Bad Habits Persist in Designs for Future Malls

A competition to design the shopping mall of the future produces some surprisingly non-futuristic results, according to juror and commentator Allison Arieff.

"Ah, if only the designers and developers of shopping malls paid as much attention to the foot traffic outside the mall as they do to the orchestrated promenade within it."

"At the 2009 International Council on Shopping Centers convention held in Las Vegas last month, pedestrian-oriented development was not top of mind (though in a 3.2 million-square-foot convention center, walking was a defining part of the experience). Despite a nearly 50 percent drop in attendance from prior years, most talk at ICSC was of how business as usual could resume once 'things came back.'"

"I was brought to ICSC as a juror for the organization's inaugural Future Image Architecture Competition, which asked entrants to imagine the shopping mall of the future. My expectations for the entries were high - and probably too preconceived. This seems like a watershed moment for malls, much as it does for housing. Surely, I thought, the entries will reflect the extent to which business as usual - i.e., massive anchor retail tenants surrounded by thousands (even millions) of square feet of specialized yet mass retail, in settings only accessible by car - cannot possibly continue. Having just witnessed the Sony-backed Metreon mall in San Francisco shift from its failed existence as a "state of the art technology and entertainment marketplace" to a modest farmer's market, I'd seen the writing on the wall. Hadn't the shopping center folks?"

"Some have, but surprisingly, many haven't."

Full Story: Rethinking the Mall

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