In 1972, Best Products Company, a department store based in Richmond, Virginia, began a design collaboration with SITE, a multidisciplinary architecture and environmental arts organization founded by Wines. SITE reimagined the big-box store, manipulating setting, site, and facade through radical “invasions of nature,” challenging visitors to strip malls with unexpected architecture. Here, an ordinarily untamed element of nature transforms a banal architectural type through a tongue-in-cheek intervention, creating a new environment in the expanses of a suburban parking lot. With popular appeal, the buildings raised political awareness of consumer culture, creating intriguing oases in commercial landscapes, where a sense of place was frequently missing. The showrooms in this series were “a way of asking questions and changing public response to the significance of commercial buildings in the suburban environment,” the designer has said.
Gallery label from 9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design, September 12, 2012–March 25, 2013.