Compo Shopping Center: Behind The Reveal

Rick Hoag has always liked the “quirky, ’50s-’60s feel” of Compo Shopping Center.

So when his Frederick William Hoag Architects firm got the chance to redesign the façade of one of Westport’s first strip malls, he was eager to help.

The west (CVS, Planet Pizza) side was built in 1957. The east (Gold’s, Little Kitchen) portion followed shortly after.

Compo Shopping Center’s west (top) and east sides, before renovation.

It’s really, really long. It’s home to a diverse array of different-sized tenants. And regulatory challenges constricted the type of changes Hoag could do.

But he’s nothing if not resourceful.

“The existing architecture exudes a playful mid-century vibe with sweeping fascias and inclined façades, retro forms, and language to be celebrated within a contemporary architectural skin,” he says.

“The existing sloped cornice seems to put the whole building façade in motion, emulating the automobiles traveling the Post Road.”

That reminded him of “Norman Rockwell-like images of happy American families shopping. before whisking off in their Chris-Craft on Long Island Sound.”

Mid-20th century Chris-Craft.

That classic speedboat concept inspired his design.

The new west side …

By applying finishes as a rain screen, he and his firm maintained the existing weather tightness of the building.

… and the east.

LED lights are a 21st-century thing. But Hoag designed them in a way that, he says, embraces both the spirit of the retro façade, and the feel of today.

The result — with help from Bill Achilles, earlier in the process — is emerging now. A.V. Tuchy — the Norwalk builders doing the renovation — should be finished in March.

Then, the scaffolds will come down. The “new” Compo Shopping Center will sparkle by day, and shine by night.

Dusk view.

That may attract more shoppers and restaurant-goers than ever.

Drive safely!

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12 responses to “Compo Shopping Center: Behind The Reveal

  1. Adrian J Little

    The building may have had a make over but the abysmal entrance and egress is the same along with the inability of too many shoppers not to park properly.
    Put as much lipstick on the pig as you like…

  2. The part of this posting that caught my attention was the work was being done by A.V. Tuchy. They built Westport Lanes in 1958. They are fantastic builders!

  3. I miss Record & Tape.

  4. Good post guys!

  5. Perhaps a bit of architectural overthinking (“whisking off in their Chris-Craft”), but I’m sure it will be an improvement to the facade, if not to the terrifying traffic flow.

  6. Janine Scotti

    I have spoken to their office and I am expecting major improvements to the dumpster and the garbage in the parking lot and the overall mess in the back of these buildings. This was not promised, but I you are trying to dress up the front I would think you would repair the back! These tenants pay a lot but are not supported properly by this landlord with the infrastructure needed in the back. And they should not be charged more, just do your share landowner.

  7. Driving by Compo Shopping Center for the last 30+ years and noting all the changes to older Westport commercial properties and facades over that time, the facade renovations at Compo do not arise to the same level elsewhere, ie 180 PRE, Sconset Square, Trader Joe. Fresh Market, Free People, Westport Hardware (there are many others). I have used both Hoag and Achilles many times on my commercial projects and with the right direction and budget and they have preformed wonderfully, examples 100 PRE, Paper Source, 1300 PRE, Kohler/Bird/Surface/Lars Bolander, 1480 PRE, Hopefully, with this minor and in my words “uninteresting” facelift, the Owners get the occupancy and rents that they are looking for.

  8. Jan Degenshein

    definitely an improvement. The property owner, building management, the architect, and the general contractor should all be commended.

  9. Stephanie Bass

    Sounds lovely.

    Who is in charge of fixing wonky, cracked, front parking lot and is it part of the new look?

    Recovering from a broken leg. Thrilled that i am passed wheelchair, walker and cane but fearful of another fall

  10. Looks like a nice update to one of the busiest shopping centers in town. BTW, it breaks my heart to see those poor sycamore trees out front with the pavement nearly right up to their trunks. Tha’s a plan for failure. Those were donated in a special ceremony back in the day that was covered in the press. If you’re going to have street trees, don’t be chowder-headed cavemen. Do it the right way. Or don’t do it at all.

  11. It looks like a completely reasonable update, but it sure would be nice to have a better entrance. Maybe it is an inherent problem with the depth of the front lot (and the traffic light that applies to both Compo SC and Trader Joe’s), but there has to be a better way – whether that is up to the developer or the Town to figure out, I’m not saying.

  12. I would have much preferred them leveling that whole strip mall….it is an eye soar of architectural design. This is lipstick on a pig.