relinquish their grip on the landscape. Replaced by walkable greenways and parks, pedestrian traffi c reclaims its position as the driving force for city and urban planners.While there are a number of obstacles, both regulatory and technological, that must be overcome in order for this future to come to pass, it may very closely mirror Geddes’s 1939 prophecies.“I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE”5 Nicolas P. Maffei, ““I Have Seen the Future”: Norman Bel Geddes’ “Futurama” as Immersive Design.” Design and Culture 4, no. 1 (2012): 79-829A PROPHETIC VISIONShopping of the future was also predicted by Paul Baran, a pioneer in computer networking, in 1968:Imagine consumers in the year 2000.  Much of the shopping will be done from home via TV display.  Think of this screen as a general purpose genie.  Pressing a few buttons on a keyboard allows interaction with a powerful information processing network.  The information network sends back a modifi ed image to the TV display in response to selections…Anything we may wish to know about a product can be displayed on our TV. 6Baran’s prophecy, while a bit antiquated, is eerily accurate both in its description of user experience and predicted time of arrival.  The birth of the Internet in the 1990s paved the way for this “powerful information processing network” we know today.  Information and customer reviews are readily accessible by a smartphone or computer which drastically changes the way we interact with products.  Instead of handling products, many only view them digitally before making a purchase.  Younger generations seem more comfortable buying online without ever physically interacting with the products.  Social media can also play a strong role in infl uencing purchases for younger generations.In many ways, the proliferation of the Internet network that enabled Amazon and other online retailers’ success is akin to the road network expansion that crawled over the nation in the 1950s and 60s catalyzing the growth of box stores and other chain store outlets.  Both retail revolutions were preceded by an expansion of a vast network.  Today, almost 90% of adults in the US use the Internet regularly.76 Paul Baran, “Some Changes in Information Technology Affecting Marketing in the Year 2000,” RAND Corporation, January 01, 1968, 19-20, accessed October 24, 2018, “Demographics of Internet and Home Broadband Usage in the United States,” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, February 05, 2018, accessed October 15, 2018, 3, INTERNET NETWORK: Amazon’s distribution centers (orange) have emerged congruently at the hubs of the Internet in the United States, called In-ternet Exchange Points (IXPs) (black).10THE AMAZON FORERUNNERSEARS ROEBUCKOf course, delivery of products and services directly to the consumer is not a new idea, but certainly one that has gained more traction in the 20th and 21st centuries with the invention of the car, the proliferation of the Internet and sprawling interconnected logistics networks.  The humble beginnings of consumer product delivery were, however, a harbinger for our day.8 https://fi U.S. Census Bureau; Census 1990; Population: 1790 to 1990, Population and Housing Unit Counts, Table 4.10 “America’s Mailing Industry,” The Mailing Industry and the United States Post-al Service, accessed October 24, 2018, Ron Grossman, “Sears Was the of the 20th Century,” Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2017, accessed October 25, 2018, ash-back-perspec-0514-jm-20170512-story.html.12 “America’s Mailing Industry”At the end of the 19th century (1896), mail delivery to the rural countryside began.  65% of the US population still lived in rural areas9 and the “Rural Free Delivery” (RFD) service was a bellwether for larger parcel delivery called Parcel Post that began in 1913.10 Sears sent out catalogs to families in rural communities who would pore over its pages of products previously inaccessible to them for geographic reasons.  Through a mail order form they could purchase these catalog items.  In 1906 Sears, Roebuck and Co. was receiving 75,000 letters a day.11Sears even offered free home delivery through the RFD service which created even more demand on the Postal Service.  This convenience was a welcomed change to the delivery model that preceded it which required a trip into town to pick up the mail (a large undertaking for many rural residents).  Parcel Post delivery further catalyzed the mail order phenomenon that saw Sears fi ll fi ve times as many orders in 1913 than it had the year before.12Figure 4, SEARS: Seattle, Washington c. 1937 A Sears, Roebuck and Company delivery truck backed up to a loading dock.811EARLY INVESTMENT PAYS OFFINFORMATION TECHNOLOGYThough the shift towards online shopping began in the 1990s, its framework had been laid decades earlier.  