Posts tagged with "Malls":

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One Connecticut town swaps a derelict mall for a 14.4-acre, community-centered green space

Malls, those slumbering gray boxes marching across the American suburban landscape, are steadily going extinct. Back in 2014, the New Yorker published “Are Malls Over?” in which Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated, was quoted as saying, “Within 10 to 15 years, the typical U.S. mall, unless it is completely reinvented, will be a historical anachronism—a 60-year aberration that no longer meets the public’s needs, the retailers’ needs, or the community’s needs.” The article continues, “Caruso flashed grim photos of their facades. He lingered on a picture of a deserted food court; you could practically smell the stale grease. ‘Does this look like the future to you?’ he asked.”

Even just three years later, it is difficult to imagine the “traditional” mall having a place, even in the most quintessential American suburb, 10 years from now. But while clearly the malls of the 1970s through the ’90s are not the future, the great irony here is that Caruso specializes in developing malls—luxury outdoor malls, such as the Grove in Los Angeles and the Americana at Brand in Glendale, California. And indeed, just as quickly as those once-ubiquitous beige shopping centers are being torn down across the U.S., shinier, flashier moneymaking entities are popping up in their place. The Mall 2.0, it seems, is an artificial landscape sans Sbarro and JCPenny’s, with a plethora of vaguely European structures and simulated boutique experiences in their place. Already, it feels like it’s time to reflect on whether or not these new “shopping experiences” will fare any better than their forebears.

However, in Meriden, Connecticut, a town located halfway between New Haven and Hartford, city leaders took an alternate route: transforming a former mall into a resilient 14.4-acre park replete with pedestrian bridges, a 2,150-square-foot amphitheater, a remediated landscape with a flood-control pond, and even drivable turf to accommodate food trucks and farmers markets. More radically, there are future plans to reduce the downtown infrastructure: “The downtown will go back to two-way traffic, like it was in the ’50s,” said Vincent Della Rocca, project manager at La Rosa Construction, a local family-owned business that helped create Meriden Green.

The $14 million project was no simple feat, involving an extensive overhaul of a formerly blighted area that locals called “The Hub.” In the 1950s and ’60s, the city began developing the space to bolster economic development, and in 1971 the Meriden Mall was built on the site. In the process, the Harbor Brook—technically three different brooks—was obstructed by a maze of underground pipes. The mall closed and in 1992 and 1996 flooding caused by the blocked water streams caused $30 million in damages to the downtown area. The city took possession of the property in 2005, and it was deemed a brownfield site. A Hub Site Reuse Committee was formed and began making plans to transform the area, creating the Site Reuse Plan in 2007.

Years of approval processes and funding grants later, the City of Meriden’s design team, engineering firm Milone and MacBroom, and LaRosa Construction broke ground in November 2013. Due to it being a former brownfield site, there were many unforeseen obstacles, such as underground oil tanks that had to be removed. The brook was exposed and diverted, “the site was cleaned, foundations were crushed, and six inches of topsoil were placed,” explained Della Rocca; additional landscaping included adding drainage channels, pedestrian bridges, and concrete pathways.

Meriden Green opened in September 2016, with future plans to build a new train station and a mixed-use commercial and residential building nearby. It is a soothing green space that brings families and community events to mind. Hanover Pond and the brook that feeds into it offer charm and respite in addition to their crucial flood-control functions.

It’s an optimistic project and one that simply makes good sense—the idea that green spaces offer the type of future-proofing no amount of luxurious shopping can ensure. “Today, ladies and gentlemen, is more than just the opening of a park, it’s more than just a grand flood-control measure,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati said at the opening. “This is the start of a new downtown; this is the start of a new Meriden.” And, if others take note, the state of the new suburban mall, as well.

