Monday, May 13, 2013

!9th Century Shopping Mall to House Micro-Apartment Living

Floorplan of the tiny micro-units
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Architizer

Link to article:
The New Mini-Mall: Tiny Apartments To Open In Nation’s Oldest Shopping Center
Out of date and vacant malls have been used for many things in the US, from government agencies to medical office plazas.  But a historically significant 1828 enclosed shopping center in Providence is trying a whole new approach, by converting upper levels into tiny, affordable micro-living apartments.  The ground floor concourse level will house small restaurants, bars, and stores to sustain the residents.

Excerpt: "Aside from the economic whupping of 2008–2009, a major casualty of the recession was space itself. Homeowners and businesses bled square footage, leaving behind a landscape of empty McMansions, vacated big-box stores, and now-famously abandoned shopping malls. Since then, many municipalities have been grappling with how to repopulate these spaces with more nimble, post-boom uses. Existing mall mashups pretty much stick to the public realm—like Cleveland’s indoor gardens and Vanderbilt’s health clinics—but this spring a shuttered shopping center in downtown Providence will be reborn in micro form, with two stories of micro-apartments above ground-floor micro-retail. Micro-micro more!

As nightmarish as a total mall existence sounds, this project offers Providence residents the best shot at living in a landmarked piece of architectural history they’ll probably ever have. Built in 1828 by architects James Bucklin and Russell Warren, the Greek Revival structure was the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1976, but by 2010 had made the Providence Preservation Society’s 10 Most Endangered Buildings list. Working with J. Michael Abbott of Northeast Collaborative Architects, developer Evan Granoff sliced up the Arcade’s two upper floors into 48 apartments. Thirty-eight are micro—between 225 and 450 square feet—a scale that brings the new spaces closer in line with the mall’s 1828 design, according to Granoff. 'It’s allowing us basically to put the building back to what it was when it was built,' he told Providence Business News. 'They were individual rooms that were tiny. We’re actually creating more of the streetscape [feel] that was inside.' "

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