We gravitated towards interrogating the intrusive inundation of material transactions that facilitate and perpetuate the overstimulation of the urban experience, which was informed by the programmatic and infrastructural absence of a significant commercial node (in particular grocery stores) that anchors the population of Downtown Syracuse, NY. We looked towards the vending machine as a metaphor that signaled such sitelessness and omnipresence which puts materialism and our blasé consumerism on display as a mass spectacle.
Our proposal takes the conventional linear supply chain and the enfilade of spaces (unloading, back of house, floor space, storefront window display), and collapses their relationship and processes into a series of planar moments. So much like the vending machine, the window display, the inventory behind, the transaction interface, and the projected social bubble all exist within a thin slither of space. Each programmatic element takes on multiple agendas; doing your groceries is also a social opportunity or a recreational moment.
The building as proposed is comprised of three cores, with the main bulk being a grocery store and restaurant stalls. Each core respectively houses either fresh, frozen, and fundamental goods, which cover things like canned foods or condiments. It is capped by a greenhouse on the roof and the entire massing is wrapped with an exterior circulation that acts as a continuation of the street. Mechanics and fulfillment are located on one end of the basement and the street front has an articulated topography with a restaurant beneath it.
Occupants engage the cores (transactions) through kiosks where they can browse, select, and add to their carts that track them, the same way one would shop online. When a specific product is summoned, pallets in the core would bring the storage unit from the display window, meeting the occupant at the kiosk, which could also extend out to form countertops or kitchen units for local eateries to set up pop-up spaces.
These cores are functional, tectonic, and structural and the entire project branches out from them. The cores are columns tied in bands that allow for the interlocking floor truss to run through and cantilever outwards. The exterior façade is hung from the roof truss and drapes down both sides of the building. The circulation of people and goods also take place in and around these cores, with a series of escalators bringing people up and down the interior space.
In addressing the passive systems, we looked at the daylighting and how the built massing creates massive pools of shadows on the ground. There is also a large gap in solar gain throughout different seasons as well as relatively significant prevailing breezes. We are therefore proposing a double skin enclosure. A dynamic façade and summer balconies let air pass through and up the outer skin. The flaps on the façade can be locked in place via electromagnets during winter and an ETFE screen can be drawn out on the roof to shed rain and snow. There are also independent hydraulic pistons that allow for specific flaps or windows to be held open to meet specific interior microclimates.
The exterior dynamic façades are polycarbonate flaps held in 11×11 frames that have thin rods running through and stoppers in front. As the prevailing breeze moves along the façade, it would cause the entire skin to flicker, thereby turning the vending machine and the people inside it into moving art of different transparencies.
The polycarbonate panels also have different opacities depending on the amount of annual glare the façade receives. The result is basically a gradation where pockets of the interior are more visible to let more daylight in.
At the urban scale, the project in site would read as a mass spectacle, a billboard, a pinball vending machine that signifies the potential dynamism of downtown Syracuse, performing as an essential civic node for locals, and an attraction point that can in turn activate and reinvigorate the city.