Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mall Redux: Some Elektrofolk for Your Soul

Mall Redux:
Conduit of Urban Activity and Infrastructure: Driving a Catalyst Through a Void.
Dan Yudchitz - University of Minnesota

Conduit in Historical Context

The Wisconsin River is affectionately called the hardest working river in America because of its history of powering mills.

Stevens Point was built on the river as a source of power. The milling district along the riverfront is the site of todays Pfiffner park.

The conduit of infrastructure and urban activity reintroduces the river as a working force in the city. It abstracts, connects and re-orientates the historical conduit of the river into the urban fabric to spur investment in existing and new infrastructure.

Today, the river is no longer the livelihood of the city. The mall is mostly abandoned and sits as a void in the city.

The latent energy of the river can still be a powerful force to fuel activity and reinvestment in downtown Stevens Point, both pragmatically and recreationally.

In its current configuration the Centerpoint mall is a void in the urban landscape of downtown Stevens Point. The proposed intervention is a conduit of urban activity and infrastructure (a co-existence of sustainable utilities and varied urban activities.) By driving the conduit through the void, it becomes an armature for development and activity. It brings the park into the downtown as an extension of the green circle trail (a major recreational trail network); as well as well as the pipeline of energy infrastructure that will power sustainable development in the downtown for years to come.

Urban Conduit

Circulation / utilities

Formal / informal activities

Pragmatic landscape / recreational landscape

The conduit begins at the river where geothermal loops are laid on the river bottom, generating sustainable energy for distribution along the conduit, while commingling with a pedestrian and infrastructural network over Water Street onto and around the JC Penny store, through a new outdoor public space and connecting to the University and city.

The form and functions of the conduit vary as it weaves through the landscape. Sometimes it is present at grade, sometimes elevated; stand alone and supported by existing structures. Sometimes it takes the form of a wall, or a roof. Various activities are facilitated along the conduit and animate the underutilized spaces. In the future, new structures such as parking, housing and offices will plug into the energy and circulation network. The energy network and rainwater distribution network that cuts throughout the site and branches out into the surrounding fabric as a visual and functional extension of the conduit. The urban conduit connects to existing buildings by providing sustainable energy to an aging historic building stock with obsolete energy systems. The paths of the conduit offer Connection to greater green circle infrastructure which circles the city and provides a link between the university, the downtown and the riverfront.

The experience of the conduit changes from season to season and day to night. It is an infrastructure that facilitates a combination of fixed programmed spaces and un-programmed spaces for informal activities and development. New connections and new branches of the conduit can be built over time to facilitate further development and redevelopment. PLUG AND PLAY mentality within and around an urban element will lead to a unique urban dynamic that relates distinctly to Stevens Point and its condition.

The conduit is open ended. It is not a master plan; rather it is a facilitator of growth. The site is able to densify over time, the conduit provides infrastructure for easy growth and practical utilization of obsolete existing infrastructure.


One element that will tap into the conduit right away is housing. Housing brings people into downtown, which will provide customers to activate the existing underutilized commercial fabric on the historic Main Street. By creating a connection to the river and facilitating a new mixture of urban activities a level of urbanism can form along the conduit, in a space that today is nearly devoid of activity.

Urban infrastructure can become a host for activity. Pragmatics and recreation do not need to be separated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this project is dope.