JULIA DROOFF

DIGITAL ART AND MEDIA STUDIES DUAL THESIS

REIMAGINING ABANDONED COMMUNITY SPACE
IN A POST-PANDEMIC ENVIRONMENT


4 DECEMBER 2020


Artist Statement:

Julia is a Media Studies and Digital Art major at Scripps College. She grew up in Annapolis, MD and began buildings things out of recycled materials at a young age. Inspired by her artist grandmother and construction worker father, she dedicated her undergraduate practice to studying landscapes and the structures that inhabit them. She plans on pursuing a graduate degree in architecture after she graduates in the Spring.

Three years ago, I was walking from my internship at a manufacturing company in Landover, Maryland to a nearby shopping center when I came across a large piece of land surrounded by a chain link fence. When I peered in I only saw piles of dirt, dust, and concrete in what looked like an abandoned construction site. Two years later, when the pandemic hit, I was forced to move from California back to Maryland. During that time, I took interest in the growing number of abandoned spaces around me as malls and retail centers were forced to close. What once were lively community spaces for people to shop and socialize, were now boarded up windows and locked doors. My fascination with these empty spaces led me to revisit the abandoned Landover property and learn about its former role as the Landover Mall. I started to imagine how this space could be reclaimed by the community to function as a social space in a post-pandemic environment.

The three dimensional model I have developed using community feedback is meant to serve as a visual representation of a new Landover Community Marketplace. By following new pandemic-friendly design standards released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA), I was able to model safe recreation and social spaces. My application of real eco-friendly design techniques, while removing the model from its surrounding context, make it an aspirational utopia for community members to reference during post-pandemic revitalization. My hope is that this project shows how imaginative visual representation, in the form of three dimensional modeling, can inspire community-focused design during the pandemic era.  


Landover Mall Demolition Site:


Courtesy of Google Earth.


History of the Site:

The Landover Mall was a large shopping mall located in Landover, Maryland, directly across from FedexField off of Maryland highway 202 and interstates 95 and 495. The mall was built by Sonny Abramson and Ted Lerner of Lerner Enterprises, and opened in 1972. Like its neighbor, Capital Plaza Mall, it served as a Baltimore Washington Beltway attraction from 1972 to 1989. The mall featured many large anchor stores and smaller tenants; however, upon the decline and closing of its major anchor stores as well as a fatal shooting, the mall entered a state of decline in 1994. Finally, in 2002, the mall was closed and ultimately demolished. Passing between the hands of developers and even the FBI from 2014 until present day, the 22 acre site remains unused. Currently, the area consists of industrial sites and Fedex field, home of the Washington Redskins. New communities have popped up along the Landover and Largo metro stops as an increasing number of D.C. residents move out to the suburbs. The community rose in status recently with the introduction of the Largo Towne Center and the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.