As early American life spread west, post offices were often the first structures built to establish new towns. Many of these historic buildings remain fixtures of community life, but as the United States Postal Service battles a $15.9 billion operational deficit, more and more outposts are being forced to shut their doors.
New York School of Interior Design graduate Erika Reuter, IIDA, LEED AP has an idea for the post mortem. Her thesis project, Marche: Adaptive Reuse of US Post Office Buildings, seeks to revitalize these spaces by converting them into “enclosed hypermarkets” that pull traffic away from big-box retailers and back into the center of town.
Part department store, part local marketplace, each Marche store is actually a house built within a gutted postal building, where shoppers are invited to explore inside and out.
“The idea is that everything outside the house is local and community related, while everything inside the house is a Marche product,” Reuter says.
Reuter’s concept pushes the boundaries of current retail models, designing a brand that is far more experience-based than any mass merchant in the states. Products are placed throughout Marche much like a shopper might find in their own home. Medicine is in the medicine cabinet, towels hang by the sink and kitchen cupboards are filled with dinnerware.
“The design challenge was to create a frame that could house these vignettes while providing space to stock products,” Reuters notes. “This is one element of the design that could be customized from one store to the other, but the modules inside are always the same.”
To learn more about Marche and other NYSID student projects, visit http://www.nysid.edu/student-life/student-work.