Friday, September 22, 2006
Fiberglass Fabric Roofs - Bullock's San Jose and San Mateo
Nothing is more unusual than seeing a tent as a roof for a department store. Bullock's did just that. First, for their store at San Jose's Oakridge Mall. The single-level store was flooded with natural light using uber-cool space-age technology. Of course, the unusualness was a draw; everyone wanted to see inside. Later, Bullock's expanded the idea and built an even larger Fiberglass fabric roof on its new San Mateo store. Unlike the Oakridge store, the San Mateo store had freeway visibility. Thousands of commuters passed the "circus-tent" everyday. Regrettably, freeway access to San Mateo Fashion Island mall was terrible. Many of the commuters who wanted to stop and see inside just could not get there.
One significant downfall of a Fiberglass fabric roof was the heating and cooling. Cold temperatures soaked right through the tent and made the store unbearably cold. During summer, the opposite occurred. Hot stores were just uncomfortable.
The first picture is an ad in a Progressive Architecture magazine from 1981. It expounded the virtues of Fiberglass fabric roofs. The ad goes on to mention Bullock's was planning an even larger store using the concept. That, of course, we know is the San Mateo store. The second picture if an aerial view of the Bullock’s in San Mateo. If at anytime you passed this area off the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, you will certainly remember it.
Regrettably, neither of these architectural landmarks survived. Both stores met their fate with the wrecking ball.