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Shanghai mall offers special refuge for husbands shopping with their wives

When wives or girlfriends utter the phrase "Let's go shopping!" on a Saturday afternoon, husbands and boyfriends may groan at the thought of the impending boredom, or find themselves suddenly paralyzed by the fear of hours on end in the women's section of local department stores. In an effort to create a more pleasant mall experience for both genders, the Vanke Mall in Shanghai recently opened a "Husband Nursery." The space (originally reported on by China Daily) is equipped with lounge chairs, a massage chair, a television, a fridge, magazines, and newspapers. Husbands and boyfriends can relax while their wives and girlfriends are cruising the shopping floors. When those ladies are all spent and ready to go, they'll know where to find their significant others. Located in Qibao, a smaller town in the Minhang District of Shanghai, Vanke Mall also offers a Tree House playground for kids.
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Renzo Piano aims to revitalize a suburban shopping mall in Northern California

  For the last several years, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) has been quietly working in the Northern California city of San Ramon on a scheme that aims to reinvent the suburban shopping mall as a new kind urban typology. The project, City Center Bishop Ranch, would create a new interpretation of the shopping mall in an affluent suburb located a 35-mile drive away from San Francisco by transforming it into a cultural and entertainment destination. The resulting 15-acre, 300,000-square foot shopping, dining, and entertainment district aims to become a new locus of intergenerational public interaction that, according to RPBW, is inherently missing from many suburban areas. The scheme attempts to subvert normative and typically linear New Urbanist-inspired main street revitalization approaches—streets that go “from nowhere to nowhere,” according to the project’s website—by creating a loop of porous commercial and social spaces on a large, planted site. RPBW argues that “main street” schemes typically push the functional aspects of commercial corridors like loading docks and parking structures away from storefront-activated street fronts, creating an impenetrable wall around these developments that stifles their integration into surrounding areas. RPBW’s response is a porous, pedestrianized mixed-use area with “no back doors” bounded by a porous perimeter that absorbs surrounding traffic, concealing automobiles into overhead parking garages. As such, renderings for the project depict a complex of three-story structures surrounded by leafy open space. The mall, carved into a cluster of buildings surrounding a central, open square, features glass-clad facades along ground floor areas, while second floor and third floor uses are wrapped in sheets of folded metal panels designed to deflect rays of the sun at specific angles. The project is currently under construction and to be completed in 2018. For more information on City Center Bishop Ranch, see the project website.
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Big changes coming to Westfield Promenade mall in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley

The Westfield Corporation has filed plans to demolish its 43-year old Promenade mall in the far-western San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, aiming to replace the aging complex with a $1.5-billion mixed-use development containing 1,400 residences. The project, with design by Westfield's in-house design and architecture as well as HKS, Johnson Fain, and Togawa Smith Martin Architects, is inspired by the Warner Center 2035 master plan for the surrounding area, which calls for converting the Warner Center purpose-built business district into a functionally-diverse urban neighborhood. Among other things, the plan calls for “a mix of uses that are within walking distance of one another so people can easily walk rather than drive.” The area’s plan, to be implemented in 2035, would also aim to create "complete streets" that “accommodate alternatives to the car, in particular, an internal circulator in the form of a modern streetcar and ‘small slow vehicle’ lanes for bicycles, Segway-like vehicles, electric bicycles, other small electric vehicles, and any other vehicle that does not move faster than a bicycle.” Plans for the Westfield site would incorporate these principles through the addition of new internal, pedestrianized streets that connect to major thoroughfares as well as the use of the site as for “open streets” events that are closed to automobile traffic. Westfield Corporation’s plan for the Promenade mall, sitting just across the street from the area’s namesake Warner Center towers, calls for the addition of 1,400 residential units, 150,000 square feet creative office, 470,000 square feet Class-A office space, and 244,000 square feet of commercial retail space. The project will also contain a 272-room hotel adjacent to the creative offices and a second, 300-room hotel that will be physically connected to the Class-A office component. The housing components of the project will be arranged in low-rise courtyard complexes while the office and hotel components will hug the western and southern edges of the site. Another central component of the project involves a so-called “Entertainment and Sports Center” that will accommodate flexible seating for up to 15,000 spectators. The sports center will aim to boost the community-minded aspects of the new complex, with also include a one-acre central park and upwards of five-acres of rooftop gardens and patio spaces. Construction on the complex is due to begin in 2020 or 2021 and will continue in phases until 2035.
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Artist to create first real-life “Vaporwave Mall” in Miami