By the time the age of the Internet arrived, companies who had not invested in information technology were not poised for the new online markets and had a lower chance to thrive.  The transmission and storage of information became a strategic factor in the new market and as with any investment, the reward came to those who were in early.Walmart, for example, had begun investing in computing technology as far back as 1966; the fi rst of its industry to automate many of the internal processes.  Kmart’s investments in technology didn’t come until 1978.13Walmart’s investment in information technology paid dividends in its ability to communicate over its logistics networks.  The data allowed them to determine the need of products throughout their store network in real time.  Communication lines were also opened between suppliers and distribution centers, between stores and distribution centers and even between stores.  These lines of communication created a large web that sprawled across the US; a dynamic nationwide network of product inventory.  Instead of storing products in hopes that customers would buy, the product was delivered in response to customer demand.  The mobile tractor trailer fl eets effectively became mobile warehouses strategically tuned to the individual stores’ needs. In effect, the data made the decisions for them.  As for Kmart’s upper management and how they utilized internal data, they ultimately chose to ignore it.14   This is one of just many of Kmart’s missteps but not utilizing customer data could be the largest contributor to its failure.Robust data storage and communications, along with access to the Internet for customers and store management are key components moving forward for the box store typology. Interacting with a product physically is no longer as important to younger generations as being able to access information about the product or seeing their friend using the same product.  This phenomenon could have wide ranging implications for how product is displayed and merchandised to younger shoppers.13 Marcia Layton Turner, Kmart’s Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Ruined an American Icon (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), 123. 14 Ibid., 129.1215, accessed November 2, 2018, Walmart has invested in its own tractor/trailer fl eet to transport products, third party logistics (3PL) companies like FedEx, UPS, and the US postal service are highly integral to the success of Amazon and other online outlets.  This is an important difference between the two retailers, that Amazon is heavily reliant on 3PLs versus Walmart’s ability to lean on its proprietary logistical network.  Over the last few years however Amazon has increased spending in proprietary logistics.15$5B2014 2015 2016 2017$10B$15BFigure 6, INVESTMENT: Amazon has increased its investment in its own logistics operations dramatically in recent yearsFigure 5, 3PLs: Third party logistics companies are integral to the success of Amazon and other online retailers.These 3PL and proprietary entities fulfi ll what is called the fi nal mile in the distribution hierarchy.  But the intricate network of the distribution hierarchy is complex and layered; so much so that it has given rise to a new market of fourth party logistic (4PL) companies that act as consultants for other companies such as Amazon where time and punctuality of deliveries are hallmarks of its brand.PENETRATION INTO THE LANDSCAPEThe ease with which product is available to us we often take for granted; that any given item could have been hundreds or even thousands of miles away the day before we bought it.  This is the world of logistics that has come to defi ne our global consumer culture.In the globalized economy, retailers’, such as Amazon and Walmart, supply chains are far reaching and extremely complex. Driven by an intense competition for just-in-time delivery, retailers and their suppliers work cooperatively.DISTRIBUTION AND DATA NETWORKS13Walmart’s robust distribution network has grown to reach far into the American landscape and as such it leads the industry. Others fi nd themselves playing catch up to its logistics networks. Just as integral to its physical networks are the data networks that have accompanied its growth throughout the country.  As Jesse LeCavelier notes “Walmart’s early adoption of the bar code allowed the retailer to imagine the objects of its network not just as inventory but also as information to be managed through both logistics protocols and facilities.”16  The quicker in which this “data” can fl ow, the more productive are the operations which in turn leads to an increased bottom line.16 Jesse LeCavalier, The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Ful-fi llment (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 27.17 Brian Deagon, “Amazon Vs. Walmart: Locking Horns In A Battle For Retail’s Future | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis - IBD,” Investor’s Business Daily, No-vember 27, 2018, , accessed September 24, 2018, 7, WALMART AND AMAZON: “It does seem like Amazon has more momentum but it also seems like it would be easier for Walmart to expand its online business than for Amazon to expand its presence in physical stores.”17 Above: Walmart locations and a 50 mile radius.  