Façade Improvements and Artwork Invigorate a 1970s Shopping Center

In the heart of Dallas, architect LRK was challenged to create a retail destination from an existing 1970s shopping center called The Hill. The outdated 236,050-square-foot complex featured brown brick, detailed with radius corners and nautical windows. The tenants lacked good visibility and the only people who frequented the shopping center were those who had a specific reason or tenant to visit. The team planned work around the existing tenants to minimize disruption, and the developer hoped to selectively add tenants as the renovation progressed, based on a tenant’s contribution to the development’s overall experiential quality.

LRK’s ability to meet and exceed the developer’s goals of making this shopping center a destination garnered the firm an Honorable Mention in retrofit’s second-annual Metamorphosis Awards in the Exterior category.

Before Photos: LRK and After Photos: CHARLES DAVIS SMITH

CONNECTIONS

LRK oriented the design to avoid “dead zones”, or spaces that were not interlinked to the rest of the development, and used the massing and skin to provide a glimpse into the alleys that led to the courtyard. Although alleys and nodes can be especially tough for retail sites, LRK’s team was vigilant about incorporating all the individual areas into a single experiential narrative for patrons. In the past, the courtyard was sunken, muddy and lifeless. By using changing grades, the designers ensured continuity across the site, creating a natural but accessible experience for everyone entering and exiting the courtyard.

DESIGN INTRIGUE

In keeping with the goal of creating a destination, LRK focused on façade material selection, artwork, and rainscreens, creating interest and intrigue around every corner.

Seeking to avoid a typical strip-mall experience where every storefront feels the same, the goal was to make each storefront look like an independent design with each retailer having its own distinctive place.

To enhance the development’s visual identity, the team utilized natural materials with a complementary palette of earth-tone colors. The team varied canopies, so each building was unique, cultivating intrinsic curiosity to explore around each corner and encouraging patrons to continue moving throughout the site.

Outdoor dining spaces and patio seating also add to the activity within the development, giving the space a new vibe. The dynamic interior courtyard, complete with 30-year-old oak trees, is now an exclusive destination feature, serving as a refuge and escape from the routine hustle of north Dallas.

RECREATE VERSUS REPLACE

Layers of interest create an eclectic effect with different moods. In revitalizing an existing “found” retail center, the team utilized other found objects—old shipping containers, re-clad skin and old barn tin from West Texas—to create optics totally new and unique. In some cases, these layers also had practical value. Rainscreens, for example, were used in layers to help maintain the building, waterproof it and enhance façades.

Another visual element that differentiates this project from its local counterparts is the integration of artwork. The team worked with many local artists whose work is displayed throughout the space. In some areas where waterproofing was exposed, several artists were commissioned to paint murals. These not only created aesthetic appeal, but also helped to diversify building materials to optimize cost and value. For example, metal panels were creatively combined with fire-treated cedar and weathered steel panels in a way that created interest without looking inexpensive.

A STANDOUT

This project’s conscientious design approach resulted in a destination development whose unique features and fresh optics stand out in the crowded, evolving Dallas retail market. The design team and developers saw the site’s potential and seized the opportunity to create an exceptional experience while saving the cost of new construction. The architecture draws from the early roots of Texas commercial ventures: metal buildings, exposed steel, low-sloping roofs and sunprotected storefronts. The eclectic design provides an alternative to the otherwise sterile north Dallas shopping choices.

Retrofit Team

DEVELOPER: Cypress Equities

OWNER: CAPREF Walnut Hill

ARCHITECTS: LRK and Farrell Architects

METAMORPHOSIS AWARD WINNER: LRK

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Core Construction

SECONDARY CONTRACTOR: Schaffer Construction

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT AND CIVIL ENGINEER: Pacheco Koch

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Hunt & Joiner Inc.

MEP ENGINEER: Jordan & Skala Engineers

Materials

BRICK: Endicott

STEEL PLATE WITH CUSTOM LASER-CUT PATTERNS: Maximum Industries Inc.

WOOD SIDING: Accoya

PERFORATED CORRUGATED METAL ROOF PANEL: CENTRIA

METAL WALL PANELS: MetalTech-USA; AEP Span; and CENTRIA

FIBER-CEMENT SIDING PANEL: Viroc

SHIPPING CONTAINER: Big Texas Containers, (903) 200-6017

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