For this project in the heart of the University of Alabama campus, the University sought to capitalize on an under-utilized property located on Bryant Drive and to strengthen the streetscape and pedestrian experience of the neighborhood adjacent to Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2012, the University hired the us to transform the corner into a new retail center to house a satellite location of the campus bookstore, the “Supe Store.” The University desired to provide a second retail tenant space which evolved to become a Starbucks coffee shop.
The design for the retail center is driven by its serendipitous location along Bryant Drive, adjacent to Tutwiler Hall and three blocks from the stadium. Consequently, pedestrian and vehicular traffic along the street is robust. In response, the design seeks to enliven the streetscape, draw people off the street and into the retail spaces, and mitigate safety concerns regarding student and game day foot traffic and vehicular traffic. In order to do this, “pockets” are designed into the low wall to accommodate outdoor seating for small groups to gather for study or play and the façade is allowed to physically open up the interior to the exterior to bolster a sense of community. In addition, the low wall along the street, landscaping, and the elevated sidewalk help to separate and protect pedestrians from vehicular traffic.
Inside, each tenant space features a grand stair and large windows to allow natural light in. At the bookstore, a raised ceiling over the stair forms a clerestory, further highlighting the central stair. In addition, both tenant spaces make use of the space under the stairs: the bookstore for merchandise display and the coffee shop for “stadium” seating