Below: Amazon’s distribution and fulfi llment center locations.14The distribution network that Walmart has developed bears a striking resemblance to a distributed network found in data communications.  Paul Baran identifi es the distributed network as the ideal network for data transfer due to its redundancy and resilience.  The ability of the network to adapt is its hallmark.  In the event any of the nodes go down, the data is able to route around the disabled node(s) and transmission continues. Figure 8, DISTRIBUTION CENTER: Distribution centers paired with their fl eet of tractor/trailers has given Walmart a competitive advantage in the retail industry.If Walmart applies the same methodology to delivering products to consumers with the same rigor that they’ve built their store network and distribution around, they would have an even further-reaching penetration into the consumer product market.15Figure 9, DISTRIBUTION HIERARCHY: The “fi nal mile” is the last link to be completed in a global distribution chain.Central Place Theory, is “the theory of the location, size, nature, and spacing of [different] clusters of activity”18.  One of these activities, retail, has long been an equilibrium adjustment to the distribution of consumers arising at accessible points with maximum proximity to elements of locality.  It is no coincidence to see box stores emerging near interstates and access to railways for shipping and frequency of traffi c to their stores.Population gives rise to new retail offerings and new retail offerings attract more people in a self-reinforcing cycle. This cycle increases the threshold of a geographical region, which is the minimum population that an area must have in order to sustain a given order of goods.  Low thresholds (population) yield the availability of lower order goods such as a toothbrush, whereas higher order goods require a higher threshold.Different orders of goods have an inherent range to them.  This range is the geographical distance that a consumer is willing to travel to purchase a product.  It is the economic reach of a product.  For example, you might be willing to travel further to purchase a piece of furniture or specialty product that either is not available in your immediate range, or that you would have better selection as your range increases.CENTRAL PLACE THEORY18 Brian Joe Lobley Berry, Geography of Market Centers and Retail Location, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1967), 3.FIRST MILEMIDDLE MILEFINAL MILE16FREQUENCYWalmart’s distribution network has already disrupted this theory by offering an array of products that typically would not have been available for a given threshold.  Its range also encompasses more consumers. As Walmart’s reach expands, it has left in its wake many smaller retailers that are now out of business and who do not have the resources or backing of a large corporation.  By consolidating the orders of goods offered, Walmart circumvented the need to travel long distances to pick up certain items or to make multiple trips.  Now, a single trip every other week to Walmart could permit a consumer to pick up all of their necessities.Figure 10, INVERTED MODEL: Walmart’s consolidation and Amazon’s inversion of traditional shopping modes have fundamentally change how we buy products.17Amazon further subverts Central Place Theory by giving consumers access to millions of products right at their fi ngertips. With no threshold limit, customers can buy all sorts of goods that are not immediately available to them in their given locale.  This is perhaps one of the most profound consequences of online shopping and product delivery.  Almost any product can come to you.Figure 11, CELL NETWORK: Cell tower locations in the US.  Viewing these nodes as “market centers” for online retail, Amazon’s market penetration rivals Walmart’s physical store presence.18To complete the “fi nal mile” of delivery, third party logistics (3PL) companies like FedEx and UPS and the US Postal Service rely on delivery trucks operated by human drivers who also deliver the packages door to door.  This model has been around for almost a century and is showing its age.  In the hyper effi cient networks of today it is emerging as a bottle neck both in time and cost for 3PLs.19Many companies have been testing autonomous vehicles with varied degrees of success in their efforts.  