The artist Aileen Quintana is creating an homage to internet cultural relics and the dying American mall in an installation for this year’s III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival in Miami. The “Vaporwave” genre has been called “the internet’s collective nostalgia”: a grouping of the various IRL ("in real life") ephemera that defined the activities supplanted digitally by the World Wide Web, like shopping, waiting in line, and listening to muzak in elevators. (Note: Vaporwave is very different from vaporware.) Art and music produced within the Vaporwave genre dabble in a mix of surrealism, kitsch, and nostalgia. Quintana’s “Vaporwave Mall” takes inspiration from the genre directly and will feature a bazaar of clichés from consumer-oriented, recreational capitalism to outfit a collection of fashion storefronts and art installations at the festival. Preliminary images of the installation show brightly-painted mannequins and the wire rack scaffolding used to display merchandise in mall outlets. The creativity festival, which Quintana cofounded in 2013, will take place in Miami's artsy Wynwood neighborhood between October 8th and October 10th, 2016 and will feature Quintana’s “mall” as a key installation. The artist told the Miami New Times this week, “Conceptually, it’s like couture club kids. I have the opportunity to associate the fashion component to the audio component and create this hybrid where the art is vivid and the creativity is more because it’s influenced by music.”
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Dystopia or dream? Dubai wants to build a domed “mall of the world” as Earth’s first climate-controlled city

Dubai's insatiable thirst for world firsts and records appears unquenched, as the city sets its eyes on yet another landmark title. Already home to the world's tallest building and with plans in the pipeline for the first fully rotational skyscraper, developer Dubai Holdings has unveiled plans for what would be the world's first climate-controlled city, something they call "The Mall of the World." https://youtu.be/p-lUp9sUFZw Although it may not be quite on the scale of Buckminster Fuller's plan to encapsulate Manhattan, Dubai is giving the late American architect a run for his money. The Mall of the World, if built, will be a staggering nine times larger than The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The 4.3-mile-long shopping mall would be encapsulated by a retractable dome that would be capable of offering an air-conditioned environment to the inhabitant shoppers who want to escape the city's searing desert heat. According to the developer, the space will be have almost 300 buildings with an annual capacity of up to 180 million visitors. By comparison, The Mall of America, built in 1992, offers a 5.4 million square feet of  floor space (plus an additional 2.5 million in a separate plaza). Due to be complete by 2020, Dubai Holding COO Morgan Parker has said that the dome "will be critical to the Emirate's economic growth."  Already more than 100 engineers and architects are working on plans that will see the area occupy around 48 million square feet of space when complete. Also included in the scheme will be a vast network of 33 roads as well as walkways, cycle paths, bus routes, and Venetian-style waterways. Aside from copious amounts of shops and restaurants, the dome will also offer:
  • The largest indoor family theme park in the world
  • Wellness district catering to medical tourists in a 3-million-square-foot area
  • Cultural district comprising theatres built around New York’s Broadway, The Celebration Walk, similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona and shopping streets based on London’s Oxford Street
  • Dubai’s largest celebration centre accommodating 15,000 revellers
Naturally, the project has its vehement critics, with some labelling the project as a "dystopia waiting to happen." Only time will tell if Dubai's dome is doomed.
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Right on trend, the oldest mall in America is reborn as micro-apartments

