In the Meantime, Life with Landbanking

A “dead” mall that turned out to be very much alive


LA Forum for Urban Design, 

Project Team:

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore, Christine Williams

In the Meantime, Life with Landbanking is Interboro’s winning entry to the LA Forum for Architecture’s “Dead Malls” Competition, which asked contestants to envision a future for a dead shopping mall of their choosing. Interboro’s project, a reimagining of the Dutchess County Mall in Fishkill, NY was inspired by a conversation it had with the mall’s developer, who made it clear that he was landbanking the property. Interboro asked “what can be done in the meantime?”  Rejecting the idea of a traditional masterplan, our submission is a collection of small, cheap, feasible moves that come in over time, and lead to many possible futures.

Spending a lot of time in the abandoned parking lot of the Duchess Mall, we found traces of many different uses and activities - some easily identifiable, others more mysterious. After the clearly defined commercial program of the Duchess Mall had disappeared, people had pragmatically begun to reuse the parts of the vacant structure they thought they could make use of. The mall had become a kind of Rorschach test of its surrounding region.

We mapped our observations, and diagrammed the different rhythms of the mall.

The axonometric depicts the project’s physical interventions (notated in yellow) during the land banking phase. The drawing also speculates how both on-site and off-site constituents might respond to these proposals (shown in the “quote” bubbles). Also included are future constituents (encircled by text), who are identified by “who” they are and “what” they are doing. Finally, the interventions themselves dream about their future lives. The drawing thus synthesizes multiple times and constituent interests to represent how the proposals have the potential to change the site’s DNA.