Still-unsurpassed box store architecture: SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

I first saw these amazing buildings, almost all of which have now either had their facades removed or have actually been demolished, in the November 2007 issue of Wallpaper. The BEST Products Company of Richmond, Virginia commissioned architect James Wines’ SITE (Sculpture In The Environment) to build nine commercial buildings for them in the 1970s and early 80s. BEST was founded and owned by the Lewises, a Virginia family interested in art and design. BEST stores were famous for their willingness to trade store merchandise for art and as a result the company, as well as the Lewises, gathered a significant collection of 20th century pieces. Much of the Lewis Collection can be seen at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (See Wikipedia for a more detailed story.) Apparently more photographs of the building above have appeared in books on 20th century architecture than any other modern structure. Some interesting videos about the Best buildings are here. And Part 2 of this blog post is here.

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

Best Products Company building by architect James Wines of SITE

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6 Responses to “Still-unsurpassed box store architecture: SITE”

  1. Theresa Slaughter Says:

    I remember the pictures above of the BEST store that had the opening on the corner and closed completely at the corner here in Sacramento, California. Now it is a Best Buy, and they got rid of the bottom structure (how sad) that closed off the front part of the corner. Magnificent peice of work in its time! =)

  2. Darrell B. Says:

    I remember a design for Best – I don’t know if it was ever built – that gave the illusion that the parking lot, stripes and all, was draped over the building. I would have loved to have seen more of these. I did live in Sacramento during the time Best was there and enjoyed visiting the building – pity the moving wall is gone now.

  3. Linda V Says:

    I remember the Best Products store in Bethesda, MD, and it had an Indian crouching on the top, looking over towards the highway (Rt. 270 now but back then it was 70S). Guess that’s not politically correct these days, but it was a very cool building.

  4. James Wines Architect « Creative Arts FLA Weblog Says:

    [...] 20, 2010 by dee1962 Leave a Comment I finally found some decent images and blog site of one of my favourite architects – James Wines – Why cant we have supermarkets like [...]

  5. Best- James Wines – S.I.T.E. | Diner Hunter Says:

    [...] these buildings while looking through books at the school library today. Definitely worth a look. http://blog.ounodesign.com/2009/03/15/still-unsurpassed-box-store-architecture-site/ This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← New Silver Diner- [...]

  6. Spike D Punch Says:

    I used to shop in the Arden Road BEST in Sacramento, with the ragged corner that rolled away to reveal the front doors. Other than the corner, it was just a box with stuff inside. It would have been more fun to push a big button and have the corner slide away to let each customer in. Having to sprint in and out to avoid getting squashed by the building would have added some excitement to shopping.

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