An interior designer’s job is to transform a space’s aesthetic qualities, while still respecting the form and limitations of the space itself. So what happens when the space in need of transformation is a giant abandoned superstore? In McAllen, Texas, a team of architects and interior designers from Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. transformed an abandoned Walmart into a public library, replacing the food and toys on its shelves with books and audiotapes. This Walmart-turned-library, taking up an area larger than two and a half football fields, has broken the record of the largest single-story library in the United States.
More importantly than it’s record-breaking glory is the fact that this colossal, formerly empty building is no longer a waste of space; it is a place to cultivate knowledge and education. The library’s size, accessibility, and aesthetically pleasing design attract a significant number of people to its premises on a daily basis, propagating a community-wide appreciation of books and literature. Who knew that you could learn so much at Walmart?
This particular library isn’t the only success story of corporate failure being converted into something publicly beneficial. Though there are still thousands of abandoned box stores in the United States, many communities are taking a similar action to McAllen, Texas, and turning these stores into civic buildings, such as churches, courthouses, museums, and recreation centers. Readers: how would you transform an abandoned Walmart into a different kind of useful building?