Rethinking Outdoor Urban Retail

As we shift away from the pandemic, how can we as architects help our urban communities move forward through intentional and practical design? In our “Retail 2021: Five Things We’re Watching” blog post, we dove into the outdoor retail concept. BRR has been brainstorming the design concept which can draw more shoppers to urban retail areas and revitalize the surrounding communities.

As the warmer weather hits, peoples’ desire for social interactions will increase since many of these were put on pause during the winter months. There is an opportunity for brands to capitalize on this surge while keeping safety top-of-mind for the consumer. Here we will dive into our initial ideas in the first of a three-part series on outdoor urban retail.

The What: Design Solutions

BRR recently hosted an in-house design charette to explore different design solutions to solve this retail challenge. The solution to recovery does not need to be complex. The idea, which emerged from a modular pod, grappled with creating an inviting place for both shopping and social interactions, as well as safety precautions. The concept can be flexible to either extend the footprint of a retail store or operate as a standalone kiosk.

The Why: Benefits

The outdoor component has the potential for increased traffic and visibility. This idea creates an opportunity for municipalities to work with local businesses to re-establish the lost social and economic fabric from this past year. Our proposed solution is to integrate these pods into the retail sector, and engage other sectors to participate as well, creating an immersive experience for the customer.

The Where: Location

These pods can be flexible and adaptable to various locations across the country. Some of the proposed locations include parks, vacant lots, under bridges, or in a closed down street. By grouping these temporary structures together, it creates an experience for the customer and draws new patrons to visit. We can work with retailers to create “Instagram-able” moments which customers will be eager to capture.

BRR will dive further into part two of the Outdoor Urban Retail series in the next blog post coming later this month. Drawing inspiration from the in-house design charette, the designs will explore an open-air concept with customizable specifications to be used in a variety of urban locations. Part two will also showcase some original renderings to illustrate the design possibilities for these structures.

About the author

Jessica Kim, RA, LEED AP BD+C, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. She joined BRR in 2019 and brought 10 years of retail design experience to our team. Jessica has worked with a variety of luxury retail brands in New York City and across the country. She currently leads a team working with one of our confidential retail clients as they introduce a new store concept nationwide. Jessica has experience working on both the client side and the design consultant side of the industry which gives her a depth of knowledge and allows her to think about each project from a holistic approach. She continually challenges our clients to elevate the everyday design experience and how that affects the brand and the consumer. Email her.