The Big Box Bill of Rights
Author(s)Caine, Ian (Ian Scott Roberts)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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On May 9, 1950, a fledgling businessman named Sam Walton bought a main street storefront in Bentonville, Arkansas and opened a discount variety store called Walton's 5 & 10. Business was good. By 2011, Walton's 5 & 10 had spawned 10,130 additional locations in 27 countries and converted a sleepy Ozark mountain town into home of the world's largest retailer: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The ascendance of Walmart and similar big box developers during the latter part of the twentieth century instigated a profound transformation of Bentonville's city fabric, one that paralleled a larger makeover of the suburban landscape in North America. This thesis asserts that the environment associated with one of these developments-the Walmart Home Office and Supercenter is under-performing the citizens of Bentonville in eight critical ways. The project seeks to redress the physical crisis associated with this development by proposing eight corresponding amendments to the Bentonville City Charter. These amendments are collectively known as The Big Box Bill of Rights and cover eight topics: Money, Commerce, Passage, Program, Legibility, Parking, Water, and Speech The proposed mechanism for implementing the Amendments is a Bentonville Public Works Project, to be designed and administered at the municipal level. The project contends that the massive tax subsidies provided to Walmart by local municipalities--subsidies intended to cover site infrastructure costs--constitute the license for a contemporary public works project. The proposal therefore re-imagines the site of the Walmart Home Office, and specifically the legal right-of-way along Sam Walton Boulevard, as an expanded physical and legal armature for civic and commercial life in Bentonville. Ultimately, a re-designed right-of-way will leverage contemporary growth patterns, bringing the design of civil infrastructure back into the public fold while streamlining the redundancy that results from uncoordinated private development. By critically embracing the logic of big box retail, a re-imagined Walton Boulevard can emerge as a new and robust public node in the city, reclaiming Walmart street and Walmart town for the people of Bentonville.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2012.Page 129 blank. Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 120-123).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology