Creating an authentic in-line shopping centerLessons from Golden Gate Plaza
Creating an authentic in-line shopping center
Golden Gate Plaza in Mayfield Heights, Ohio is an example of a strip mall renovation that expresses hybridization. Conveniently, it is an in-line shopping center that has gone through all three transformations. Beginning in the 1960s as a regional in-line shopping center, it was a designed as a U-shaped plaza with parking in the middle. In the 1990s, it was remodeled with square medallions, chunky canopies and loud colors. Golden Gate Plaza was recently remodeled, and it expresses today’s values for a more authentic architectural expression. It follows a few simple rules to ensure a contemporary look that will impact its community and be relevant for another generation.
Instead authenticity of volume, mass, and planes are sufficient. At Golden Gate Plaza, we created a lively theme throughout the center by breaking the sign band at natural places. We treated it as two overlapping planes that ran throughout the center. These planes were disrupted by periodic entrance features that were considered simple, primitive masses. The interplay between planes and masses was able to create enough dynamism in the visual field that we didn’t need to rely on historical tropes.
Finally, today is great material moment. There are all kinds of new categories of materials available to the designer. While PoMo designers shaped historical forms in EIFS, today’s designers can draw from a wealth of affordable exterior materials. At Golden Gate Plaza, we paired Nichiha fiber cement panels with Environmental Stoneworks simulated stone to bring a rich and sophisticated look to the center. For budget reasons, much of the center is in EIFS. but it doesn’t have the same negative connotations when it’s used in an honest manner and is contrasted with richer looking materials. We have learned to appreciate the smooth texture of EIFS as a contrast to the board look of fiber cement or the rough texture of stone veneer.
Materials continue to abound today, and a contemporary re-design for an in-line shopping center should take advantage of what is available. For us, categories of materials that we explore include Atas and Alpolic metal panels, simulated stone veneer by Coronado Stone with textures ranging from ledgestone to wood grain, Nichiha and American Fiber Cement fiber cement boards, and phenolic resin panels such as Prodema and Trespa. The strategy behind this approach is to invest the budget into simple but powerful forms and clad them with interesting materials in fresh combinations.