Liquidated Urbanism: Found Condition and Exploited Conflict
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This thesis hypothesizes that large-scale commercial sites throughout the world are well-positioned to be assets for cities and communities in the future. The condition of a large-scale commercial space standing where a river once ran - found while studying in Oslo, Norway - was the seed for this thesis. I extrapolated from this found condition to propose diagrams for how urban rivers develop over time. Upon returning to Seattle, I sought and found a like condition: the Black River in Renton, WA. The Black River disappeared in 1916 after it was cut off from its source, Lake Washington, due to the Montlake Cut. Thereafter, industry and commercial spaces began to pave over the riverbed. Today, there is a 170,000 sf Fred Meyer that stands where the Black River ran. I believe that the key to re-orienting such sites is consideration of the land the big box structure occupies. The history of the Fred Meyer is inextricably tangled with the Black River and the infrastructure that has come to cross the site. Over time, the site could be read as a series of transgressions against the river. This thesis deploys a similar process of transgression against the territory of the big box to alter the site's trajectory. Initial transgressions in the language of the landscape ultimately inform more than just the exterior surface. The architecture adopts but also withstands the landscape and its shifting hydrology, creating new program and inviting new users in the process.