Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Daily Mall Reader: Shopping Mall History

A daily dose of mall-related reading...

The Terrazzo Jungle
Fifty years ago, the mall was born. America would never be the same

The New Yorker - March 15, 2004

(Excerpt) ...But Gruen’s most famous creation was his next project, in the town of Edina, just outside Minneapolis. He began work on it almost exactly fifty years ago. It was called Southdale. It cost twenty million dollars, and had seventy-two stores and two anchor department-store tenants, Donaldson’s and Dayton’s. Until then, most shopping centers had been what architects like to call “extroverted,” meaning that store windows and entrances faced both the parking area and the interior pedestrian walkways. Southdale was introverted: the exterior walls were blank, and all the activity was focussed on the inside.

Suburban shopping centers had always been in the open, with stores connected by outdoor passageways. Gruen had the idea of putting the whole complex under one roof, with air-conditioning for the summer and heat for the winter. Almost every other major shopping center had been built on a single level, which made for punishingly long walks. Gruen put stores on two levels, connected by escalators and fed by two-tiered parking. In the middle he put a kind of town square, a “garden court” under a skylight, with a fishpond, enormous sculpted trees, a twenty-one-foot cage filled with bright-colored birds, balconies with hanging plants, and a café.

Read the full article here.


Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Wow, that was a fantastic article. Now I know why things are they way they are in a Taubman mall.

Wed Dec 06, 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I agree. Great read!! I plan to re-read it again later tonight in fact. I learned a lot from it too!

Wed Dec 06, 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

I don't necessarily agree with all of Taubman's points (for example, I wouldn't mind smelling food while trying on clothes), but it was definitely interesting to read how much planning goes into the design of such malls.

Wed Dec 06, 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

You know, they tried the smell-o-advertising in San Francisco this week. Bus stops smelled like fresh-baked cookies (as opposed to fresh-leaked urine). It was to entice you to buy milk. It lasted barely 24 hours before they removed it.

Thu Dec 07, 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading Progressive Architecture from the late 60's. There's not much about malls, but tons on Schools, Retirement homes, hospitals, and monolithic skyscrapers. There was a religious ferver that urban renewal and exellence in building design would save the inner city, which by that time was well on a path to collapse. The biggest thing was the "beauty of raw concrete". What they missed, and what Greun grasped, was the importance of subtle detail and the unimportance of grand concepts in urban living.

I remeber an intersting Sci fi novel about life in a futuristic shopping mall - Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven. A must read for the mall and space alien crossove fan.

Thu Dec 07, 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is indeed very interesting. Malls remind me of childhood and teen years. I still frequent anchor stores, but avoid the interior of the mall. Its really sad that Gruen "created a monster" and it ended up in his own backyard.

Thu Dec 14, 01:15:00 AM  

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