Search Twitter for #mallmonday and see a hilariously bleak photo series that profiles different malls, some dead, some impossibly sad, each week. Why are these depressing spaces so popular with architects? By giving new life to these huge, redundant spaces, architects tap into ruinophilia to feed a culturally ingrained desire for dramatic transformation and also temper the excesses of capitalism, maybe. In the Texas capital, Austin Community College annexed semi-vacant Highland Mall for a new campus, while NBBJ is reviving a dead mall in downtown Columbus. In Providence, Rhode Island, Northeast Collaborative Architects (NCA) handily combined dead mall revivification with micro-apartments, for an timely transformation of downtown's Arcade Providence, the oldest shopping mall in the United States. The 1828 Greek Revival–style mall was closed for the last three years. Designed by Russell Warren and James Bucklin, the three-story mall was America's first enclosed shopping arcade. In a $7 million renovation, Providence-based NCA turned the mall, a National Historic Landmark, into a mixed-use development with 17 retail stores on the ground floor and 48 micro-apartments on top. Apartments open out onto a shared walkway, an arrangement that would be penitentiary-chic if not for a skylit atrium. Unlike micro-apartments in New York, where market-rate rents at Carmel Place range from $2,540 to $2,910 per month, rents at Arcade Providence begin at $550 per month for a 225 to 450 square-foot one-bedroom, My Modern Met reports. (Two- and three-bedroom units are also available.) Those units come with a full bathroom, kitchenette, and a built-in bed with storage. Tenants have access to shared laundry, TV room, and game room, as well as bike storage, and parking. Right now, the only catch for prospective tenants is the 4,000 person waiting list.
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ODA brings mallcore to Brooklyn with this stacked mixed-use development

Master box-stacking architecture firm ODA has unveiled its latest addition to the Brooklyn cityscape: an eight story, mixed-used development at 71 White Street in East Williamsburg. The approximately 80,700-square-foot hotel, retail, and semi-public space will rise from the skeleton of an existing one-story, graffiti-adorned 1930s warehouse. Calling 71 White Street a mall would undermine the grittiness it strives so hard to project. Yet, its circulation pattern and its relationship to the street speaks for itself. The complex's stacked and rotated layers recede from, yet tower over, the existing low-slung street wall to create a series of insular private and public spaces. The main entrance, on the corner of McKibben and White streets, is set deep into the lot, drawing visitors though indoor and outdoor corridors to access food, drink, and entertainment. The first two floors are programmed for restaurant and retail space. Ground-floor windows would punctuate the now window-deficient facade, and create visual interest on the street. The top five floors are given over to a 112 room hotel. That hotel will provide de facto amenities: gym, rooftop bar, and pool. In addition, renderings depict multiple, expansive shared terraces that afford views of Manhattan. For those interested in people-watching, the third floor will be an open-air public promenade. To access the third floor space from the main entrance, a set of stairs slopes gently upward and diverges, giving access to the east and west ends of the structure. The circulation pattern will accommodate a range of uses: on the west end, an amphitheater slopes down to the ground floor, while the east end appears to be reserved for more quiet activities, like eating at picnic tables.
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Plans unveiled for a sprawling mall of pebbles in the suburbs of Dubai

LuLu Group International has commissioned Design International and Eng. Adnan Saffarini to design its new flagship shopping center: Avenues Mall, Silicon Oasis in Dubai. And while it might not boast the heights we're used to seeing in the towering city, it is certainly sprawling at 1,779 acres. Avenues Mall, Silicon Oasis is the front door of the so-called Dubai Silicon Oasis development covering some 1,779 acres. To wrap your head around that number, that's 2.7 square miles or 1,306 football fields. The vicinity will be home to over 700 high tech companies, hotels, business parks, and large residential communities, located right off Emirates Road and Al Ain Road in a rapidly developing area on Dubai's periphery. Architect for Design International, Davide Padoa, said in a press release, "All of the parties involved in this project share the same values: the development of the community, as well as the desire to be at the forefront of style, technology and sustainable innovation, which is what Dubai Silicon Oasis stands out for." The mall uses pebble-like forms that, when viewed from a distance, appear to be wrapped in white wrapping paper. Of course, this is only an illusion—white tiles comprise the facade system that's supposedly inspired by "ancient Arabian movements across the desert." Design Internationals said it aimed to create "an oasis of calm and tranquility in the otherwise hectic pace of modern suburban Dubai." As for the interior, five plazas will reflect the five elements of an oasis: The Cave, The Canyon, The Forest, The Lagoon, and The Mirage. Also inside will be entertainment, urban fashion, luxury, kids, sports and leisure zones along with a cinema, 45 restaurants, and a flagship LuLu Hypermarket and LuLu Department Store. To accomodate the arrival of the expected number of visitors by car, there will also be a two level 3,600 capacity car park.
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Unveiled> Columbus, Ohio redevelops site of dead downtown mall

