When a big-box store skips town for wider asphalt prairies, it leaves behind a great, empty space, waiting to be snatched up by a similarly large replacement. If, like me, you hope for a good use for these spaces, these libraries built in old big-box stores will blow your mind.
Across the U.S., buildings that once housed department stores, supermarkets, shopping malls, electronics retailers, and other huge business chains now sit vacant. Their parking lots crack with weeds, their exteriors fade, and pretty soon no one even wants to look at them anymore.
Because of their size and infrastructural advantages, however, abandoned big-box stores are unlikely to be demolished. Rather, these spaces will remain until another business comes along to claim them. Most of the time, those replacements are other big-box stores.
This was not the case in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, however, where a former Lunds grocery store became the new home of Hennepin County’s Eden Prairie Library in 2004. Over two years, architects turned the vacant eyesore into a stunning public building, with plenty of natural light, meeting spaces, and reading room.