Mervyn’s IEQ study.

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 with two department stores and a connecting shopping concourse of smaller local, regional and national. The two department stores were the major anchors and the draws for the mall, while the connecting shopping concourse was seen as a commercial main street without cars. Cars were 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 patrons to newer nearby enclosed malls, Sears-Rhodes Mall was enclosed and renamed the Colonade Mall. The mall went through a succession of regional tenants and added the Mervyn’s in the 80s. The neighborhood continued to change for the worse in the 90s as thegeneration that had grown up around the mall moved out to newer developments, 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, and outbuildings were built closer to the street, allowing the tenants from the removed spaces a place to relocate. 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. However, few 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 building has few windows apart from the mall entrance and two entrances to the parking lot on the south and the west side of the building. Day lighting should be incorporated through the use of skylights, clerestories and additional windows. Bringing in additional day light into the building will enliven and open up the space. Multiple studies have shown that shopper buy more in a daylit shopping experience, colors can be better judged, and the experience seems less drudging. The use of daylighting helps patrons to have a sense of time and of season. Openings may only be used for letting in light and not for direct visuals. Daylighting should be more widely incorporated throughout the mall. The skylights should incorporate reflectors and solar trackers in order to throw the daylighting further into the retail spaces.
Where there are opportunities to cut courtyards into the building, vents should be installed to encourage natural ventilation. Similar baffles should be incorporated along the exterior walls, especially where windows are cut into the walls. Courtyards provide access to the outdoors and lighting deep within the structure. ALL cut in courtyards, need to be protected with shading devices to keep the courtyard cool and shade the windows. Plants should be placed within the courtyard for shading, visual affect and for their scents. 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, or provide natural aromas that are more pleasant than chemical disinfectants, performs, or arisols.

Given that the building has sat vacant for a few years, much of the existing installed materials are of unknown condition, or biological growth. Most of the finish materials must be replaced given the conditions. The removed material should be recycled, and new material should be installed. The new material should meet the Center’s standard of meeting a high LEED Silver Certification, be of Low VOCs, and be allowed to off gas at another facility prior to installation. All efforts to reduce additional contamination of the new materials by weather, construction methods, or other means, will be implemented, so that no additional VOCs can be added to the new finishes. The renovated facility will be mechanically flushed prior to opening, with retail merchandise installed.

The duct work will need to be inspected, repaired and/or replaced, and cleaned to ensure good airflow and the removal of any contamination during the building’s vacancy. Replaced ductwork will be installed and air sealed with non-volatile chemicals. ALL ductwork will be protected during construction from the collection of construction airborne waste material. The mechanical system will be flushed prior to opening day, just to remove any incidental residue build up.

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. Each unit should be taken apart and inspected for any growth or mechanical leakage, given that they have sat idle for a period of time. If any leaks are found, the unit MUST be replaced to prevent any future issues with indoor air quality. If the units do not meet current national code or ASHRAE standards (regardless of current Arizona code adoptions) or recommendations for fresh air intake, the units MUST be replaced to ensure a proper mix of air. The location of the new and existing units should be reviewed to ensure that they meet code for distances from plumbing vents, restaurant hoods and loading dock exhausts, whether for the Mervyn’s or adjacent mall structures. ALL fresh air intakes need to be placed in a manner where they will not draw air from another area of exhaust. This global rethink of the mechanical system may allow for an improved design, combining units and better control systems to improve indoor comfort.

Water and plant features should be introduced into the facility. Natural features add to one’s pleasurable experience to a space. However, people can spot plastic plants and fake efforts a mile away. Each of these features need to be constructed mostly of natural materials. The circulating water will provide aural, aromatic and visual delight to shoppers. However, the installation must be cleaned and serviced on a regular basis. Similarly, plants have to be cared for and they will help to provide cleaner and fresher air for patrons. The plants should be picked to provide similar benefits as the water features. Each should be placed throughout the facility, creating focal, gathering points for orienting patrons.

All tenants will be required to make their owner provided, owner furnished materials to these strict Indoor Air Quality standards of the construction. Similarly, they are required to maintain and clean their lease spaces with environmentally friendly cleaners and materials. All facilities must be cleaned daily and inspected monthly to ensure proper function and any early worries for biological growth. Similar requirements will be made of restaurants for cleaning their utensils, plates and cooking equipment. The same restrictions will be placed on any feature hotels, including controls on the use of chlorine in their pools. The car washing and auto repair facilities currently on site will have similar requirements.

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.


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