(Almost) daily architectural musings and imagery from New York City
What a great film! I really love the BEST stores, what a great testament of 70s pop architecture, in total contrast with the blandness of the prototypical suburbia. What is truly amazing in this movie is the comments of the users and passers-by, whether good or bad comments. Surprisingly, most of them see the true intentions of SITE, which proves that everyone can see and understand architecture... That is truly a victory!
Really great film. Thanks for posting it. As of 2003 all but two of the BEST stores were demolished. They are still practicing, however, they are located at 25 Maiden Lane, NYC. http://www.siteenvirodesign.com
In a lecture a year or two ago, James Wines indicated that only one store was still standing (one where the facade is detached and a grove of trees fills the space between the front and the interior) and it is now being used as a church, unfortunately minus the green aspect that made it unique. If there's another one, do you know which one that is?
The Best Products showrooms were Post-Modern icons, giving the suburbs their own landmark architecture. An admirer asks, "Where are they now?"By James McCownApril 2003 Before big-box retailing even had a name, James Wines was taking the box and turning it on its side, extruding its facade, even making it appear to crumble. The New York-based architectural designer and sculptor was cofounder with Alison Sky of SITE, a design firm that changed forever how we think about suburban retail with its series of Best Products showrooms, built between 1972 and 1984. The buildings drew interest far and wide: to locals they were curiosities, visual points of reference in suburban wastelands seemingly desperate for any sense of place; to the artistic elite they were Dadaist works worthy of Duchamp, winking comments on everything from consumer culture to the increasingly fractured nature of American life.But these buildings-as-sculpture in Wal-Mart country were not to last. Best Products Company, an appliance and housewares catalog retailer, folded in the mid-1990s. Of the nine showrooms SITE built, all but two have either been torn down or stripped of their architectural witticisms. What's left of the Peeling Project in Richmond, Virginia, its front elevation now just a blank wall, houses a weekend flea market and pawn shop heralding "Top $ for Your Gold." The Tilt Building in Towson, Maryland, an engineering marvel whose 450-ton masonry-block facade seemed to balance precariously on one corner, was razed completely and the site redeveloped. Buildings in Miami and Milwaukee were retrofitted into a Sears and a Wal-Mart, respectively. The Notch Project in Sacramento and Water Showroom in Hialeah, Florida, also lost their absurdist touches to become traditional big-box venues.One of the exceptions is the Indeterminate Facade showroom in Houston, which features a crumbling white-brick wall. Evoking images of an apocalyptic remnant of war, it still stands in its original configuration but is in want of a tenant. "The building's preservation has depended on its function as a big-box store," says Stephen Fox, adjunct lecturer in architecture at Rice University. "The facade has not figured in at all. It will probably need maintenance soon, and they may just tear it down. There's not much sentiment here for preserving suburban landmarks."http://www.metropolismag.com/html/content_0403/bst/index.html
The "indeterminate facade" has been torn down now, leaving only the big box. Here's a google maps streetview of what's left. http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=13918+Round+Oak+Ct,+Houston,+Harris,+Texas+77059&ll=29.618833,-95.228741&spn=0.006977,0.009645&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=29.61966,-95.22962&panoid=WOavuvi1BW_XCWPPUngskg&cbp=12,281.33,,0,5I used to shop at this Best Products in the early 80s. The neighborhood has deteriorated quite a bit since then.
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