Most recently, Walmart and Ford have teamed up to test its grocery delivery service using self-driving vehicles.  Logistics companies and other private entities alike are all investing in the development of autonomous vehicles.  Despite recent strides in electric vehicle technology, one being the increase in range (from a median range of 73 miles in 2011 to 114 miles in 201720), still several technological hurdles stand in the way.  Issues of safety and security also prevail amid public opinion regarding driverless vehicles integrating with human-operated vehicles and pedestrians.Automation exists in different levels, identifi ed by the Society of Automotive Engineers, ranging from Level 0 (no automation) which requires human operator to be in control of all operations, to Level 5 (full automation) where the vehicle TECHNOLOGICAL AND REGULATORY HURDLESAUTONOMOUS VEHICLE PRODUCT DELIVERY19 Shelagh Dolan, “The Challenges of Last Mile Logistics & Delivery Technol-ogy Solutions,” Business Insider, May 10, 2018, accessed November 15, 2018, “FOTW #1008, December 18, 2017: Median All-Electric Vehicle Range Grew from 73 Miles in Model Year 2011 to 114 Miles in Model Year 2017,” Department of Energy, , accessed November 16, 2018, Melanie May, “The 6 Levels of Self-driving Car - and What They Mean for Mo-torists,”, accessed November 15, 2018, 12, AEVs: Autonomous vehicles like the illustration above, could soon make product deliveries door to door.19DRONEScan both navigate and operate without any human input.21When fully automated cars are fi nally deployed, it is easy to see they will have profound effects throughout delivery and transportation networks at large.  Whereas deliveries now are dependent on human delivery men and women and constraints of traditional delivery times, autonomous deliveries open a world of possibilities where deliveries could occur around the clock on any day of the week.22 United States Federal Aviation Administration. Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107). Washington: U.S. F.A.A., 2016.In 2016, Zipline, a drone startup company, created a national drone delivery system to ship blood and drugs to remote medical centers in Rwanda. It has developed what it claims is the world’s fastest commercial delivery drone, with a top speed just shy of 80 miles an hour.At this rate, even if a customer lived 50 miles away from a box store that was capable of drone delivery, your order could be delivered in under an hour.Figure 13, NO DRONE ZONE:  Regulations are presently prohibitive for drones in the United States.Presently, drone regulations are very prohibitive to commercial drone deliveries.  Among other regulations, drones may not fl y within 5 miles of an airport, and must stay in sight of the drone operator.  They also cannot fl y higher than 400 feet. 22 These regulations could prove diffi cult for companies that wish to use them for deliveries.  Still, drone delivery is a promising technology that Amazon has even fi led patents for.20Ludwig von Mises, a 20th century economist, has said, “the luxury of today is the necessity of tomorrow.”23  What used to be a novelty, now online shopping and product delivery seems to be commonplace.  With 2-day shipping promises from Amazon (sometimes even same day shipping), the bar continues to be raised for satisfying customer demands for convenience and immediacy.eCommerce shows no signs of slowing.  The ratio of retail fl oor space to distribution space has been on a steady decline since the 1970s.24  By 2021 it is expected that 230.5 million people per year will have browsed, compared, or bought products online, making the US one of the leading eCommerce markets in the world.25THE FUTURE OF RETAIL23 Ludwig Von Mises and Bettina Bien. Greaves, Liberalism: The Classical Tradi-tion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Incorporated, 2014).24 “The Walmart Distribution Center Network in the United States,” Walmart Distribution Center Network USA | MWPVL International, accessed October 24, 2018, ”Number of Digital Shoppers in the U.S. 2021 | Statistic,” Statista, accessed October 24, 2018, 1980 1990 2000 20104. Internet as a market will continue to have infl uence on physical brick-and-mortar retail.  Once the pendulum settles between online shopping and physical retail outlets,  it will yield a new typology that will take its place in the succession of retail typologies.The hybrid of the two, sometimes called “click-and-mortar”, is likely to be the outcome of the battle between Amazon’s online presence and Walmart’s physical store network.  These two juggernauts are vying to win over the consumer.Figure 14, RETAIL TO DISTRIBUTION: Retail fl oor space has given way to more distribution-oriented fl oor area since the 1970s.21We can already see both Amazon and Walmart, along with other box stores such as Target experimenting with curbside online order pickup and in-store pickup kiosks.  