The Birth And Death Of An Idea: The Enclosed Shopping Mall
There is a tendency in America to "wax nostalgic for the traditional downtown," but traffic and single-use zoning have long since precluded the creation of vibrant mixed-use urban centers. Fifty years ago, Victor Gruen designed a "fully enclosed, introverted, multitiered, double-anchor-tenant shopping complex with a garden court under a skylight" as a response to the chaos of American suburbia. Malls teach us, he once said, that its the merchants who will save our urban civilization. Planning isnt a dirty word to them; good planning means good business. Gruen thought of the mall as "the centerpiece of a carefully planned new downtown." But then the economics of land development changed the picture.
Thanks to Zvi Leve