Urban Supermarkets, Suburban Designs

Supermarkets are moving back to urban areas like Philadelphia. But their big box designs are decidedly un-urban, according to architecture critic Inga Saffron, who calls for more relevant urban designs.
October 1, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"After a long absence, the neighborhood supermarket is making a comeback in urban places like Philadelphia. Only the new arrivals don't look anything like the friendly local grocers we once knew. In quick succession, a gang of boxy, suburban-scaled cornucopias has moved into the thick of Philly's rowhouse neighborhoods. They've laid claim to whole blocks at 56th and Market, 52d and Parkside, Columbus Boulevard in Pennsport. And more are coming.

You might assume that the more stores that sell fresh food, the better - especially given that Philadelphians struggle with their collective weight, at least according to certain out-of-town list-makers.

The problem is that these new supermarkets tend toward obesity themselves. It's hard to overlook all that bulk when the chains dock their flagship boxes in a marina's worth of parking. And once you breach the store's solid walls, you could as easily be in Fairbanks as Fairmount."

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Published on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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