But these are just the beginning of changes that we will see in the next 20 years.I aspire to the same spirit of the vision Norman Bel Geddes had in his 1939 World’s Fair exhibit as he looked steadfastly 20 years into the future.  I hope to uncover some aspects of a retail typology that will be made manifest in the near future as box stores transform and adapt to online retail.22Logan City, is a city in Cache County, Utah, United States founded in 1859 by Mormon settlers. The 2010 census recorded the population as 48,174 with an estimated population of 48,997 in 2014. By 2050 the population of Logan is expected to double.A largely agricultural community, Logan is emblematic of many rural and suburban communites in the United States (and North America) who have relied on box stores for consumer goods.Having been raised in this community, I am familiar with its workings and culture as well as the urban and residential fabric that make up the built environment.In order to envision the future of the box store and to test the future (and present) forces at play, a site is selected for the implementation of a design intervention.Due to the nature of box stores, they share many similar characteristics.  Some of which are: large parking lots (often 2-3 times the size of the store itself), “pod” sites in the parking lot for other commercial retail, and the sites are generally bordered by one or more main thoroughfares.Because of this, a site can be chosen almost at random.  That is to say, the intervention can be applied generally across all box store sites with minor variation based on local context.LOGAN, UTAHSELECTING A SITEPART TWODESIGN INTERVENTIONFigure 15, 25 BOX STORE OVERLAY: An overlay of 25 box stores reveals patterns in the sites.23Figure 16, LOGAN UTAH: A typical rural community where box stores have been the main outlet for consumer goods.Figure 17, LOGAN ZONING: Residential community centered on a spine of commercial, with an industrial zone and university.Arranged in a rigid grid, Logan’s zoning is primarily residential with a large commercial corridor running down Main street. Additionally, there is an industrial zone to the west.Utah State University (originally an agricultural college), in Logan, provides an infl ux of students in the school year and employment for community members as well.2.5 mi.0RESIDENTIALINDUSTRIALCOMMERCIAL24A-AB-BC-C.5 mi0Figure 18, MAIN STREET LOGAN: Main street is the main thoroughfare through Logan around which the commercial corridor is centered.Passing through Logan from south to north, the fabric along Main Street begins to space out as the box stores dominate the landscape with their large parking lots.This is shown below in the three sections, A-A, B-B, and C-C. Though never extremely dense at any one point, section C-C (cut through the downtown) is much more dense than both B-B and A-A (cut through box store sites).It is my aspiration to restore some of this urban fabric to the box store sites in addition to their reorientation to smaller more nimble distribution centers. 25A-AB-B C-CMAIN STREETSITESITETYPICAL BOX STORE LOTSDOWNTOWN URBAN FABRIC600 ft(1 city block)0Main differences can be noted in the vegetation that is more present downtown in contrast to the lack of trees as you move north.  The more consdensed residential also contrasts the more spaced out comercial lots.Figure 19, SECTIONS ACROSS MAIN: Moving north along Main Street, the urban fabric spreads out.Figure 20, FACADES: The disparity in character of the two facades shows the box store has room for improvement.Part of what makes main streets across the United States appealing is the charm that their storefronts have.  The variation in facades makes for a quaint, walkable setting for consumers to duck in and out of shops.This Main Street setting contrasts with the box store’s facade which is relatively austere and uninviting.  It is a closed off barrier with generally only one or two entrances which does not make it inviting to walk along.Part of the reimagning of the box store includes addressing the front facade facing the rest of the site.  Drawing from these elements of downtown Main Street will help inform the front facade treatment of the box store.MAIN STREET FACADE26The site that I have selected to implement my design is an abandoned Kmart in the north end of Logan.This location was one of many casualties of Kmart’s efforts to stay afl oat fi nancially before fi ling for bankruptcy in late 2018. It sits on Main Street and 1800 North in Logan and is bordered by both commercial property to the north and south as well as residential property to the east.  Across the street to the west is an agricultural property.Growing up in Logan, I have memories of visiting this particular Kmart with my family.  