Date of Award

2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Farhad Atash

Abstract

The implementation of the "prototype", large or small, has become the de facto strategy for national and regional corporations to compete in today's retail market. The prototype, in terms of retail development, refers to the creation of a single building and site design that is to be applied, with the smallest amount of variation possible, each time a new store is constructed. Almost universally, the building is square and utilitarian, the entrance faces the street, large parking areas are located between the entrance and street and perhaps to the side, and a loading area is placed in the back. The size of the prototype may vary according to different segments of the retailing industry, but all look and function essentially the same.

The intent of this paper is to examine: 1.) the changes that occurred in the American retail industry during the decades following World War II that led to the implementation of retail prototypes, 2.) the design of prototypes and how they fulfill retailers goals, 3.) why prototypes are vilified by residents of communities, 4.) alternate visions of retail development, and 5.) strategies that could help bring the goals of communities and retailers closer together. The purpose for writing this paper is simply this: retailing is, and will continue to be, a significant proportion of the American built environment that promises to either tear communities apart or bring them closer together. The current controversy surrounding prototypes cannot be resolved without a fundamental understanding and appreciation of the issues involved.

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