The Fall of Malltopia

Mark Dery looks back at the birth and death of the mall, from Victor Gruen to the present collapse, then beyond to proposals for reusing and revitalizing mall spaces.

Dery writes, "Brimming with evangelical zeal, New Urbanists are exhorting communities with dead malls to reverse the historical logic of Gruenization, turning malls inside-out so storefronts face the wider world and transforming them into mixed-use agglomerations of residences and retail; repurposing parking lots into civic plazas; infilling the dead zones that surround most malls with transit-accessible neighborhoods checkerboarded with public spaces (a rare commodity in sprawl developments),and weaving the streets of said neighborhoods into those of the surrounding suburbs."

Dery goes on to look at the more fantastical ideas of the finalists in the 2003 Dead Malls competition sponsored by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.

Full Story: Dawn of the Dead Mall



Creating social spaces and events in existing malls

People can begin to work to improve the existing malls in their communities. Talk to the mall managers about creating mini-plazas in the malls, social spaces separate from the food courts where all people really do is eat their fast food meal in isolation from the rest of the shoppers around them. Ask them to host events that give people the opportunity to interact, moreso than events such as taking pics with Santa.

The management of a mall in this region removed all of their benches because kids were jumping off them etc. A relative of mine wrote and complained about this, as he is a senior who needs to sit once in a while when he is shopping. Hopefully, they'll put them back.

Small improvements can make a difference.

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