Now, visiting Logan I drive past the vacant lot which sits empty while weeds creep up through the cracks in the pavement.Many other community members share similar sentiments about its loss.  This illustrates that while box stores are typically thought of as faceless retail stores compared to “mom and pop” stores, they do serve as fi xtures within the community.And so, for years I have wondered what is to be done with this site?  My intervention seeks a real-world, practical answer to this question that, given current trends, could ultimately be realized.AN ABANDONED BOX STOREFigure 21, KMART: This abandoned Kmart has sat vacant for years as a blight on the community.27Figure 22, EXISTING 9 BLOCKS: The existing site sits within a low density commercial and residential area.As it is sited now, the lot Kmart is on is situated within a lower density commercial and residential area on the north end of Logan’s Main Street.  Flanked on the north and south sides are commercial areas.Immediately to the south sits another box store which houses the department stores Kohls and Bed Bath and Beyond and one block directly south is a Walmart.  Several other large commercial buildings similar to box stores occupy nearby lots.Immediately behind Kmart is a storage unit facilty which separates Kmart from a housing block of duplex houses and apartments.  To the northeast, as well as immediately to the west are two agricltural fi elds.NTS28NTSFigure 23, EXISTING BLOCK: The existing site sits within a low density commercial/residential area.The immediate conditions of the site are oriented towards parking and circulation of vehicular traffi c.  In that Logan is a rural community, it is still quite dependant on personal automobiles. There is a public transit stop directly in front of Kmart along main street.The pavement is replete with painted parking stalls.  Pitiful attempts at landscaping within a sea of pavement dot the parking lot.  The three pod sites that sit on the lot adjacent to Main Street are two restaurants and a bank.  On the southeast corner of the block is a private health club.The residential block directly to the east of Kmart also has little landscaping and in general is underwhelming.  While it is within walking distance to some retail and other shops, it is relatively isolated.Access to the Kmart for tractor-trailer deliveries is directly behind the box stores in a pseudo alleyway that bisects the block.29UPS DISTRIBUTION FACILITY6,900 sf.FEDEX DISTRIBUTION FACILITY20,400 sf.KMART RETAIL STORE95,600 sf.Given the current trends in retail and based on my research I envision box stores to be transformed into smaller more nimble distribution hubs for larger ecommerce retailers.  These distribution hubs act as small warehouses to distribute goods through delivery, drive-up and walk-in customers.This model allows retailers to maximize fl oor space for products and fulfi ll online orders more quickly and effeciently.Two of the largest third party logistics distributors that deliver packages for retailers such as Amazon have distribution centers in Logan that serve the greater area.  These facilities are detailed below.Compared to the size of these facilities Kmart is more than large  enough to serve as a distirbution center for the same geographic area.  While most of the space will be dedicated to housing product and further distribution, some of the space can also be allocated to smaller retail.UPS AND FEDEX IN LOGANTHE BOX STORE REIMAGINEDFigure 24, UPS, FEDEX, KMART: UPS and FedEX are two of the largest third party distributors for ecommerce companies.30Figure 25, UPS, FEDEX, KMART OVERLAY: A direct comparison of Kmart to UPS and FedEx distribution centers shows it has more than enough space.Because order frequency is also rising with ecommerce, it is important for the new box store facilites to be more nimble and have effecient throughput for inventory turnover and delivery.However, the future of retail still provides for some physical retail shops since there will always be leisure shoppers who like to shop as an activity, as well as those who wish to handle goods before purchasing.So, within the same box store must be provisions for receiving, distributing and also retail shops along with all the supporting programming for such operations.31on of fonoffEXISTINGRESTAURANTNEWRESTAURANTNEWRESTAURANTEXISTINGRESTAURANTNEW CLINIC/PHARMACYEXISTINGBANKNEWDAYCAREPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSING1800 N.MAIN ST.PROPOSEDHOUSINGONLINEPICKUPGROCERYCAFESALONSHOESGYMYOGABARBERCLOTHIERONLINE PICKUP DISTRIBUTIONWAREHOUSEPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGOutlined below are the major elements of the site.  