Our Project is the retrofit of the abandoned Mervyn’s Department store at the multiply renovated and altered Camelback Colonade Shopping Mall in the Biltmore neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona. The property began in the early 1960s as an open air mall. The Mall has two department stores with a shopping concourse of smaller local, regional and national stores that stretched between the department stores. The two department stores were the major anchors and draws for the mall. One store was a national catalogue retailer, where the other was a western boutique store. The connecting shopping concourse was seen as a commercial main street without cars. The cars were all parked beyond the exterior walls of the facility.
As tastes and markets changed, the mall adapted to keep retailers and shoppers. As HVAC equipment improved, and the draw of Christown Mall improved, the Sears-Rhodes Mall was enclosed and renamed the Colonade Mall. The enclosure was a response to the climate, the 1970s energy crisis and to make the renovate mall similar to the newer malls under construction. The mall went through a succession of regional tenants and added the Mervyn’s in the 80s. In the 80s, the kids that shopped at the mall were moving further out to raise their own kids. The neighborhood continued to change for the worse in the 90s as their parents moved out as well. Sears left for other malls and the developer reinvisioned the mall as a strip center.
The north side of the shopping concourse was removed, along with the roof. A Fry’s grocery store was added to the south side of the mall. Outbuildings were built closer to the street, allowing the tenants from the removed spaces a place to relocate to. The first floor of the Rhodes store and the entire Sears store was turned into retail spaces for big box stores. The upper level became open office spaces available for tenant leases. The Mervyn’s was seen as natural fit with these tenants and remained a part of the retail mix. A freeway was constructed along the western edge of the property, with ramps that emptied and entered the property directly. The removed parking was replaced with a garage, with a bridge connection to the new office spaces. The basement of the Sears store was converted to a storage facility, with spaces available for lease. However, neither of these efforts were able to stop the decline of the mall.
The existing Mervyn’s structure is a concrete masonry unit (CMU) bearing wall and steel column and roof decking wing addition to the original mall. The addition was built in the 1980s and forced the renovation of a secondary tenant space into a new retail tenant hall. The renovated mall space is the only part of the complex with skylights. The skylight illuminate the interior space and the vertical access to the basement Nordstrom’s discount store. The skylights provide light and some heat to the space and are of the inexpensive type. They should be replaced with more efficient skylights and be more widely incorporated throughout the mall. The skylights should incorporate reflectors and solar trackers to throw the daylighting further into the retail spaces. Retail objects sell and are better seen in the presence of natural light. The natural light will reduce electric light use during the day time. Artificial lights can be incorporated into the skylight to continue the efficiency of the fixture into the evening.
The building has few windows outside of the mall entrance and two doors to the parking on the south and the west side of the building. Each entrance is protected by frame structure canopies, shading the doors from direct sunlight. The lighting system uses cans at the entrance canopies and field of 2×4 fluorescent lighting the ceiling grid. Additional spots and can lighting were used to highlight merchandise and themes in various sections of the store. Depending on the needs of a future tenant, lighting should considered based on its effectiveness, efficiency, and quality for its intended task. Daylighting should be incorporated through the use of skylights, clerestories and additional windows. Openings may only be used for letting in light and not for direct visuals.
There are opportunities to cut courtyards into the building providing access to the outdoor and light wells deep within the structure. ALL cut in courtyards, need to be protected with shading devices to keep the courtyard cool and shade the windows. Whether plants or made structures, it doesn’t matter. If designed well, the courtyards can be used as a part of the natural ventilation system, pull hot air out of the building like a solar chimney.
Most likely, the lights have been retrofitted from T12s to T8s, but by and large the store looked like it has not been renovated since construction. Most of the plug load items had been removed from the facility, as had most of the furniture. However, a retrofit of the panels and the numbers of plugs would be needed for future tenants given the upgrades in electrical delivery systems and electrical devices we use today. As previously mention, lighting and plug loads need to be closely designed with needs of the future tenant and not based on an actuarial table as developed by a manufacturer or engineer interested in selling more product. Every project should be designed to meet the needs and desire of the user, not just to be proforma.
The current site lighting meets the current engineering requirements for security and safety. However, the quality of light reduces that security and safety, do to the temperature and the glare created by the “engineered” lighting checklist. Lights should be used that create a better color rendition, reducing the glare. In many cases, the lower and more efficient fixtures will reduce energy needs and with glare reduced and the better color rendition, fewer lights are needed and security will be increased because of increased activity at side walk cafes and events, made more pleasurable with better quality lighting, remaking a struggling neighborhood.
All signage and building lighting needs to considerately designed as well. Lighting the side of a building, or the use of unique sign elements do create a sense of interest and land mark, but excessive design or use creates an eyesore and an energy hog. Standard tenant signage will need to be adapted to meet the tight energy performance guidelines of the center. ALL site lighting elements need to keep the light on site and not brighten the sky. Interior signage must meet the energy requirements as well.
Given that the building has sat vacant for a few years, the duct work will need to be cleaned to ensure good airflow. All obstructions and damaged ductwork will need to be replaced for the same reason. The mechanical system should be checked and tested for operational efficiency.
Currently, the mechanical system consists of rooftop units spread across the roof. This is similar across the facility. Combining the systems into a central plant for the center development will create efficiencies with fewer units and more efficient units. Mechanically ventilated air can be piped to each of the facilities and tenants on the property, allowing for greater control and less maintenance calls, since there are fewer units. A centralized plant will also allow for future development on the site, as the area grows more urban. The drawback of such a system is a failure in summer, rendering the entire property useless.
Both passive and active systems should be used for managing the comfort of the facility and it’s immediate environs. Restaurants will be required to upgrade and use the most efficient equipment in order to lease at the mall. Similar requirements will be placed on other potential equipment heavy tenants.
Alternative energy production can happen on the roof of the mall and the Mervyn’s store. Solar PV systems would be the most applicable, and could be used as shade structures on the underperforming asphalt, provide chargers for electric cars and shade for the regular cars. The parking light polls can be retrofitted as low power wind generators. The AZ 51 box canyon should also be out fitted with wind generators, where energy can be generated by the traffic as it passes through. Heat recovery units and other wind generators should be outfitted at vents to generate energy from the escaping hot air. Though costs for some of these systems are expensive at this time, all renovations will be retrofitted to allow for future incorporation when budgets allow and technology improves the efficiencies and effectiveness.
Lastly, the ALL projects at the center will take advantage of the International Energy Code, require LEED Silver Certification and the new City of Phoenix Green Code. Annual Commissioning of the systems and bi-annual re-LEED certification will be required for tenants. The recertification will be at the next addition of LEED, not just the current level. This will help to push the act of sustainability from an initial marketing gimmick to a constant and continual process of business practice.
Collectively, each of these measures will make this mall among the greenest in the country. Continued practice will maintain that status. Such practices will make this an attractive facility where people will want to live, work, play, shop and eat, kicking off an amazing redevelopment of the area. And all of this will increase the social interactions of the people in Phoenix and the money made at the Mall.