Designers Forum: Architecture Design Collaborative takes inspiration from North Carolina beaches for the design of Independence Mall
By Craig Chinn
Independence Mall is the dominant shopping center in the Wilmington, North Carolina area. With over one million square feet of retail space, over 77 specialty stores and anchored in three department stores, this mall is a premier shopping experience. The center has undergone a major redevelopment, including the conversion of a segment of the mall into an outdoor shopping and dining destination.
Brookfield Properties Retail, owner and operator of the mall, and Architecture Design Collaborative (ADC), based in Laguna Hills, Calif., Have worked together for years to reinvigorate and refresh mall properties across the United States. The strategies have varied, ranging from cosmetic refreshes to larger renovations, additions to amenities and complete refurbishments. ADC takes pride in approaching each design to celebrate the local context and culture of the community where the respective mall is located. In the case of the Independence Mall, ADC took inspiration from the mall’s proximity to the ocean by implementing elements of the seaside landscape into the design.
REDISCOVER A SHOPPING CENTER
The design of the center court was aimed at modernizing the space and engaging buyers, allowing customers to select seating options for various experiences. Elements of the waterfront, such as water, piers and sand, were used for the design concept.
The triangular tile pieces provided by the Mondani Collection were cut from 12 “x12” tiles diagonally and arranged to create a simple yet captivating geometric pattern. Various colors of neutral and blue tones were used in the pattern with alternating polished and matte finishes. To help facilitate a smooth installation, a sequence has been formed for the contractor to follow. The floor layout was first divided into a grid with different segments. In an effort to make the repetitive nature of the pattern unpretentious, each segment has been named and duplicated along its diagonal. Along the edges of the segment, the tiles alternate in color and reflectivity. With this streamlined process, the contractor was able to follow an arrangement for a successful installation while hiding the repeated pattern from the passerby.
A channel of 8 ” x 48 ” wood-look plank tile from Mirage’s Koru Porcelain Collection, in the color Peach, surrounds this sea of blue. These tiles take subtle design notes of an ocean pier and serve as a transition point from water to land. The surrounding field tile has been kept neutral and simple using the Tecnolito porcelain tile collection from Caesar Ceramic in Olympia to blend into the existing hallway tile, which hints at sand along the coast.
The result is that, as guests pass by, the tile sparkles with every step, mimicking the lapping of water in the sun. A dynamic experience is created throughout the center court with this unique effect.
In all of the halls of the mall, rugs have been created using carpet tiles from Patcraft’s Subtle Impressions and Crafted Surface collections, which perpetuate the seaside concept with hues of blue. Reinventing the center court and halls with a new variety of seating options also creates separate areas for guests to congregate in a calming environment.
In the food court, an existing sea of chairs among a monotonous tile pattern has been redesigned to create a more welcoming and welcoming vibe for the space.
During design, the food court was divided into four quadrants and the designers created an intimate dining experience in each region. The new benches, surrounded by a mix of two, four and high top tables, offer a variety of seating options for guest enjoyment. Across all four quadrants, Vestige’s 40 “x40” large format porcelain tiles incorporate an artistic approach to the ocean theme with blue accents and
look like a rug with intricate patterns. These Spanish porcelain tiles introduce a new screen printing technology to emulate intricate patterns on a classic tile surface. Using these large, sleek tiles softened the floor and added a sense of hospitality to the space, while still maintaining commercial grade durability and functionality in a restaurant setting.
Surrounded by 6 “x24” tiles from Caesar’s Tecnolito collection in Bay, which act as tassels around the rug and a transition to the rest of the floor design. At the crossroads between the four quadrants, 24 “x24” slabs from Caesar’s Tecnolito in Olympia were used to complete the center court layout and create a subtle transition between the new slab and the existing hall slab.
The overall tile layout also makes the property easier to maintain by providing a guideline for aligning and resetting furniture, useful for cleaning or cleaning up the space after events.
Overall, the design features warm tones and dark accents that complement the other upgrades in the rest of the property. Plus, new furniture introduces pops of color and decorative screens add privacy to the dining areas and differentiate the food court from the rest of the mall.
COLLABORATION IS THE KEY
Porcelain work requires several levels of design thinking and the contribution of various stakeholders. ADC mastered this process by working with everyone involved at the start of the project. This ensures that the tile selection looks great, holds up well to the use of space, required longevity, and works well for the property and day-to-day activities.
The theme or direction of the overall design should match the property in terms of context and customer demographics to ensure that a harmonious design is achieved. Working as a team with the owner, management, general contractor, tile vendors / suppliers and city officials is the key to a successful project.
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