The future came into focus last week for the site of a defunct mall in downtown Columbus, Ohio. By the time City Center mall closed in 2009, only its parking structure remained a popular destination. Columbus Downtown Development Corporation replaced the dead mall with Columbus Commons, a nine-acre park slated for mixed-use development over the coming years. Renderings from NBBJ, published March 25 in Columbus Underground, show the latest phase of that project: a modern, 17-story mixed-use tower that developers The Daimler Group and Kaufman Development are calling Two25 Commons. Another NBBJ tower dubbed 250 High is already under construction on the south end of the Commons site, set to rise 12 stories. The new building will have 20,000 square feet of ground floor retail, 125,000 square feet of office space across five floors, and 11 stories containing 170 apartment and condo units. It will have underground parking and a connection to the existing parking structure via a new pedestrian bridge over Rich Street.
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This mall looks like it should be built in Dubai, but it’s actually planned in Miami as the nation’s largest

The slew of stories on the death of the American shopping mall has not deterred one real estate company from submitting plans to build the largest shopping and entertainment center in the country. The Miami Herald reported that the ambitious plan comes from the Triple 5 Group, a company that knows a thing or two about big malls—it owns and runs the Mall of America in Minnesota. Apparently not satisfied with letting that mall remain the nation's largest, the developer has unveiled designs for something even larger in Miami-Dade County. If you ignore the mall's very 1950s, Americana-sounding name, "American Dream Miami," it looks like something you might find in Dubai or a Chinese city, but, no, the 200-acre complex is planned for the good ol' U.S. of A. So, what does the American Dream include? Well, restaurants and shops, and hotels and condominiums, and mini golf, and a theme park, and a skating rink, and a Legoland, a Ferris wheel, and indoor gardens, and—get ready for these two—a sea-lion show and a "submarine lake." Oh, and in a very Dubai-move, it also has a 12-story indoor ski slope. Sorry, one more thing—there is also some sort of telescope situation poking out of what appears to be the "ski dome." For the American Dream to become a reality, the developer first needs a change in zoning to move things along. From there, things get a little tricky. Triple 5 could acquire most of its required land from a private company, but 80 acres of the site is owned by the state. And, as the Herald pointed out, the Miami-Dade school system has a lease on a big chunk of that acreage. Apparently, Triple 5 would give the school system $7 million to waive its lease and another $11 million to the state for the rest of the land. Triple 5 could also be asked to fund mass transit improvements in the area. The plan will reportedly be considered by county commissioners and the school board later this month.
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Watch Renzo Piano talk about reinventing the shopping mall in a San Francisco suburb

Last summer, AN reported on Renzo Piano's City Center at Bishop Ranch, the architect's re-invention of the typical shopping center, mixing walkability, culture (including an integrated performance stage), community (including a public "piazza" space") and commerce. In a new short film about the project, Piano spoke about keeping people outside, creating open and transparent storefronts, making a building that will "practically fly above the ground." https://vimeo.com/110900031 The project, located in San Ramon, a remote eastern suburb of San Francisco, centers around the plaza, which is surrounded by six raised glass pavilions. Piano explained how he is creating a suburban building that is nonetheless unpredictable, natural and "very California." "After a while you hear a little bell ringing," explained Piano, of his design process epiphany. "This is not a shopping mall. It's something else."