As post offices across the country become increasingly redundant, many are shutting their doors. But some 1,000 of these facilities were designed and constructed as part of the New Deal and are listed on the national register of historic places, so it is such a pity to see them abandoned. Luckily, New York School of Interior Design MFA graduate Erika Reuter has sketched out a wonderful solution. Instead of neglecting these beautiful buildings, what if they could be transformed into hypermarkets where locals could go to purchase food?
Speaking in an interview with NYSID, Reuter said that repurposing the post offices could serve a variety of functions. Firstly, the historic character of the buildings would be preserved, and their original function as a focal point of any given community could be revived. Conceived in the spirit of a European market that is easily accessible and reached on foot, the enclosed markets would also help to promote a healthier urban lifestyle.
Completely modular and adaptable to post offices of varying sizes, Reuter’s design references the original function of these structures in a couple of interesting ways. First, the ceilings would be covered in a compressed cardboard material similar to the boxes used by the post office, carts could nestle into the pickup counter, and a faded “Marche” (the name of Reuter’s project) logo above this space would mimic the rubber stamps used in postal transactions.
Reuter’s design also includes an actual house within the hypermarket. This is evocative of stores like IKEA that use innovative displays to show off their products. However, the mini house would also function as a place to stock inventory. Post offices have nostalgic value for many people. Reuter’s design not only allows the buildings to survive, but could also rehabilitate town centers across the country.