The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art [SMoCA] announces a major design competition and public exhibition, “Flip a Strip.” This innovative project will foster creative, new visions for the renovation of the small-scale strip shopping plazas that line the streets of this metropolitan area?and virtually every suburban zone in the country. (Note: this is an idea-generating competition, not a design/build project.) “Flip a Strip” continues SMoCA’s commitment to creating a forum for public issues of both local and national importance and to generating ideas that better the quality of civic life.
In oversupply yet vastly underused, such strip plazas (built a generation ago) define the streetscapes of many towns. Many are dilapidated eyesores. Yet many are home to small restaurants, sole proprietorships and mom-and-pop businesses that can be wonderfully unique, entrepreneurial concerns, highly responsive to community needs. Strip malls breed strange and wonderful bedfellows (a yoga studio next to pet grooming next to a mattress store, for example), yet are plagued by interspersed vacant storefronts and the most generic of designs.
Ringed by parking and adjacent to thriving neighborhoods, these strip malls have great potential for adaptive re-use and architectural upgrades. They are an undervalued and neglected building stock. This competition will look at options for making strip malls economically viable, aesthetically interesting and communally meaningful.
PROCESS: The competition is a hybrid, both open and invitational, with a nominal registration fee of $60. Participants must be professional architects with at least five years professional experience. Participants can select one model site from among three sites that have been submitted by city planners from the municipalities of Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona.
Specifications and detailed information will be available through the competition/registration web site www.flipastrip.org, which launches January 5, 2008. (*Please note that website is now under construction and not yet “live.”)
THE EXHIBITION: The project is curated by Susan Krane, director, SMoCA. Approximately ten proposals will be selected for extended presentation in the exhibition, which will open at SMoCA in October 2008 and be on view through January 2009. Many of the other submissions will be exhibited as running projections in the exhibition.
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