Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Mary Beth Janssen

Second Advisor

Stephanie Sokolowski


Many years ago, when the shopping industry was booming, shopping malls were being built one after another—more than were needed to support the population. They served as a hub for all kinds of people. But with time, the focus of the retail industry shifted to the convenience of online buying instead of in-store, which contributed in the lack of demand for retail stores, running them into the ground, and leaving the malls empty. Approximately 1/3 of the 1,200 malls in America are dead or dying. With malls emptying out, the future of these buildings comes into question. Either they need to be re-tenanted with stores more appealing to the consumer, or they need to be converted into something that is more likely to succeed and boost the economy. Throughout the years, different solutions have been implemented. The cheapest option is to retenant the spaces and change out stores for more promising options. Other solutions have been transforming the space into community colleges, community centers, multi-family apartment complexes, and greenhouses. Anchor stores can be re-purposed to be fitness centers, churches, and medical centers. Some have been successful, some not.

Originally, a mall’s intent rested on providing a location to sell artifacts and goods externally sourced —often from outside of the country. With this method of retail, there is a disconnect between the origins of the product and the purchase. A proposed solution is to renovate the mall into a co-working space for artists, with each trade occupying a different section of the mall. In the new concept for the mall, the main goal is to create a location that is inspirational and functional for artists and artisans to create. The Center is open to the public, inviting people to view and share in the experience of the process of creation, then have the option to purchase the goods directly from the galleries located in the “anchors”. This creates a more unified experience between the manufacturing of a product and the retail for both.

The Art and Innovation Center is a facility designed to bring together artistic individuals and create a large co-working community meant to stimulate creation. By bringing artists of different trades together and providing an environment for them that has the necessary materials, inspiration, and support, each member has the opportunity to grow in potential. Not only is this an environment in which to create, but it is also one to share creativity with the community by opening up about the design process with studios enclosed in glass, open galleries, spaces for hosting events and classes, and the opportunity to buy creations directly from the artists.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access