They include the box store reimagined as a distribution hub, a retail element on the front facade, housing occupying the former parking lot with green space directly adjacent to the housing, and a row of retail, restaurants and other programming along Main Street.Each of the three elements is explored in detail below.DESIGN INTERVENTIONFigure 26, SITE PLAN: An overall site plan showing the main working elements of the box store and supplemental programming32on of fonoffDGONLINEPICKUPGROCERYCAFESALONSHOESGYMYOGABARBERCLOTHIERONLINE PICKUP DISTRIBUTIONWAREHOUSEDGDGFigure 27, DISTRIBUTION HUB: The main fi xture in the transformation of the box store.The central element in the design is the transformation of the box store into a distribution hub for an ecommerce company such as Amazon or a current retailer that is looking to diversify their approach to consumers by capturing growing online sales.In the distribution hub is a 3-dimensional grid structure that stores consumer products.  This 3-dimensional matrix is served by trolleys that retrive the products from the top and transport them to pick stations on the periphery.  From there, orders can be assembled for pickup by customers on foot or at the drive through pickup kiosks.  These orders are also delivered to the community in small delivery vans that embark from here.DISTRIBUTION HUB33Figure 28, STORAGE MATRIX: Automated product storage and retrireval systems like the one pictured above maximize warehouse fl oor space.Figure 29, WALK-IN PICK-UP: Self service kiosks allow for walk-in pick up for online orders.Different levels of automation can be deployed in a system such as the one illustrated above.  From the trolleys to the pick stations and even the vehicles delivering orders to customers, automation can streamline the ordering process and effeciently deliver products to consumers.34NEWDAYCAREPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSING1800 N.PROPOSEDHOUSINGCSASHGYOBACLOONLINPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGIn order to get approval for converting the box store into a distribution hub, the retailer could offer a concession to the city to subsidize housing on the site.  Looking forward to the future where cars are not as prevalent, minimal parking is now needed for the occupants who use public transit and car sharing to travel.Juxtaposing housing to a cache of products would be benefi cial to both the consumer and the retailer because of their proximity to each another.  Offering convenience to the consumer and increased sales for the retailer.ON-SITE HOUSINGFigure 30, ON-SITE HOUSING: Diagramatic housing plans for street fronted housing with direct acess to greenspace.35EXISTINGRESTAURANTNEWRESTAURANTNEWRESTAURANTEXISTINGRESTAURANTNEW CLINIC/PHARMACYEXISTINGBANKNEWDAYCAREPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGPROPOSEDHOUSINGMAIN ST.This housing will be in the form of 3-story apartments with communal space on the fi rst fl oor.  This phase of the project is still in the very early stages of design but it has informed several of the design moves made on the site.Managing all the forces at play on the site such as: tractor-trailer delivery, vehicle traffi c, and pedestrian walking traffi c requires careful consideration of circulation paths.Figure 31, SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMMING: Additional programming sits adjacent to Main Street and is approachable from both sides.Oriented to main street are a series of programmable buildings. The combination of existing and new structures forms a semi-permable barrier to Main Street allowing for approach from both sides.The facade oriented to Main Street has a one-way street with directional parking for those arriving in vehicles while the other side allows for pedestrians to approach the individual buildings.SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMMING36NTSFigure 32, 9 BLOCKS COMPARISON: Side-by-side comparison before and after the intervention.37NTSFigure 33, BLOCK COMPARISON: Side-by-side comparison before and after the intervention.Figure 34, WEST-EAST SECTION: Site-length section running from west to east.38Figure 35, 100 EAST LOOKING SOUTHEAST: Street level perspective illustrates the character of the streetscape.Figure 36, 110 N. MAIN ST. LOOKING SOUTH: The wide Main Street is not as conducive to pedestrian traffi c as it is vehicular traffi c.Examining the streetscape reveals a more walkable urban environment with retail shops lining the front of the distribution center.  