900 N Michigan
It was the Owner’s design objective to (re) define the six floors of “common area” as a vertical Streetscape that transcends the anticipated “Urban Mall” experience. DMAC’s strategy references may historical “streets” that do have a sense of place looking for the “why”, rather than “what they look like”.
The idea of street is one of creating an urban space that engages but does not overwhelm. There should be a sense of promise, anticipation, discovery and (sometimes) destination. Every successful street has an identity that establishes a sense of place. Las Ramblas in Barcelona thrives from the cafes and restaurants that spill out onto the Streetscape, engaging the user in a seen and be seen experience. In streets that function well as social gathering spaces, there are “repose” spaces that exist as parks, plazas, and/or restaurant/cafes. At 900 Shops, the “street” exists both in plan and sections, and our solution to this type of space is an elevated room/bridge that could be interpreted as a café/public space that becomes a destination, leased space on the 4th floor, and a public gathering space on the 5th floor.
However, the current façade at 900 Shops is forbidding and closed, and does not engage the user from Michigan Avenue. As part of the solution we have attempted to “erase” or the mask to the street, and allow a further seen/be seen connection with the street.
Currently there a vertical abyss of circulation and the vertical movement is counter intuitive to the real experience. You should not have to look where to go next; it should be conducive to an effortless stroll. Our proposal adds escalators that allow for effortless/intuitive movement. Again, these new elements are added to the void of the building.
By creating a strategy of extruding select storefronts beyond the existing lease line to the “zero lot line” there is a stratification of mixing the old with the new. The space begins to have density and defines the street experience, and creates a desire to travel this vertical street. Way-finding signage should supplement the experience, not define it.
‘What does it feel like to move between spaces? How can these elements be used as signifiers that will enhance the experience? For this facility to transcend the typical high-end Mall experience, all architectural and interior components need to serve the idea of the street to ensure that the (re) designed space has a sense of place.