Haiqi Bai

Haiqi Bai

Providence, RI, US


Brand Canyon

This project is about how to transform a typical shopping mall into a shopping attraction.

From the initial research about the shopping habits of Millennials, I learned that they know what stores they want to visit before going to the mall. They want shopping malls to have shorter circulation systems, and clearer way-finding. They learn about what new places they may find at the mall through social media.

Analysis: The Existing Shopping Mall Model

Large openings in the floor/ceiling of the concourse create three story atriums. The public space of a mall is designed to allow you to see what stores are on other floors through the atriums. My observation is that what you mainly see are other people, fascias around the cut in the slab, and railings. The storefronts and branding are set back far enough from the edge that not much is revealed through the openings. So in the typical mall model, it is difficult to find the store you want to shop by just looking into the atrium.

Approach: Flipping the Storefront and Walkway

The idea is to push the storefront to the edge of the atrium, put the walkway behind the storefront, and add more bridges that connect both sides of the atrium. The storefront along the atrium will be a giant display window for the store behind it, and the space between the display window and the actual storefront (necessary for management purposes) will be the new walk way which also function as showrooms for the brands. In the new shopping mall model, the tenants will not only be in charge of the space within their store, they will also need to curate the showroom/walkway and the showcase storefront. By doing so, branding becomes the most important and visually outstanding element around the atrium. The three-story faceted plane will help shoppers find the store that they are looking for by  peering into the atrium.

Feasibility: Structure adjustment

To realize the new proposal, the existing walkway will be removed in order to enlarge the atrium space. The new storefront showcase and part of the showroom floor will be a integrated structure system with connection to the existing structure. The bridges will be truss structure connected to the existing structure.

By transforming the atrium area of the SoNo Collection into a Brand Canyon, the space will become the kind of spectacle that will attract millennial shoppers—and provide content for their Instagram feeds.

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Status: School Project