They also serve to mask its operations while alluding to its former life as a box store by retaining the existing formed-concrete facade.This pedestrian priority zone is open to cars however its constricted nature naturally throttles traffi c to slower speeds encouraging walkability across the street.Drawing from the existing sectional qualities of Main Street in downtown Logan, the intervention invokes a similar scale but pushes beyond its height to width ratio with the 3 story apartment buildings.STREET LEVEL39Figure 37, 100 EAST LOOKING NORTH:A higher height-to-width ratio enhances the sense of enclosure and naturally constricts traffi c fl ow.Figure 38, 100 EAST ELEVATION:A new facade offers an interpretation of a walkable street facade.Evoking a sense of the downtown Main Street, where heights of the buildings vary, the punched openings of the store fronts echo this variation in height as a call back to Main Street.  The constant height of the structure alludes to its former life as a box store.  It acheives a similar sense of surprise as one walks along the adjacent sidewalk.A NEW FACADE40BIBLIOGRAPHY“America’s Mailing Industry.” The Mailing Industry and the United States Postal Service. Accessed October 24, 2018., Paul. “On Distributed Communications Networks,” IEEE Transactions on Communications Systems Volume 12, Issue 1 (1964): 1-9.Baran, Paul, “Some Changes in Information Technology Affecting Marketing in the Year 2000.” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1968. Accessed October 5, 2018. Also available in print form.Berry, Brian Joe Lobley. Geography of Market Centers and Retail Location. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Accessed November 2, 2018., Julia. Big Box Reuse. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014.Chalabi, Margery Al. Just-in-time Real Estate: How Trends in Logistics Are Driving Industrial Development. Washington: ULI - Urban Land Institute, 2004. Deagon, Brian. “Amazon Vs. Walmart: Locking Horns In A Battle For Retail’s Future | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis - IBD.” Investor’s Business Daily. September 11, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018.“Demographics of Internet and Home Broadband Usage in the United States.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. February 05, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2018., Shelagh. “The Challenges of Last Mile Logistics & Delivery Technology Solutions.” Business Insider. May 10, 2018. Accessed November 16, 2018.“FOTW #1008, December 18, 2017: Median All-Electric Vehicle Range Grew from 73 Miles in Model Year 2011 to 114 Miles in Model Year 2017.” Department of Energy. Accessed November 16, 2018., Martin. “Zipline Launches the World’s Fastest Commercial Delivery Drone.” MIT Technology Review. April 05, 2018. Accessed October 23, 2018., Ron. “Sears Was the of the 20th Century.” May 15, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018. ashback-perspec-0514-jm-20170512-story.html.LeCavalier, Jesse. The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfi llment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.Lyster, Clare. “Learning from FedEx: Lessons for the City.” Journal of Landscape Architecture 7, no. 1 (2012): 54-67. doi:10.1080/18626033.2012.693781.41Lyster, Clare. Learning from Logistics: How Networks Change Our Cities. Basel: Birkhä user, 2016.Maffei, Nicolas P.. ““I Have Seen the Future”: Norman Bel Geddes’ “Futurama” as Immersive Design.” Design and Culture 4, no. 1 (2012): 79-82. doi:10.2752/175470812x13176523285264.May, Melanie. “The 6 Levels of Self-driving Car - and What They Mean for Motorists.” Accessed November 16, 2018., Ludwig Von, and Bettina Bien Greaves. Liberalism: The Classical Tradition. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Incorporated, 2014.Molenaar, C.. Shopping 3.0. London: Routledge, 2010.Molenaar, C.. The End of Shops. London: Routledge, 2013.“Number of Digital Shoppers in the U.S. 2021 | Statistic.” Statista. Accessed October 24, 2018., Hayley. “Walmart Is Building Giant Towers to Solve the Most Annoying Thing about Online Ordering.” Business Insider. July 05, 2017. Accessed December 07, 2018., Sarah.  Systems of Retail: The Bigger Box.Tan, Yvette. “Watch an Army of Robots Effi ciently Sorting Hundreds of Thousands of Packages.” Mash-able. September 22, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. “The Walmart Distribution Center Network in the United States.” Walmart Distribution Center Network USA | MWPVL International. Accessed October 24, 2018., Bernice L. Americas 5 & 10 Cent Stores the Kress Legacy. New York: J. Wiley, 1997.Turner, Marcia Layton. Kmart’s Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Ruined an American Icon. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003.“USA ECommerce Insights | 230.05 Million Online Shoppers By 2021.” EShopWorld. October 31, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018. Census Bureau; Census 1990; Population: 1790 to 1990, Population and Housing Unit Counts, Table 4.“To New Horizons (1940) GM Futurama.” USAutoIndustry. YouTube. September 30, 2009. Accessed October 20, 2018. APRESENTATION BOARDS43444546


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items