By the very nature of their making, infrastructural systems of urban environments worldwide are slow to respond to socio-economic, socio-political, and environmental forces. The inability of the built environment to respond in real-time has become visibly urgent and point in specific contexts to abjectly fraudulent and outdated structures on the one hand and, on the other hand, open-up opportunities to re-imagine emerging typologies that are more adaptable and generating.
The thesis explores a microsite in the City of Chicago’s history which has mutated from a robust anchor in the economic and cultural life associated with Chicago and an exemplary case study of a building typology that seems to be at the end of its useful economic life. The 1914 Marshall Field and Company department store is currently the flagship store of the big-box retailer Macy’s since the company purchased the site in 1896. The building is underutilized, and redevelopment plans envision a mixed-use retail, commercial and residential future.
The thesis explores the triangulated relationship that exists between adaptive re-use of an existing building typology (structure), changing consumer behavior (economies), and post-pandemic emerging lifestyles (culture). Re-imagining the future of an iconic city block site such as Marshall Fields can become a prototypical intervention that will be equally informative for similar sites and help define the architectural framework of what may become an emerging typology in the adaption of existing built fabric.